Photo: Courtesy of Interview Magazine.
Yoko Ono's done a lot of things in her lifetime. She's captured the perambulating posteriors of her colleagues, she's helped to expand the limits of artistic practice as a critical member of the Fluxus movement, and she's demonstrated that she's an incredibly bad dancer. What she did not do, as she has repeatedly reminded everyone, is break up The Beatles.
Speaking recently with film critic Elvis Mitchell for Interview magazine (and photographed by Craig McDean), Ono once again pushed back against what Mitchell calls the "thoughtless broadsides" of her career — which has endured since the late 1960s. "For years," writes Mitchell, "Ono's work — musical and otherwise — was, in large part, dismissed and derided; at best, it was often misunderstood." But, now at age 80, she's perhaps more relevant than ever, having recently released both a new album and a new book, curated a London music festival, and launched a career-long retrospective of her art that is currently touring the globe.
Ono may sound a bit hyperbolic when she describes her feelings about the Beatles breakup accusation, but it's one that she's been dodging for more than 40 years. "That was like being somebody who is in prison without having done anything wrong," she tells Mitchell. "It's like you're accused of murder and you're in prison and you can't get out. That's why I finally came to the conclusion to use that big energy of hatred that was coming to me and turn it around into love."
That love is her indefatigable devotion to her work, in all its forms. "I don't particularly consider myself just an artist," she says. "I'm a woman — I'm a human being — and there are a lot of situations that that covers." (Interview)