Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1965
Yoko Ono
Cut Piece

Yoko Ono (*1933, Japan, USA) has been creating a comprehensive and pioneering body of art consisting of music, poetry, performance, film and conceptual art since the 1950s. She was a major figure in the Fluxus movement in New York in the 1960s, and she is a forerunner of conceptual and performance art.

artist's website: imaginepeace.com

In Cut Piece, which was first performed in Japan in 1964, in New York in 1965 and later in London, Yoko Ono invites audiences to cut away pieces of her clothing with a pair of scissors. She is virtually motionless throughout the performance, surrendering herself to the different reactions of audience participants. The intimate encounter between the artist and the audience becomes a symbol of (female) passivity and vulnerability, while the latent potential for sexist and racist violence and for a destructive desire becomes increasingly apparent. Cut Piece is one of Yoko Ono’s many ‘Instruction Pieces’ which are based on a score and intended to be re-enacted by others. Many artists have since followed her invitation and continue to perform Cut Piece today. In 2003, the year the US troops invaded Iraq and almost forty years after Yoko Ono first performed Cut Piece, she re-enacted the performance in Paris as a call for peace and a demonstration against the political climate after September 11th, 2001. She asked the audience to send the cut pieces of her clothing to a loved one as a sign of reconciliation.

Performance: 21 March 1965, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York
Performance: 15 September 2003, Theatre Le Ranelagh, Paris

Courtesy Yoko Ono

Document media
Video, b&w, sound, 9:10 min / Video, colour, sound, 46:00 min

Issue date
1965 / 2003

Valie Export Society (VAL1)

fluxus, gaze, sexual violence, touch, voyeurism, vulnerability