Watch Five Essential Yoko Ono Clips

By ajcolores

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Watch Five Essential Yoko Ono Clips

With Found Footage, we dig through the depths of archival video online. From live clips to interviews and music videos, we uncover the best visual documents floating around the web.

Today, we've collected five essential Yoko Ono clips, on the occasion of this week's release of the avant-garde icon's new collaborative album with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, YOKOKIMTHURSTON, as well as last week's awarding of the LennonOno Grant for Peace to Pussy Riot, Rachel Corrie, Christopher Hitchens, and John Perkins.

Ono, now 79 years old, is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has encompassed music from noise rock to new wave, as well as experimental short films, performance art, conceptual writing and more. (Yes, she was also married to-- and an artistic collaborator with-- John Lennon.) The following clips look at her vast output since the 1960s. 

Also recommended is Yoko Ono's Twitter account-- a work of performance art in itself.

1. "Cut Piece", live at Carnegie Hall, 1965. In the 60s and 70s, Ono was entrenched in Downtown New York's avant-garde art scene, participating in George Maciunas' boundary-breaking Fluxus movement. Along with experimental films like "Fly" and "Film No. 4 (Bottoms)", Ono produced conceptual art, like her heuristic instruction book "Grapefruit", and performance art, like "Cut Piece", in which members of the audience use a pair of scissors to cut pieces of Ono's clothing off of her body.

2. Bed Peace film, 1969. In 1969, Ono and Lennon staged two "bed-ins" to promote world peace, in which they stayed in bed for week-long stretches in Montreal and Amsterdam. This film, directed by John and Yoko, documents the Montreal event. Attempting to spread peace by any means necessary--  gimmick included-- Ono and Lennon gave interviews with journalists, peace activists, religious leaders, and the likes of Timothy Leary, Jonas Mekas, and Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers. Bed Peace also features "Give Peace a Chance", "Instant Karma", "Because", and Ono's "Remember Love" and "Who Has Seen the Wind". In a statement last year, Ono said, "There are things that we said then in the film, which may give some encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today." 

3. "Midsummer New York", on "The Mike Douglas Show", 1972. In February 1972, Ono and Lennon co-hosted the talk show "The Mike Douglas Show" for five nights straight, performing and being interviewed. Guests included Chuck Berry, George Carlin, Ralph Nader, and others. Here they are performing "Midsummer New York", the opening track from Ono's album Fly, released in 1971, and produced by herself and Lennon. They're backed by the band Elephant's Memory. These fairly conventional rock musicians (Lennon included) offer a good foil for Ono, highlighting her avant-garde leanings as she guides her voice through explorative noise-tinged territory .

4. "Walking on Thin Ice" live, June 1986. Ono performs her 1981 new wave track "Walking on Thin Ice" during the Conspiracy of Hope Amnesty International benefit at New Jersey's Giants Stadium. (The event was televised on MTV and featured Fela Kuti, U2, Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, the Police, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, and tons more.) There is something incredible (and also a bit comical) about seeing Ono's virtuosic vocal weirdness performed on a stadium stage (be sure to catch the 3:30 mark). The song was originally recorded December 8, 1980, the day Lennon was murdered. He apparently had a copy of the final mix in his hands when he was shot.

5. "Mulberry", live with Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, 2009. Ono wrote "Mulberry" about living in Japan during World War II, when her family was starving and she picked mulberries to feed herself and her younger siblings. Though the song had been around in various forms since 1969, Ono had only performed the song live twice-- once with John Lennon, and once with their son, Sean-- before she performed the dissonant, oscillating piece with Moore. Here, in October 2010, she performs the piece with Moore and Kim Gordon, introducing the two as "my good friends, and I am very proud of them for being great, great avant-garde rockers."

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