Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Performance photographs and the (un)clothed body: Yoko Ono's Cut Piece

Johnson, Clare


Clare Johnson
Associate Professor in Art & Design


This is a working paper.

Clothing played an important role in a number of performance art events during the 1960s and 1970s. Performances such as Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (1964), Marina Abramović’s Rhythm 0 (1974) and Hannah Wilke’s Super-T-Art (1974) implicated the viewer in an embodied relationship with the (un)dressed artist. In these works fabric was variously torn, bound, wrapped, folded and cut off the body. The movement of fabric as it is wrapped and gathered, the sound of cutting clothes away from the body and the charged atmosphere of a potentially violent encounter are all imagined in the photographs that exist of these works. This article explores the relationship between performance and photography in Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece, a performance in which members of the audience cut fragments of clothing away from Ono’s body. Far more than documents that record live events, as if supplementary to the real encounter, these photographs have their own aesthetic, which informs the way we ‘remember’ the performances and understand their significance. Using the dialogue Ono sets up between performance and photography, this article challenges the dominant feminist reading of scopic violence in Cut Piece and considers the work as an event scattered across time.

Journal Clothing Cultures
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Johnson, C. Performance photographs and the (un)clothed body: Yoko Ono's Cut Piece
Keywords performance art, photography, temporality, feminist art, Yoko Ono, Cut Piece
Additional Information Additional Information : This is a working paper.


ClothingCultures_pre-review_article_ClareJohnson.doc (66 Kb)

You might also like

Downloadable Citations