Yoko Ono: One Woman Show: 1960–1971

Chambers Street Loft Series

Yoko Ono. Chambers Street Loft Series. 1961

Unidentified performance in the Chambers Street Loft Series. 1961. Background: Yoko Ono’s Add Color Painting (1961) and other works in progress. Photo: Minoru Niizuma. Courtesy of Yoko Ono. © Minoru Niizuma 2015

Curator, Christophe Cherix: Ono moved to the United States from Japan in the early 1950s, and was soon living and working as an artist in New York. In 1960, she rented a loft on Chambers Street in Lower Manhattan, and began organizing events in the space with composer La Monte Young.

Yoko Ono: Well, by then, I knew a few people. And I realized that all these people usually create music in New York City. But there's no place for them to present their work. And I said, you know, I think it's a great idea if we created a place where all of us can present our music. It doesn't have to be big or anything.

Those days, some artists are taking lofts as their workplace. And it's not very expensive. It was amazing how I wanted that place. And, when I think about it now, whatever I wanted, I was going to do it – I was daring to do it.  But it's a coldwater flat, and it was in the winter. It was so cold, you know? We didn't even have electricity. And the downstairs guy was very kind and gave me a kind of huge heater that just goes, brrrrrrr, like that, and it was great. So with that and the electricity, I was made.

And so the first concert I gave – the only people who came was John Cage, David Tudor, who's a pianist for John Cage, MC Richards. I think it was the second or third, Peggy Guggenheim brought Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp.

The performance was very avant-garde, and what I did was I did with my voice, and I got the hint from a Japanese kabuki. You have the long hair, and you just turn around like a dance, you know? And each person who did something, they were very, very original and incredibly interesting. So it was very exciting.

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