The extracts of Pamplemousse from Japanese-born, American Citizen Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit are challenging pieces of art. The French term Pamplemousse is an adopted word from the Dutch language which refers to the Tamil word bambolmas. A citrus fruit that has striking resemblance to that of a grapefruit, it is an allegory for the title of Ono’s 1964 piece.
Many of Ono’s works were associated with George Maciunas’ group Fluxus. A society composed of dada-inspired avant-garde artists; it was developed in the early 1960s. John Cage has been credited as one of Ono’s most important influences on her performance art. It was her connection with Ichiyanagi Toshi, a student of Cage’s exceptional lessons of experimental composition that would introduce Ono to the art forms of Cage and his protégés.
Ono’s poetry in Pamplemousse is considered to be instructions to the reader. They obviously cannot be taken literally but instead compel the reader to use their imagination to complete the commands given. Her technique crafts an original kind of imagery that triggers the mind to think in a new way. Ono’s guidelines are more complex than just telling the reader to, for example, run around in a circle. She uses active verbs to force the reader consider something unexpected. These unexpected images aren’t characterised by ornamental or lyrical language; they are solid, frank and simple.
Some aspects of Pamplemousse evoke your thoughts in a direction that you would not normally take when given the chance to read an abstract piece of literature. Ono’s Smell Piece I & II are perfect examples of this. Ono asks the reader to “Send the smell of the moon” (1953 autumn) or “Send a smell to the room.” (1962 winter) These two instructions are clearly impossible things to do, however it arouses a notion that maybe one day we will be able to send a smell to the moon. Others can act as a vessel of inspiration to view the world around you and to explore the world around you in a different light. Asking someone to “Draw a map to get lost” (1964 spring) sparks a contradiction in that maps are used to find yourself; short of taking a wrong turn and deviating from your map, one cannot get lost; although that may be what Ono is asking you to do. And other sections of the literature really makes you question Ono’s sanity; “Stir inside of your brains with a penis/Until things are mixed well/Take a walk.” (Walk Piece, 1961 winter)
Some of my beloved poems are those in which time is concerned, such as the multiple Clock Pieces. Ono say, in one of the finest metaphors from Pamplemousse, “Steal all the clocks and watches/In the world/Destroy them.” No one could possibly get their hands on all the clocks within the world and destroy them, but that particular image portrays eternal history. Of all the sunrises, sunsets, good and bad weather, human life, growth, death, and wisdom that has developed over time that time has experienced, Ono forces the reader to try and hear something that is often seen. Thus, Ono gives the reader adequate shape to direct their thinking but also allowing space for her words to be openly interpreted. Readers can effortlessly impose their knowledge of what something sounds like or what a particular action feels like.
Pamplemousse and Grapefruit for that matter, is perfect for people who enjoy collections that are highly stimulating to the senses but can’t stand traditional flowery poetry. Ono’s metaphors create the same types of imagery without delicate language. Still her poetry sounds lyrical because of the way in which readers can interpret it. Much can be learned from Yoko Ono’s approach to imagery.
Photo with 11 notes
Yoko Ono poses in front of her installation HALF-A-ROOM (1967) in Frankfurt in February
Photo reblogged from with 31 notes
yoko ono - echo telephone piece, from grapefruit
(going to start semi-regularly posting excerpts from grapefruit, which is a beautiful collection of her work. equal parts cheerful, hilarious, heartbreaking, and reflective.)
On October 9, 1971 the Videofreex taped the exhibition opening for Yoko Ono’s retrospective “This is Not Here” at the Everson Museum. In this clip a work performed in the nude is cut short by police.
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