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Richard Downes - disability arts online
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More Yoko No 5 - Heaven and Earth / 13 July 2012

a photo of an almost bare gallery space with a piece of rag on the floor

'A Painting To Be Stepped On' by Yoko Ono. Photo by Jeremy Hardman Jones

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Health and Safety Alert!!!!!

John met Yoko at the Indica Gallery. He climbed a letter to find a word that said YES. He was so pleased it wasn't anything negative and therein lies the roots of a love story.

It will never be repeated at the Serpentine for policies are used to stop you climbing the ladder. It strikes me that the ladder has a place between heaven and earth that some of us would prefer to have replaced by a ramp and why not.

It further strikes me that in this place there exist a number of references to the distances that lie between the earth and sky. Yoko manipulates them, inverts them, continues to have fun with them. This is the scope of her environment and ours. What can you do in this space?

 In the second chamber I find 'A Painting To Be Stepped On'. Yoko instructs; "Leave a piece of canvas or finished painting on the floor or in the street". Is the cut out canvas in front of me the original from winter 1960? If so how many times has it been stepped on, how many footprints has it borne. The piece looks like no more than a discarded rag. It is dispensable but it holds the history of all those who ever stood upon it - their pasts and their futures.

I feel nervous before it. I am challenged to respect it and walk around it or to respect it even more by putting my foot upon it. I choose. I plant my foot on the thinnest strip. It takes the full length of my big left foot but cannot sustain the width. I remove my foot. I am reminded how much I like to be grounded, have both feet upon the earth. I am more inclined to be here than in the sky, but admit that I sometimes dream of flying. I am reminided of a Laurie Anderson song: "everytime we take a step we are falling." Perhaps there is a point when we are flying too.

I put my foot back on the thin bit. It feels as if it is in a different place. I feel the gap between the canvas and the floor. It is small but it feels dangerous. There is no great distance to fall. I also feel previleged. I stand on a canvas cut apparently with japanese motifs which I am unable to recognise. I am challenged again. Do I invade another country in my actions. This limp old rag bit of canvas confounds me.

Other heaven and earth pieces exist here as I have said. I will not review the 13 upturned helmets which contain pieces of the sky, I will not comment on the 3 mounds of earth from different countries; say anything more about the ladder, or the card on the floor saying this is the ceiling; nor the card on the ceiling saying this is the floor.

And neither will I reflect on the potato cut game played with John and Yoko's feet that are now turned to show them walking together to the sky. I do wonder however; how much more time I will spend with More Yoko.