Yoko Ono Explains Why Peaches Is the Future of Performance Art

Peaches re-performs Cut Piece.
Photo: Flickr. © Holger Talinski
Peaches. Photo: londonist.com

Peaches.
Photo: londonist.com

The musician and artist known as Peaches, aka Merrill Nisker, recently released what is billed as an “outrageous and provocative photograph book” titled, What Else Is In The Teaches of Peaches. In addition to images of famous friends, the book includes essays by artist Yoko Ono, actress Ellen Page, and R.E.M frontman Michael Stipe, among others (see 7 Facts That Will Change the Way You See Yoko Ono).

In Ono’s essay, which is reprinted in full on Jezebel, she relays watching Peaches enact her groundbreaking 1964 performance Cut Piece, which involves sitting on stage silently as audience members cut away pieces of the performer’s clothing. Peaches did the performance at London’s Meltdown Festival in 2013, and Ono says “Cut Piece will never be performed again with such eloquence.”

“There was a lot of talk about it,” Ono recalls. “I don’t think she will—it’s not an easy piece…” That sort of talk.” Ono notes that she found it interesting that all of this talk was “said in whispers” rather than spoken aloud.

Yoko Ono performs Cut Piece in 1966.

Yoko Ono performs Cut Piece (1966).
Photo: washington.edu.

Peaches re-performs Cut Piece. Photo: Flickr. © Holger Talinski

Peaches re-performs Cut Piece.
Photo: Flickr. © Holger Talinski

“Backstage, Peaches casually said she didn’t have any problem getting totally naked. When she was finally on the stage, I realized what she meant. She sat quietly but her body was expressing a universe,” Ono states. “What I discovered in Peaches was the new-age performance artists and how they are. They are not scared of being beautiful and showing it. Whereas we, the past feminists, thought it was important to look like soldiers if we wanted to be taken seriously. No more.”

Peaches discussed the performance with the Guardian prior to the festival, and expressed a serious concern: “I hope nobody cuts off my nipples.”

For more on Yoko Ono, see Art Critic Gets Trapped in Bag at MoMA’s Yoko Ono Gala and After Bjork Fiasco, MoMA’s Yoko Ono Show Makes a Case for Art and Celebrity.


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