Wednesday, June 24, 2009

John Lennon: The NYC Years

I went with M to John Lennon: The NYC Years exhibit at the Rock N’Roll Hall of Fame Annex. Yoko Ono curated the show, which includes the photographs she took of John’s bloody glasses and his personal effects after his murder.

I did a bit of web research because I was looking for a particular quote from the show, and discovered that Yoko has been much criticized for including those items in the exhibition. I believe that those people who see exhibitionism and exploitation in such a display are running away from the truth of what happened—that murder was committed, and the loss is just as palpable now as it was 29 years ago.

This is another indication of how much of our culture seeks to avoid and dismiss great personal tragedy and violence. Looking at these artifacts brings home the personal nature of what happened to John, making him not just an icon, but a human being who was gunned down.

There is blank white canvas hanging next to these artifacts that asks people to sign their names. The canvas will be sent to President Obama along with an entreaty for stricter gun laws.

I applaud Yoko for having the courage to face all of the ugliness of John’s death and show it to other people. My takeaway was that this is a woman of great bravery.

She says:

"John, who was the king of the world and had everything any man could ever want, came back to me in a brown paper bag in the end. I want to show how many people have gone through similar tragedies."

Powerful words showing that we leave this world as we come into it and that, indeed, through that experience, we are all one.

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