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feminist artist yoko ono & feminism in japan

Yoko Ono is one of the most famous Japanese all over the world. What is she famous for? Yes, as a John Lennon's wife. But aside from it, she is a great feminist artist who has been working on it since 1970s and still in presence. I feel that Yoko's work is not valued as much as she deserves, especially in Japan. Unfortunately, performance art and fine art is not so popular category of arts in modern Japanese society and people tend to prefer visual images. I honestly was not so interested in Yoko when I was in Japan and started discovering her works in my fine art studies in the UK.






There are some feminism works by her but I will be showing one of her master piece works, 'Cut Piece'. 'Cut Piece' is a performance art that she has been working on from 1970s. Yoko had the performance a few times all over the world such as New York and Tokyo. Here is the performance in 1965 in New York.

'Cut Piece'(カットピース)は彼女が1970年代に初めて発表したパーフォマンス作品でその後も世界のいろいろな場所で何回か公演されています。下の動画が1965年に行われた実際のパフォーマンス動画。

(Yoko Ono - Cut Piece)

So... What do you think? This is a video that Yoko sat down on the stage and audience, who had no idea about concept, were told to cut her clothes whatever they want. Audiences didn't know what's about and Yoko didn't say anything.

How did you feel to watch it? Could you guess the concept?

パーフォマンスを見てどう感じたでしょうか? ヨーコはステージに座りコンセプトについて何も知らないオーディエンスは彼女の服を好きなだけ好きなように切っていいと言われます。その間ヨーコは何も言いません。


I didn't know the concept but I personally thought the concept is very obvious when I watched it for the first time. I also asked to some of my friends in my University, what they think about it and they all thought the same thing as me, but one of them says that maybe it's hard to understand to people who is not familiar to art. So, I asked some of my friends who are from not art universities.



Interesting thing happened. I asked 5 Europeans and 3 Japanese and all Europeans not completely but they felt something and got the meaning of the works and none of Japanese girls didn't get anything. I know that I only asked 8 people in total but I was so shocked that my Japanese friends didn't feel anything from it.

They said "I don't know, I didn't feel anything. What's this?"

A Japanese friend who raised in Europe and I had a talk that Japanese women don't get angry when men say or do some sexist things to women. I think I didn't get angry with those horrible things when I was teenager too.

I was told that "you would look better if you lost your weight" by one of my male friends. I didn't even say I want to be skinner or anything. He just randomly told me. I was't get mad to him I was just shocked and though "I'm fat. I need to lose my weight."

Those things happen everyday normally in Japan. Men think it's okay to say those things to women and women think it's okay to let men say those things to them. I really don't think Japan is a feminism country. However, maybe the reason is not only Japan is a sexist country, but also Japanese people are not good at expressing their feelings in general. Also, in our culture, people tend to make a large group of people that everyone has the same opinion and that'w how our society works, too. Maybe women get hurt and offended by men but they don't care because it's how it works.

BUT this is just my very personal opinion so let me know what you think about it!

5人のヨーロピアン、3人の日本人に聞いたところ、興味深いことにヨーロピアンは完全にコンセプトがわかった、理解できたとは言いませんが、’見ていて辛い’ ’悲しくなる’と何かを感じたようでした。それに比べ3人に日本人の女の子たちは全員 ’何も感じなかった’ ’意味がわからない’と答えました。もちろん合計で8人に聞いただけなのでこれで日本人は〜とは言えませんが、この結果はとてもショックでした。






The concept of the work is how men treat women in society. Women (Yoko Ono) is just sitting and don't say anything nor rejecting to men (audience.) Men (audience) are cutting her clothes and laughing while she keeps silence.

It's a works from 1970s, but I don't think the situation of women in society has changed much in 2016, nearly 2017. I want Japanese women to know it's okay to get angry, not blame yourself. Ignore not only men's but also people who try to let you down. (I know it's not that easy tho)

"Cut Piece"のコンセプトは社会で男性がどう女性を扱っているか。女性(オノヨーコ)は何も言わずに座り、何も言わず男性(観客)を拒否しようともしない。そんな中、男性(観客)は彼女の服を笑いながら切っていく。


Although I said 'you can get angry', I personally don't say anything when people say something rude to me. I don't know it's just my personality. I don't get hurt like as I used to but now I'm more like 'oh wow you are rude but i don't care hahahaha bye'.

I don't know if I should get mad and say something back to them or not.

Well, probably get angry or not isn't the point.

The thing I wanted to say is ' Don't listen to people who try to let you down.'

And Yoko Ono is a great artist.

でも、’怒ってもいいんだ’と上で書きましたがそんな私は実際あまり怒りません。私の性格なのでしょうが、でも昔みたいに言われたことで傷ついたり(まあちょっとはするけど)もしないし、どちらかと言えば言い返したりはしませんが ’ウワーーーー失礼な人。さようなら。’って感じなので。




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