“In this performance Ono sat on a stage and invited the audience to approach her and cut away her clothing, so it gradually fell away from her body. Challenging the neutrality of the relationship between viewer and art object, Ono presented a situation in which the viewer was implicated in the potentially aggressive act of unveiling the female body, which served historically as one such ‘neutral’ and anonymous subject for art. Emphasizing the reciprocal way in which viewers and subjects become objects or each other, Cut Piece also demonstrates how viewing without responsibility has the potential to harm or even destroy the object of perception.” -Art & Feminism, Edited by Helena Reckitt, with a survey by Peggy Phelan
Yoko Ono was a major figure in the 1960s New York underground art scene, and she continues to produce work and make headlines today. Of several iconic conceptual and performance art pieces that Ono produced, the most famous is Cut Piece (1964), first performed in Tokyo, in which she kneeled on the floor of a stage while members of the audience gradually cut off her clothes. In the ’60s and ’70s Ono was associated with the Fluxus movement—a loose group of avant-garde Dada-inspired artists—and produced printed matter, such as a book titled Grapefruit (1964) containing instructions for musical and artistic pieces. Other works include Smoke Painting (1961), a canvas that viewers were invited to burn. John Cage was a major influence and collaborator for Ono, as was the godfather of Fluxus, George Maciunas.