Visitors to Yoko Ono’s The Riverbed at the Gardiner Museum were invited to add to the piece by creating webs, placing stones and mending broken ceramics. So it’s fitting that when the exhibit closed this weekend, visitors joined in once again — this time by taking parts of the installation home with them.
“Clean your mind, Clean your world, Clean your universe,” were the written instructions given to the hundreds of art enthusiasts who lined up outside the exhibit at noon Sunday for a one-day event called, “Cleaning Piece For Gardiner,”
The museum offered boxes to the first 500 visitors to collect their selected pieces in.
“Take a tiny piece of the show,” the instructions read. “Add colour to the box, Send it with love.”
Yoko Ono is known for her conceptual and experimental art. The three parts of The Riverbed were meant to create a “temporary village” where collaboration is key: In “Stone Piece,” visitors handled and piled river stones; in “Line Piece,” visitors drew lines on notebooks or physically extended a string across the exhibit to create an ever-expanding web; in “Mend Piece,” broken shards of ceramic cups and saucers were placed out for visitors to put back together using tape, glue, and string.
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“There was such a warm energy and a genuine sense of connection and of being part of something truly special,” said Rachel Weiner, Senior Manager of Marketing with the Gardiner. “We’re delighted that these pieces were able to find new homes and a life beyond the exhibition.”
The ceramics from “Mend Piece” were the quickest to find homes in visitors’ boxes. A number of woven hangings and braids from “Line Piece” were also popular, Weiner said.
“Visitors took the works that spoke to them, which varied greatly from person to person,” she said. “There were so many voices and points of view represented in the show.”
Even after the boxes ran out, no one was barred entrance, she said, as there were “tens of thousands” of items to choose from.
“No one went home empty-handed,” Weiner said. She added that over the course of the exhibit’s three months of being open, more than 12,000 people had visited and participated in it.
“We are honoured that Yoko Ono created this instruction piece for the Gardiner and the people of Toronto, who responded with such openness and creativity.
With files from Ilya Bañares