Yoko Ono, "Odyssey of the Cockroach"

TSUM, Moscow

May 31 – June 24, 2007

For the first time in Russia, as part of the 2nd Moscow Contemporary Art Biennale,
the Flo Art Fund presented the art-works of Yoko Ono, a prominent art-activist and an emblematic figure in European art.

John Lennon, with his usual sense of irony, once called Yoko "the world's most famous unknown artist". However over the years the adjective "unknown" has become less and less apt and it isn’t only due to her relationship with Lennon and their joint and very public actions. Yoko's personal projects are also appreciated by the world, for example, at the Venice Biennale 2009 she was awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion". Her solo exhibitions have been shown at the Kampa Museum (Prague), Detroit Institute of Arts and 2003 Venice Biennale. She has also participated in joint projects at the Mori Art Centre (Japan), Tate Liverpool Centre (UK), Baltimore Museum (USA), and other contemporary art museums in Montreal, Tokyo, Oslo and Paris.

Yoko Ono visited Moscow as a special guest of the Second Moscow Biennale. Her project entitled Odyssey of a Cockroach became one of the main events in the international programme and also the first project to be shown in the new exhibition area of TsUM.

Odyssey of a Cockroach is a travelling project: in October 2003 it was first shown at Deitch Projects in New York, and later at the London Institute of Modern Art. In Moscow Yoko showed the third version of the project, which she adapts every time for each new space.

Odyssey of a Cockroach is a grand installation, which takes the form of a complex mise-en-scene intended to show the experience of a cockroach travelling through a big city. The city with its grand buildings and piles of rubbish everywhere is a symbol of current history, while the main character, the cockroach, is identified with us, the spectators, as well as the author. To quote "Time Out New York", this exhibition is “a phantasmagorical passage through time – specifically the last century”: billboard size colour photographs show harsh urban scenes: a bloody murder, a house destroyed by a bomb, a starving child. Gargantuan objects like a 6-feet-tall rubbish bin which is filled with fragments of bodies made of plaster, a human-sized mousetrap, a toppled over chair and hundreds of old shoes which show us the cockroach’s point of view. On the giant desk covered in world maps spectators can see cards inscribed with famous quotations from the Hermann Goering Nuremberg Trials speech.

Yoko Ono decided to enhance the "odyssey" in Moscow with a number of films she made together with John Lennon and later by herself, as well as video recordings of several performances. The Master-class given by Yoko received a lot of attention and was a great final act for the international programme of the Biennale. 

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