I have some familiarity with modern and contemporary art. I enjoy it. I know a Twombly from a Rauschenberg from an Ellsworth. A woman sits in a museum for weeks on end, silently, or a man creates artwork from explosions? I get it. Generally.
Not a fan of Yoko Ono. In 2002, I went to an Ono exhibit at the MoMA in San Francisco. It was one of the worst exhibits I’ve seen there: trite, pretentious, slathered with the artist’s name. I doubt my assessment of her work is unique — and, of course, others dislike Ono for other reasons.
Therefore, I highly, highly doubt this ad, which ran full-page in this week’s New York Times, is going to resolve the debate over fracking.
Don’t get me wrong: The science of the ad is generally but-not-always on-point, if hewing to a worst-case scenario. And I imagine that people scanning the ad from top to bottom would find it interesting, perhaps informative. But my concern is what happens once they hit the bottom and see that big “YOKO.” (Which is a hip expression standing for “You Only Kill-the-Beatles Once.”) If a reader has been conditioned to start rolling his eyes when seeing that name, will he be able to read the #DONTFRACKNY hashtag? Will he even be able to tweet at all?
If your response to this ad was different than mine, the group Artists Against Fracking is also holding a video contest. Create a 30-second TV spot or a three-minute explainer on fracking and Yoko (and her son Sean) may pick you as the winner.
The good news: The bar for a quality video isn’t that high.