Yoko Ono is reimagining her world
On 11 November 2016, Yoko Ono tweeted a 19-second recording of herself crying out in agony. Following the US Presidential Election result, the caption read: “Dear Friends, I would like to share this message with you as my response to @realDonaldTrump love, yoko”. After demanding peace for over 50 years, Ono is – understandably – upset at the current state of things.
An avant-garde icon, Ono has traced various shifts in culture. Her unflinching activism, largely indivisible from her art, has found a new audience with each generation – from the ‘bed-in’ and War Is Over! signs to recent campaigning against fracking and calling out her critics’ ageism shortly after her 80th birthday (“You don’t get that way, with Iggy for instance, a grand rocker, who is creating his own brand of Rock, just as I am,” she wrote on her Imagine Peace blog.)
Now 85, and staring down the barrel of our turbulent political landscape, Ono has channelled her rage and hope into Warzone, an album of ‘remakes’ – 13 reconstructions of her older material. It even re-imagines Imagine, the John Lennon classic on which Ono was recently recognised as a co-writer. An urgent record taking in issues like the environment and feminism, Warzone crystalises her ongoing call for an end to global conflict. As she suggests in our email exchange, despite her dismay, Ono is still dreaming of a better world.
What can we learn from Warzone?
You will learn what is happening now. Some people don’t think it’s happening.
Why did you choose to reconstruct your work for Warzone?
I was writing that when things in the world were not this crazy, most of us were not living right in the war zone, but we are now.
Things are changing for women in the arts. What’s left to change?
Everyday change is happening to all of us, and that is good. The accumulation of the change, by 10 years later, will be incredible. We talk about the 60s and 70s as a period of revolution.
What were the successes and failures of the era in your opinion?
We are animals that are always breathing, and after you breathe you have a second where you ponder. That’s how we animals are.
In what ways do you think we’re currently going through a revolution now?
We are going through a revolution, but the change will last if we think in terms of evolution.
What do you think about social media – both its potential and its impact on our lives?
I think it’s beautiful and it was in our minds until it happened.
How do we give women more power in 2018?
Now that the situation is on all our minds it will not take too long for it to change for the better.
Do you believe in astrology? What can the stars teach us?
Astrology is a very delicate, difficult thing. You can interpret it in the wrong way as well, but I think that it’s very important.
Where do you turn to for inspiration these days?
I don’t turn to anything, it just comes to me.
How do you maintain peace and strength in a world with so much negativity?
PEACE is POWER. We need more of that power.
As one of your track titles asks, where do we go from here?
That’s why I put Woman Power right next to it. Woman Power is the answer.
Design: Caterina Bianchini
Warzone is out 19 October via Chimera Music