Known primarily as an artist and musician, Yoko Ono made films throughout the 1960s and ’70s, both on her own and in collaboration with John Lennon and Fluxus artists. More than half a century later, these films have retained much of their conceptual rigor, formal inventiveness, sly wit, and provocative bite. In Film No. 4 Ono offers a procession of nude bottoms of every shape, sway, and swagger. A traditional portraitist might depict the face or hands to reveal something of the sitter’s personality. Nontraditionalist Ono does so by displaying her subjects’ bottoms.
When Film No. 4 premiered in London, the British Board of Film Censors had already guaranteed its commercial success by giving it an X rating. Taken together, the bottoms that parade on screen offer an expression of humanity at its most vulnerable, uninhibited, and egalitarian—a dance of hope in a world riven by war and hatred. Ono’s written score for her film offered this instruction: “String bottoms together in place of signatures for petition of peace.”
Organized by Josh Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, with Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, and Danielle Johnson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.