Yoko Ono is primarily known in the Czech Republic as the widow of the legendary John Lennon, but that image may finally fade thanks to an exhibition currently on show at Prague's Kampa Museum called Women's Room.
The Japanese-born Yoko Ono has been active in the arts since her early twenties but arrived in the Czech capital only last week to present her work, which mainly features photographs, short films, and music. Most of the exhibits on show are more recent works made in the late nineties. But visitors can also view a collection of 1960's art, which even includes footage of her famous 1964 "Cut Piece" performance in Japan, where Yoko Ono invited the audience to cut off pieces of her clothing in the name of world peace. In the Blue Room, the seventy-year old avant-garde icon has written little messages on the walls and introduces us to the three most important men in her life - her late husband, her father, and her son - in the Vertical Memory installation. But, as the name suggests, the exhibition mainly focuses on women. At its opening, Yoko Ono explained why she chose to name it Women's Room:
Yoko Ono, photo: CTK
"It's a word game in a way. You know, women's room, the bathroom - men's room, women's room. But it's also to do with what women are going through and I think that in the history of the human race, there was a big suppression of women power. Over five million women intellectuals and doctors were killed as being witches and their religion was mainly based on male priests and that's when women lost power. It's a pity for all of us, the human race, to not have the women power with us. So I just want to show what women are going through. But I've also set up a Wish Tree where we can wish for a better society and change what's going on."
Yes, besides being an artist, Yoko Ono has also been a strong advocate for world peace. Coincidentally, Women's Room opened in Prague on Human Rights Day, just a few metres away from the city's famous Lennon Wall, which came to being after John Lennon's death in 1980. Graffiti, poems, and messages for world peace surround a portrait of the Beatles legend on a wall that the communists attempted to clean in the late eighties. They failed and the wall has now become a symbol for peace, love, friendship, and Czech freedom. Yoko Ono was visiting the Czech Republic for the first time and to her it represents:
"...a country which kept its country beautifully by wisdom."