philip sumner


Conversations with Legends: Yoko Ono talks with Philip Sumner (from


A few years back I visited a Yoko Ono retrospective exhibit in Japan featuring the work from her 1966 show at the Indica gallery. This was the show that acquainted John Lennon with Yoko's work. At the time I was very familiar with the Beatles catalog and much of John's later work, but not at all with any of Yoko's. The experience was revelatory. She was charming and daring and progressive!! Progressive in all the good ways. What a pairing for John Lennon, who was always, always at the forefront, pushing and examining consciousness. It all made such perfect sense.

Anyway, I have been an admirer of hers ever since. John and Yoko's time together is the most interesting and impactful of all the “Beatle” time. And they were charming and daring together. The fact that Yoko is still going strong these years later is a testament to the relevance of her thought and progressive nature. And in the bigger picture what could possibly be of higher value than progression?  Needless to say, I was very happy to have the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her latest remix project (among other things).

Philip Sumner: How do you see the remix projects fitting into the scope of your work?

Yoko Ono: I am amazed that what I didn't expect to be in my life has just started to flower into something very important for me.

PS: How do you relate this musical work to your installation work, or do you?

YO: I am very easy with both media: art and music. For me, there's no difference when I deal with them. I love them both.


PS: Can you please tell me a little about your writing process?

YO: When I am inspired with a song, I immediately write it down. Unless I do that, quite often it just flies away and never come back.


PS: Were there specific events behind each verse in "Wouldnit"?

YO: I was the woman with a cup a tea. I was the guy with a cowboy hat, and I was the child who hung herself.


PS: When do you feel most alive?

YO: When I am doing my creative work.


PS: Are there any new performers in the music world that you've gained inspiration from during this project? And where do you find new music?

YO: I received an incredible love from my fellow artist Lady Gaga, a very talented woman. For somebody who has been walking alone for the longest time as an unappreciated artist, this is grand.

I find new music everywhere. But especially in me.


PS: You are quite a revolutionary thinker and I'm a great fan of your time together with John and your many endeavors during that period. Is there anyone today whose vision you particularly admire, musician or not?

YO: There are now so many artists around the world who are wise and aware of the problems we are facing together as world citizens, and doing what they can to change the situation for the better. I admire all of them.


PS: I saw your son Sean play a show with Vincent Gallo a little while back and it is clear Sean is a great talent. I was very interested though in what Vincent was doing with his performance and feel that you also are approaching music from a non traditional point of view.  Could you tell me a little about your relationship with Vincent? I believe you played a show together and I see you both as interesting, forward thinking individuals.

YO: Vincent and I speak the same language. We are made of the same clay, so to speak. I love the way he is. A guy who is permanently choked up because of his sensitivity.


PS: Do you see evidence of a shift toward Peace in today's world?

YO: The fact that it is getting so unbearably violent. That's a sure sign that it is about to go in the different direction.


PS: Where do you see "courage, audacity and revolt" today?

YO: In me, and in many of the real people.


PS: Do you believe that there is only GOOD and that negativity is an illusion. Or do you feel a negative force exists?

YO: Negative forces are a front without the inside or the back. Keep doing what you believe in. Don't focus your attention on illusion.


PS: What do you hope for?

YO: That we will clean and heal our world so that our world will become an oasis for our Universe.


PS: A while ago I walked up a white staircase and at the very top there was one small word. Can you tell me what the word was?

YO: YES. That's the one, right?


PS: Thank you very much for taking time to answer these questions and moreso thank you for the impact you have had on the world. Your positivity and drive are treasures. The staircase installation is my favorite ever.

YO: Thank you.


PS: I would like to tell you one thing and that is this:

You are good. You are loving. You are kind. You have infinite intelligence. You have infinite strength. You are an idea and you are perfect.

YO: Thank you for your great affirmation for me. I love you!