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– Reflections on the installation of War Is Over! (if you want it)

Posted on Jan. 10, 2014 in Exhibition Crew.

MCA’s Installation Manager Tony Mighell reflects on the secret site visits and gallery preparations that long preceded the realisation of Yoko Ono’s exhibition War is Over! (if you want it)

The 2011 secretive site visit, when the impossibility of finding steel capped boots small enough for Yoko, challenged and finally broke down the immutable workplace safety clothing rules for the MCA Watpac building site was the first incident where I sensed this exhibition was going to be different. And as Yoko and MCA Chief Curator Rachel Kent walked through the Level 3 gallery spaces discussing the show using terms like peace, for mummy, everybody’s relationship with their mothers, the magic of the sky, and softness and light in muted voices of shared vision, this sense of a different adventure intensified.

There was none of the decisive 'we need a wall here’, 'how high is that ceiling?’ that I was so used to hearing. So much was left to a felt and shared understanding between Yoko and Rachel of what the show was about, what it meant. Funnily enough the floor plan was very nearly completely set at that time, nearly two years ago, and has barely changed. There was so little of the type of crisp installation instructions we are so used to receiving, as the interpretation and understanding of the pieces and how they were to be installed was left as a gifted responsibility from Yoko to Rachel.

For all the necessity for hard facts, clear dimensions, and decisiveness there was a real sense that the show was being directed by some unstated idea understood by Yoko and interpreted by Rachel. Not easy, a new challenge, a different way to go about things but looking at the exhibition now it’s just as I’d hoped – a new and brilliant enunciation of Yoko’s work and vision.

War is Over! (if you want it): Yoko Ono runs until 23 February 2014 in the Level 3 Galleries

Installation sketch for Yoko Ono, MORNING BEAMS 1996 and Cleaning Piece - Riverbed 1996

Installation sketch for Yoko Ono, MORNING BEAMS 1996 and Cleaning Piece – Riverbed 1996,Installation view, War Is Over! (if you want it): Yoko Ono, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2013

Yoko Ono, MORNING BEAMS 1996 and Cleaning Piece - Riverbed 1996 © the artist

Yoko Ono, MORNING BEAMS 1996 and Cleaning Piece – Riverbed 1996,Installation view, War Is Over! (if you want it): Yoko Ono, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2013, Photograph: Alex Davies, © the artist