Healing the frazzled mind

You remember Yoko Ono? The one who broke up The Beatles? Or rode the death of John Lennon to fame? But what people forget is that Yoko Ono was an accomplished artist long before meeting Lennon in 1966. To paraphrase The Ballad of John and Yoko, “You know you didn’t even give her a chance.”

Yoko Ono’s exhibition at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum, The Riverbed, is fun, interactive, and makes you think. The room is divided into three parts. The first is a scree of rocks collected from the Colorado River, hundreds of them, weighing three tons in all. But they’re not just for regarding, you’re encouraged to pick one up and then sit on a black floor mat holding that rock until all your anger and sadness is gone. Twenty of the rocks have a word or a phrase written on them. We saw “forgive” and “count your blessings” among the possibilities.

Part two consists of tables and chairs with a supply of broken crockery accompanied by glue, twine and scissors to make something and mend yourself at the same time. Once done, you can hang your creation on the wall with a descriptive note. Mine says, “Pieces of a life lived.” Part three is all about connectivity with more hammering and stretching of string from one point to another to another, creating an intricate web built on the handiwork of many others who have been there before you. Self-portraits and other penciled artistry decorate the walls.

At the Gardiner, you can spend as long as you want being healed, mended or otherwise entertained. Five minutes or five hours, take your pick. To my mind, that’s way better than those crazy Infinity Mirrors at the Art Gallery of Ontario where they made you queue forever on the phone for tickets then rushed everybody through the rooms in a matter of mere seconds.

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