The Beatle widow watched on as dozens of strangers cut her clothes off piece by piece in a Paris theatre on Monday – leaving the artist on stage wearing nothing but her underwear.
The 70-year-old Ono, who accompanied her Beatle husband in numerous controversial anti-war campaigns including the Bed-In for Peace against the Vietnam War, first performed her Cut Piece show in 1964 in Japan as a protest for peace.
At the end of the show then, she stood naked on stage.
Almost 40 years on, the slender avante garde artist again asked her audience to cut strips off her tight black top and long layered skirt, to send the cut-out pieces to a person they love.
“Never forget love,” Ono said as she sat down on a stool on the stage of Paris’ wood-panelled Ranelagh theatre.
Whispering to each other in low voices, art-lovers from all ages advanced towards the stage, with the artist’s son Sean Lennon being the first one to cut a hole into her sleeve.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Lennon said after the performance. “She is really brave to do this again. It was very moving and very intense.”
“It was nerve-wracking. She’s really brave to do this again”
Yoko’s son Sean Lennon
Ono looked straight ahead and barely moved as a man dressed in a suit cut a piece off her skirt to reveal a large part of her thigh and a young woman cut through the strap of her bra.
“I was a little bit scared,” Ono said after the show.
“But I wasn’t that scared because I tried to do it with love. And I think there is a lot of love out there,” said Ono, whose face barely shows any wrinkles. “I am older. But I felt that I was doing it for world peace.”
Ono has continued to stage unusual peace campaigns after her husband was shot dead by a deranged fan in December 1980.
Ahead of the war in Iraq, she took out full-page advertisements in major newspapers, conveying the message: Imagine Peace … Spring 2003.
“I think I came closer to people here (than in 1964),” Ono said. “I think we were all together and I think we can keep on doing things, and I hope that we will achieve world peace.
“In the 1960s I did it out of anger. But now, I’m doing it for love, and that makes a big difference,” she said, but added that she would not do the show again.