The Best Time I Ever Fucked up Yoko Ono’s Art Exhibition


Once up on a time I worked at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinbugh. Not in the actual gallery, but in the cafe/restaurant under a deliciously gay chap called Barry-ahh, who taught me how to make coffee and called me Princessa and referred to my doing the dishes as “going into my office”, which I rather enjoyed because I quite hated people, customers etc. It was my first uni job and I loved it.

Barry routinely hid / slept off a hangover in the room where the deep freeze was, especially when gay men who decided they loved him came in for lunch or coffee and would burst into song (when in a group), namely songs from The Wizard of Oz or South Pacific. They would leave notes under coffee cups for him and Barry (who was terribly good looking) would scream and run to the deep freeze room to hide until we gave him the All Clear.

In those days we played great Cuban music in the cafe and Diana and I wished we could wear t-shirts saying “I’m not a lesbian” instead of our “my heart skipped a beat” labelled uniforms because it was so massively gay and we were never going to pull.

A few weeks later Sadie joined our little team. By that stage we had been roped in to serve silver service style dinner (infrequently) of seared tuna and the like to Fat Cats, Fringe Festival Directors, artists and such.

That was the first time I had tasted seared tuna and Barry left six bottles of Very Good Champagne in the freezer too long many of them exploded and and we all had champagne slushies that night and Never Spoke of Them Again.

Anyway, this is a long and involved segway into the main bit.

Yoko Ono had an exhibition there. We’re talking 1998 maybe? Fuck I’m old. One of the exhibits was a green apple on a plinth. Oh the symbolism!

Another was a telephone on a plinth or up a ladder ro something which she was supposed to call intermittently from New York and someone viewing the exhibition would answer and they’d have some kind of wanky artist chat but she kept getting the wrong number and kept screaming “THIS IS YOKO CALLING” down the line to the office upstairs and we’d try to explain to her but she’d keep screeching louder and louder and then we’d hang up. Anyway, the apple. We were the last people to leave after all the achingly ultra-cool gallery hipsters left for the day and every night Sadie and I would creep into the gallery and take a bite out of the apple. Thus, perhaps, destroying Yoko Ono’s incredibly awesome and artistic thought on (the Beatles? John Lennon? Not sure). We were never caught and as the apple was replaced every few days, we’d sneak in for another bite, laughing our asses off as we ran away.

No one EVER noticed. This is art, people. It is what you want it to be.

I feel a little bit of guilt (but not really). I like to think we added depth to THIS IS YOKO CALLING’s exhibition and gave people stuff to think about, aside from a weekly amusement because we were bored and idiotic frustrated servers of fancy salad and coffee.

PS I also met Gerhard Richter who was elderly and quite nice, despite his penchant for exhibiting blurry photos of nude young women. He’s like a bajillionaire now. See? Doing an English degree and working for tuppence can bring untold rewards. Now someone please tell my father….

PPS There were a few things, Yoko, if you’re reading this (and I kinda suspect you’re not) in your exhibition that I thought were awesome. The stones of happiness and sadness, for example. I’m a little bit sorry for fucking with your installation, but really, it was an apple. An apple on a plinth. I like to think we added to it, but taking away. Take care!

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About ohhellwhatthehell

I like gin, mittens and otters, not necessarily in that order. Here's some stuff I felt like writing down when I'm not chained to a desk writing other things for a living. Please use caution when using this site; there may be sweary words, cute animals and general bullshit. Don't say I didn't fucking warn you.
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