Somewhere amid the grief for which she is an unwitting living reminder, the lingering (if misguided) resentment over the end of arguably the greatest rock band to ever exist, and the 25-minute songs of anguished wailing, the world lost sight of Yoko Ono’s sense of humor. After all, as John Lennon once told Rolling Stone, he was initially attracted to Yoko through her hilarious artwork, where she did things like put an apple on a stand next to a £200 price tag. (Apples typically sell for much less.) And over the years she’s continued that avant-gutbusting through spectacles like her guerrilla “Museum Of Modern (Fart)” show, her naked-butts-on-a-treadmill film Four, and her recent clothing line of “Butt Hoodies” and the like. She’s even done some funny stuff outside of butts, like that time she believed mankind was capable of world peace.
But of course, the greatest measure of one’s sense of humor is not whether you can tell a joke, or even tweet zingers like these on the regular. It’s whether you can laugh at yourself—and more importantly, whether you can reference The Simpsons. Judging by the new Ono-curated exhibit at Iceland’s Reykjavik Art Museum, she can, on both counts.
“Yoko Ono: One More Story...” is billed as “a voyage through the notion of art itself, with a strong social and political engagement,” and it more than lives up to that laugh riot of a logline thanks to the contribution of one Ragnar Kjartansson. His piece consists of a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat—something Simpsons fans will recognize as the drink ordered by the Yoko Ono stand-in who drives a conceptual wedge between the members of “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet.”
There doesn’t seem to be any additional explanation for Kjartansson’s work from the museum or artist, so we’re left to draw our own conclusions about how it fits into Ono’s objective of investigating art’s “ephemerality while de-sanctifying the object, as well as enlisting the participation of spectators in its material realization.” (Though obviously, it demands that the audience play a role in the creative process, by bringing its own semiotics, prejudices, and familiarity with golden-era Simpsons.)
Some sources have suggested that Kjartansson submitted “Single Plum” as a prank, cruelly taking advantage of Yoko’s risible lack of knowledge about throwaway gags on a 23-year-old cartoon to mock her pretensions. But we choose to believe Yoko accepted it by way of saying she’s in on the joke, as a rejoinder to the many who have laughed at her art rather than with it—and because it’s a lot easier than having people climb a ladder up to a spyglass trained on a tiny photo of her butt.