Review: Yoko Ono’s “The Riverbed”

By Ripley Goodwyn

 “The Riverbed,” Japanese artist Yoko Ono’s latest venture, takes viewers on a journey of mindfulness and meditation. Ono, John Lennon’s second wife, has always valued viewer interaction with her art, and “The Riverbed” continued this trend.

“The Riverbed” is a two room installation with various activities. Rocks lay on the ground in the first room, with words like “remember” and “wish” written on them. Viewers are invited to pick up the rocks and focus on letting their worries and anger seep Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 9.56.18 PMinto the stone. However, this felt a little silly to do, and it was hard to push all of my anger and feelings into a single rock. The next art pieces invite viewers to hammer a nail into the wall and attach a string to it. Viewers then tangle the string into the many other ropes, which are attached to the wall and tangled at eye-level in the center of the room. This results in a mass of tangled strings that just made it hard to walk without dodging the strands. While this was enjoyable, there wasn’t really a therapeutic or meditative goal to the activity— it was merely tangling string into a bunch of other strands. The next component is the walls themselves. Along with the nails, viewers are intended to draw on the walls, writing sayings or sketching images. Almost every inch of the wall is covered in pencil sketches done by visitors. Again, this experience didn’t particularly relax or enlighten me.

The second room, titled Mend Piece, has a table at the center with hundreds of pieces of broken cups and plates. There is also string, glue, and tape, and the visitor is invited to mend the dishes using the provided materials. Ono explains that “As you mend Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 9.56.02 PMthe cup, mending that is needed elsewhere in the universe gets done as well.” While this is a nice concept, it is hard to relate to gluing a few pieces of broken ceramic together if the viewer is not completely invested in the metaphor behind the piece. Additionally, a small coffee bar is located in the back corner of the room, supposedly to inspire visitors’ creativity.

Overall, “The Riverbed” is essentially a few small art projects if the viewer is not entirely invested in the metaphors behind them. While thought provoking and out of the box, it can be hard to find a connection between the art and the meaning behind it. The installation was enjoyable, but there wasn’t anything particularly uplifting or meditative about it.

– Ripley Goodwyn, Staff Writer

Posted by on February 3, 2016. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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