Peace and Love
The John Lennon Imagine Peace Tower
It can sound cliché and might seem naive in the face of the world’s problems, the atrocities which take place every day, but somehow, when I experience the art of Yoko Ono, I feel that peace and love are not hopeless, banal or simplistic wishes; I feel profoundly heartened and moved.
The Imagine Peace Tower in the photograph above has been lit every year since its unveiling in 2007, between the 9th of October, John Lennon’s birthday and the 8th of December, the date of his death. It stands in Iceland, Reykjavik, on Videy Island as a symbol of a worldwide wish for peace.
Something present for me while visiting the Yoko Ono exhibition, To The Light, at the Serpentine Gallery, was a tangible sense of her love for John Lennon and an essence of the young, joyous love they shared together. In one of Ono’s “smile” pieces from 1968, she exhibits a portrait that moves. The video shows a slowed down shot of Lennon gradually breaking into a smile. I am drawn into this unfolding moment and can’t help but smile in response. My mind is taken to the ideal images we hold in our imaginations of loved ones, so treasured, that they become brighter and more pertinent with poignancy. Another piece on the same wall, shows Lennon and Ono’s faces merging into one as they playfully gaze at the camera on a blissful summer’s day.
John Lennon Smile Portrait
Their love, which seems to filter throughout the exhibition, informs Ono’s wish for global peace and love, their relationship capturing the magic essence of the possibility. Perhaps in union with another human being, we have in some way, all touched this hope.
Ono’s “smile” portrait of Lennon was the beginning of a worldwide project she is undertaking to collect an image of every smile on the planet, as a statement of human peace and unity. One can sign up to twitter #smilesfilm to become a part of her film. Bellow is my contribution, taken at the gallery.
My smile portrait (2012)
On entering the exhibition one finds soldiers helmets, suspended on strings. The helmets felt to me like a heartbreaking symbol of the dead and the lost.
Pieces of sky
The power of Ono’s art to imagine a future of peace, I feel, is that she looks at the brutality of the world face on, but offers the hope for something more. Paper wishes from wish trees, which have been placed in countries across the world for people to contribute to, will be buried as part of a time capsule in the ground around the base of the Imagine Peace Tower and the light will project all our wishes for peace up into the heavens. You can watch a short documentary about the tower’s making here.
A few words from Ono’s inauguration speech:
The light is a light of healing, wisdom and empowerment. Even in the moments of confusion, fear or the darkness of your souls, hold the light in your hearts and you will know that you are not alone. That we are all together. In seeing the light of peace.
The Imagine Peace Tower and Northern Lights
A wish tree outside the Serpentine Gallery
To the light exhibition. Yoko Ono (2012)