One of the best things about Yoko Ono’s solo exhibition ‘Anton’s Memory’ at Pallazetto Tito in Venice is that the coldness of her minimalist conceptual work is altered by the old traditional Venetian house. Somehow it feels more personal and sentimental.
The second best thing about the exhibition is no mention of John Lennon. This year Ono received the Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. “The world’s most famous unknown artist” as Lennon called Ono finally got recognition for her work, not her famous marriage. (Arguably, though, that might have helped.)
The show is mostly based on her early work, known as “instruction pieces.” These almost haiku-like pieces acquire an almost religious meaning in the Venetian house. The Catholic iconography of “Touch Me” becomes more profound when presented in Italy. It consist of body parts carved out of white marble and a granite bowl of water that mimics a water stoup at a Catholic church. The audience is invited to wet their fingers and touch the marble body parts.
The show’s curator Nora Halpern worked with Ono to combine old and new works to create Anton’s Memory. Halpern describes it as a physical representation of a son’s fading memory of his mother.
Many pieces are classic performances or sculptures such as Cut Piece, White Chess Set, Painting to Be Slept On, Sky TV, presented along side their newer incarnations.