Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Nick Riggle on Cut Piece


Image via Imagine Piece. Photo: Ken McKay, © Yoko Ono; Courtesy Lenono Photo Archive.

This is entry #86 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Nick Riggle, University of San Diego

Artwork: Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece as Performed in Paris in 2003

Words: Ono first sat on stage in 1965, wearing her best suit and inviting people on stage to cut off pieces of it. It’s about giving, sharing, and trust, allowing the audience to be some unfamiliar version of themselves, in all the uncertainty that this entails for both artist and audience. “It draws something out of people”, as Ono put it, “the positive and the negative side of giving”. Originally performed for artists and intellectuals, in 2003 it was for ‘anybody’, and for the first time she asked that the cut pieces also be shared, given “to the person they love”.

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