Reconsidering Yoko Ono
Lisa Carver
Backbeat Books ($18.99)
Lisa Carver’s Reaching Out with No Hands honors Ono’s central status as a pioneering, groundbreaking artist by questioning her work each step of the way. It’s a highly personal and idiosyncratic account—at one point, Carver (herself a performance artist as well as writer) says, “I feel such intense appreciation for her, yet it is not a warm feeling”—but her willingness to wrestle with a great forebear makes her text relentlessly charming. Some of the book’s chapters are as brief as a paragraph, and it’s form makes sense: Carver skillfully plumbs Yoko’s story from the point of view of the mediated, the seen. Her chapter on Bagism, for instance, recounts how in 2003, reporter Peter Jennings attempted to interview Ono but “was dragged into the bag to become an unwitting participant in the exploration of finding the pure human.” That’s art.

Yoko Ono, thank you for all your art, and happy birthday.