John and Yoko – Free Time – PBS Television, May 1972
“I want to deal with the world that is in subconscious. Not the world in consciousness but underneath the consciousness. That is where I am.”
“I’ve never seen a TV show like this before. Maybe I’m on the wrong channel!”
By Madeline Bocaro ©
This revolutionary one-hour long show, which aired on PBS in 1972 is actually one of the most succinct explanations of Yoko’s works that exists. Many of Yoko’s art pieces are performed (from A Grapefruit in the World of Park); Bag Piece, Sweep Piece, Peek Piece. The audience participates in her unfinished paintings; Hammer A Nail, Add Red Painting, and Draw A Circle. Her instructional pieces from her 1964 book Grapefruit are displayed on large cards. For her Grapefruit piece Fly, people jump off a white ladder, and John catches them at the bottom. Clips from her films, Bottoms, Up Your Legs Forever and Fly are shown. Yoko breaks a vase for Promise Peace. During this hour, Yoko explains the premises of her work.
There is a bizarre audience question and answer segment, in which John, Yoko and filmmaker Jonas Mekas answer only with more questions.
At the 50-minute mark, Yoko explodes into a raging scream-fest.
The grand finale is Wrapping Event; John and Jonas wrap Yoko in gauze as she breathes loudly and repeats, “Total communication equals peace.” At the end, John and Jonas carry her mummified body offstage, as she rattles off the show’s credits.
Watch and listen to Yoko calmly and sincerely speaking these words about her art and music…
I think everything is just part of something, you know? And so that until you collect all the pieces together, you wouldn’t know about totality. For instance, we look like each person, one being each, but maybe we’re just half a person just looking for another half of us, you know? So everything I do is all unfinished, and they’re just all going to one direction – some direction. To make a total picture, or to help make a total picture.
My singing and my films, both are different parts of the totality, and that’s why they’re so different. In my singing, I think I’m just expressing something that is desperate. That is something that you can’t express in words because It’s too desperate. Just like you scream when you are just drowning and just like you’re stuttering in your mind all the time before you talk. I want to deal with the world that is in subconscious. Not the world in consciousness but underneath the consciousness. That is where I am.
Almost like in a dream. That’s where you can just be free. That’s the only place that you are really free. Otherwise we are always controlling ourselves to become socially acceptable. We’re walking in a socially acceptable way. We’re talking in a socially acceptable way. We control our energies so that we will be sitting politely. We use 80% of our energies to become acceptable because we want to be loved by everybody. That’s why even when we have thoughts that we think that people will not like, we try to control those thoughts. We try to not think about something that we consider, or they consider obscene. We try to not think about anything that the world thinks is immoral All our energy is spent on being something that we are not. All our energies are spent on just being something proper. That’s not us.
I think that there are 2 classes in this society left now. One is the class that believes that they can communicate and the other is the class that believes that they can’t communicate. And the class that thinks that they can’t communicate is suffering because of inferiority complex. They think well, we don’t have enough money to, we don’t have the connection, we don’t have the opportunity, or the talent, but actually that’s not true at all. The only difference is between people who realize their desperation. Their desperate desire of communication, and people who don’t realize their desperate desire for communication.
People who think they’re cool and they don’t have to communicate. The other side is the people who know very well that they have to communicate. If you really realize that you have the desperate need of communication – and communication means understanding, reaching, love – then you will do anything. Then when you are really desperate, the necessity of the desperation will give you talent, will give you the imagination necessary to communicate. And we shouldn’t’ think that the only way of communication is TV or radio or accepted medias. There are many ways to communicate. That’s why I say it isn’t that the media is the message, but I think the message is the media. Everybody has a message and that already is the media.
Everybody has their own media to express themselves. And once the whole word realizes that, they will make total communication. And when they make total communication, there will be peace. Because when you totally communicate, when you are totally understood, totally loved, totally appreciated, there will be no feeling of violence left in the world, and that’s when we will have total peace.
I think we communicate more than we think. I don’t think it’s enough just to touch each other. I think we can communicate more but I think everybody’s communicating more than they think through a subconscious world. I think that’s possible.
Wrapping Event. John and Jonas wrap Yoko in gauze as she breathes loudly and repeats, “Total communication equals peace.” John and Jonas carry her mummified body offstage, as she rattles off the show’s credits.