Yoko Ono loses her shirt in repeat of drama for the sake of global harmony

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The Independent Online

Imagine. The 70-year-old woman sat in silence on a darkened stage while each member of the audience climbed up and cut off a piece of her clothing.

Last night, John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, presented a bold performance which, true to her roots, was dedicated to world peace.

Prompted by recent international events, Ono staged a repeat of her legendary art "happening" 'Cut Piece', first performed in 1964.

She stepped on to the darkened stage before a silent audience shortly after 9pm at the Ranelagh theatre in Paris.

Dressed in a flowing black silk skirt and shirt, and her distinctive tinted glasses, the Japanese artist sat on a solitary chair on the black stage in the small auditorium.

Then, one by one, the 200 members of the audience were invited to step on to the stage and become part of the artwork by cutting off a piece of her clothing with a pair of scissors.

While some were bemused, there was one member of the audience who knew exactly what to do. Sean Lennon, Ono's son, aged 27, joined his mother on stage before kneeling on the floor and snipping a piece off her clothing.

Members of the audience were then instructed to send the cut cloth to "a loved one" in the name of world peace.

After one hour, during which the 200 spectators cut away at the artist's clothing, Ono found herself in her black undergarments seated on her chair.

The end of the performance was marked by the arrival of an aide on stage, carrying a robe for the artist to wear.

Speaking after the event, Ono described how she was motivated by the simple desire to spread world peace. "I was just here to say imagine world peace, and to say I love you," she said. "Let's create a peaceful world. I'm hoping these things will help."

Last night's appearance was a repeat of her famous 1964 performance in Japan, which captivated critics and saw her name spread across the world.

She went on to perform Cut Piece at the Carnegie Hall in New York the following year.

It was these performances that confirmed her status in the art world, two years before she met Lennon in 1966.

While nearly 30 years have passed since she first performed the piece, the underlying theme of Ono's enduring request for world peace remained in the 21st century. Writing in a presentation for the show, Ono, whose work is currently being exhibited at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, said: "Following the political changes through the year after 11 September, I felt terribly vulnerable - like the most delicate wind could bring me tears. Cut Piece is my hope for world peace."

The message was not lost on the audience, which ranged from the old to the young.

Katherine Williams, a student aged 18 from California who was not born until more than two decades after the first performance, said: "Scissors usually have a violent connotation, but she turns it around to make it peaceful. I think that's what she's saying - you can make peace out of violence."

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