When Performance is a Mirror


 

Dear Yoko,

Mothers don’t always ask to be Mothers and dogs scratch any old door to escape dogcatchers or their idea of dogcatchers—but here we are now; we’ve found ourselves Here.

My mother has died and I need a new one.

Yrs truly.

P.S. At the age of 18, before I knew you, before I knew the war, before I knew knew knew, I saw your Cut Piece.

You were in London, sitting on a stage. There was a queue outside the door, all the way down the street, all the famous people brought their own shears in order to snip snip your clothes away, to take your dress home as a souvenir, to remember you by. The flashing lights went off pow pow pow like lightening, like strokes from a belt, contracting and dilating pupils with a fleeting and unconscious violence as the line passed quickly, the fever of possession grew, and all the pretty people with their perfect shears, ravenous, they snip snip snipped you all away.

This 18-year-old girl threw up in the alley behind the Tate Museum.

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One Response to When Performance is a Mirror

  1. carolinepicard says:

    I was thinking about this piece today–it’s a story I wrote a while ago and, oddly enough, was inspired because of a longer piece of creative writing I’d been working on about Joseph Beuys. Yoko Ono became an intuitive parallel for me, a female pillar complement who, like Beuys, survived the war. He is the Westerner and faced a particular aspect of post-war trauma as a German. Ono faced an entirely different post-war trauma as a young woman in Japan. Both went on to participate directly in the culture of contemporary art and Ono’s “Cut Piece” in particular stays with me as something to chew on. I find it beautiful and terrible all at once, because there will always be a desire to cut and in cutting one fulfills the parameters of the performance. As an artist/writer looking for cultural predecessors, her legacy also seems particularly interesting. Beuys also seemed so invested in ideas about teaching, while being at odds with organized institutions–there is an interesting tension there.

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