This autumn at Whitechapel Gallery visitors will be invited to participate in an interactive installation by world-famous artist, musician and activist Yoko Ono (b.1933, Japan).
Broken fragments of pottery are presented on two plain white tables, along with simple materials for repair – glue, twine, scissors and tape. On entering the space participants are prompted by a set of simple instructions provided by the artist: ‘Mend carefully. / Think of mending the world at the same time.’ Once finished, the ‘mended’ objects are displayed on adjacent shelves.
Ono first presented this work as Mending Piece I at her 1966 solo exhibition at Indica Gallery, London, a renowned centre for countercultural art. MEND PIECE for London now returns to the city more than 50 years later, following Ono’s extensive career-spanning performance, writing, visual art, experimental music and film. Instruction-based works such as Mending Piece I established Ono as an important figure in the development of both Fluxus and Conceptual art, with participation and collaboration being central to her practice. These concepts are also intertwined with her ongoing and tireless campaigns for peace and non-violence.
MEND PIECE for London draws on the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with precious metals such as gold and silver. The process nurtures breakage as an important part of an object’s history, rather than seeking to disguise it. Likewise, in this artwork, the physical act of repairing becomes a timely metaphor for a different kind of mending that takes place in the mind and through community.
To ensure visitor safety and peace of mind, MEND PIECE for London has been adapted in consultation with the artist to accommodate social distancing. Sanitiser is available, ventilation has been increased and a member of staff is available at all times to assist. Yoko Ono: MEND PIECE for London is curated by Cameron Foote, Assistant Curator, Whitechapel Gallery.