Interaction with Interactive Yoko Ono Piece Causes a Stir


Staying with Yoko Ono for a bit longer (how often do we write that sentence?), we turn to the big hubbub out west at the Seattle Art Museum. Story goes is that, late last month, an artist, Amanda Mae, who was also working as a security guard for the museum, decided to take it upon herself to work with Ono’s famous Painting to Hammer a Nail outside of the Ono-approved setup created by the museum to interact with the participatory piece — instead of just hammering nails into the painting, as Ono had originally intended, visitors were also allowed to hammer pieces of paper into the wall next to it. Mae decided to remove these pieces of paper and begin cataloging them in neat piles, creating her own piece in the process, Yoko Ono Excavation Survey. This didn’t fly with the museum’s officials and she was quickly booted from the job. However, because this is the art world and actions like this generate a lot more conversation than just “Can you believe she messed with that stuff like that? She shouldn’t do that,” there’s been lots of talk about Mae’s motivations, how Ono can dissuade this behavior when it involved a piece that requests interaction, the museum’s director worrying if he did the right thing, etc. If anything, it certainly got people thinking and talking, and isn’t that what art is all about? If so, in our minds anyway, it’s score one for Amanda Mae.