Cheryl TT graduation

Everyday I am grateful for the practice of yoga and the instruction I receive at Luna Yoga, where I have been a student for almost ten years now. As I began to learn more about the teachings of yoga, I couldn’t help but make associations with the artist Yoko Ono, whose work we are presenting in our upcoming exhibition. Yoga shows us how to focus on the breath as a way to come into the present moment, while making more space in the body for peace and love. While part of yoga is a physical practice, the wholeness of yoga engages with our spirit, which nurtures compassion and hope as we cultivate a union with our Divine Selves. From that union we may transcend from our attachment to the body and mind in order to be truly free. What I have found since exploring these beautiful tenets of yoga, is that they have so much in common with the ideas that come out in the art of Yoko Ono.

Yoko is a visionary artist who has made ground breaking contributions to the evolution of art. She is a pioneer who has questioned the nature of the art object and has broken down the traditional boundaries between artistic disciplines for the benefit of artists today. The exhibition ‘LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM’ accentuates the cornerstones of imagination, action, and participation in the Yoko Ono’s work. What we hope to transmit with this exhibition is that Yoko is at once a singular artist who has made major contributions to what art is and what art can do, while underscoring her tireless activism for peace through positivity and hope.

The exhibition is presented in two parts. The first entitled “The instructions of Yoko Ono” are works that invite the action and participation of the visitor in order for the work to be complete. She offers a few simple instructions for us to read and follow. Through our participation, which could be hammering a nail or climbing a ladder, we engage in an action, much like in our asana practice, in order to open up our perception to ideas that may lead to reflection and perhaps even moments of emancipation from our smaller selves. The instruction works can be easily produced in our minds, or made from everyday objects that do not attempt to be timeless. By highlighting the impermanence and reproducibility of the work of art, Ono tears down the boundaries between art and everyday life, building a bridge to greater artistic freedom.

Yoko and John at the University of Ottawa, June 3, 1969 Courtesy of Allan Rock

Yoko and John at the University of Ottawa, June 3, 1969
Courtesy of Allan Rock

The second part of the exhibition, “The Art of John and Yoko” relates the arc of collaborative art projects undertaken by Yoko Ono and her late husband John Lennon. Their union went beyond marriage to occupy their lives as two artists who put their egos aside to work together on projects that included performance, sculpture, films, books, live and recorded music, as well as poster campaigns, mail art projects, and the now iconic Bed-Ins for peace. Very much in line with the approach to classes at Luna Yoga, their art is rooted in playfulness and the desire for freedom for all. As a result, it seemed entirely fitting to invite the incredible teachers at Luna Yoga to offer classes throughout the run of the exhibition. We are very proud to combine our offerings as a way to connect yoga practitioners with the work in this exhibition and to invite foundation visitors to discover the benefits of yoga.

In the spirit of Ono and the practice of yoga, the foundation is also committed to freedom and accessibility on a number of levels. Our exhibitions are free of charge to the public as a way to reinforce the idea that art is part of our everyday lives. Rather than a rarified thing reserved for only the few, we believe that art is for all of us, and an expression of our concerns and pre-occupations, necessary for the building of a healthy society.  Yoko Ono’s art is ultimately driven by generosity and the desire for meaningful connection. For her, art and life are inextricably linked, which is the same way I have come to understand yoga. It does not begin and end with the mat. Instead it is a way of being – a way to grow freedom.

- by Cheryl Sim
Managing Director,  Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art &
Co-Curator of ‘LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM’ an exhibition of work by Yoko Ono 


April 25 – September 15, 2019 at Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain
451 & 465 rue St-Jean 
Wednesday to Friday 12 PM – 7 PM
Saturday and Sunday 11 AM – 6 PM


May 1 at 7 PM – Francesca Knowles (bilingual)
June 5 at 7 PM – Jennifer Silver (in English)
July 3 at 7 PM – Raymond Dimitri (bilingual)
August 7 at 7 PM – Alexandra Kort (in French)
September 4 at 7 PM – Myriam Turenne (bilingual)