Yoko Ono “Das Gift”

While visiting Berlin, I stumbled upon a magazine with an exclusive interview with Yoko Ono about her new exhibit, Das Gift, currently at Berlin’s Haunch of Venison. After following her for quite some time, I found the timing of this to be serendipitous. It was my last day in Berlin and  I felt hungry for something alive, interesting and giving to prepare me for my final show. Yoko has been an inspiration for me as an artist and human being so I was excited to see her new installation.

The Haunch of Venison in Berlin is located north of the main train station on Heidestrasse. The walk itself was kind of interesting because there is not much going on there except for construction and some motorcycle shops. We thought we had approached the Haunch when we came upon a bunch of converted industrial warehouses that were galleries. Finally, we found the Haunch next door and entered Yoko’s exhibit.

There were a few things that made the experience exceptional for me– first is that the entire gallery is dedicated to Yoko’s show. There was a concentrated feeling of her presence because it was all Das Gift. This magnified the exhibit rather than it being a small part of a large museum where there are paintings next door.  Second, was the fact that it was almost entirely empty, so Rob and I were able to experience it in silence and space without crowds of people.  It made me think about how hard it was for me to view Marina’s show at the MOMA last Spring because of all the people ( though of course, she deserves the attention.) In this kind of space, there was so much more intimacy and since Yoko’s works often encourage viewer interaction, the setting of this show was perfect.  And last–the exhibit truly was a gift–it was a FREE show from Yoko to us.

Now for the work itself– in true Yoko form, the entire exhibit focuses on peace in the midst of violence. Right when you enter, there are suspended helmets holding puzzle pieces of blue sky and white clouds. Piece Of Sky invites the viewer to take a small piece of sky with them, remembering that we are all part of this picture together. Her bullet-shattered glass is stunning. In close viewing, the cracks in the thick pane of glass appeared deep, multi-layered,rich and beautiful. In a following room, she invites the viewers to tack on a note, picture or memory to a location on a map of Berlin telling a story of pain. This was provocative in idea since Berlin is such a changing city. Several people attached notes on gentrification, some people drew pictures,attached poems and located places they had sex with strangers. Soon there will be so many memories attached that it will cover the map entirely.  Upstairs is a playful piece Berlin Smile where there is a projection of a bunch of people smiling. On the side of the room is a photo booth where we sat down to take our picture to add to her collection.  A very simple idea but after sitting there for a few minutes we did find it to be heartwarming.  There were several other works on display as well that all fit into her concept of gift and poison. To find out more about it , visit Haunch of Venison. The exhibit will be up until November 13th.