TO THE LIGHT, a major exhibition of the work of celebrated artist Yoko Ono, reflected upon the enormous impact that she has made on contemporary art, exploring her influential role across a wide range of media.
TO THE LIGHT, Yoko Ono’s first exhibition in a London public institution for more than a decade, included new and existing installations, films and performances, as well as archive material relating to several key early works. Ono’s continuing interest in the relationship between the roles of artist and viewer was evident throughout the exhibition.
A number of works in TO THE LIGHT positioned both artist and viewer as agents of change. For example, a series of instruction pieces written especially for the Serpentine Gallery could be completed physically or mentally by the viewer, while the large-scale installation AMAZE transformed the viewer from the observer to the observed. Ono also presented #smilesfilm, a worldwide participatory project that encouraged participation online. Conceived as a way of connecting people across the world, the project invited people to upload and send images of their smiles by hash-tagging #smilesfilm, creating a global string of smiles covering the planet.
TO THE LIGHT at the Serpentine Gallery was part of the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week UK-wide celebration featuring internationally renowned artists, from Midsummer’s Day on 21 June to the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.
‘My ultimate goal in film-making is to make a film which includes a smiling face snap of every single human being in the world. Of course, I cannot go around the whole world and take the shots myself. I need cooperation…’ –Yoko Ono, 1967
‘A multi-media innovator – a pioneer who anticipated all kinds of performance and conceptual art pieces which, every so often, achieve a kind of poetic essentialism that is genuinely eyepopping and often moving’ –Simon Schama