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Home /  Exhibitions / Past Exhibitions / YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED
Detail of Mend Piece


Thu Feb 22 to Jun 03, 2018, All Day

Please note: On June 3 from 12 to 5 pm, the public will be invited to participate in a new work by Yoko Ono entitled CLEANING PIECE FOR GARDINER to commemorate the closing of the show. Visitors will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors who buy advance tickets online are not guaranteed front-of-the-line entry and will need to be checked in at the Front Desk. Please visit the event page for full details.

The Gardiner Museum is pleased to present a three-part installation by Yoko Ono entitled THE RIVERBED. Yoko Ono is a forerunner of Conceptual art who frequently involves collaboration, audience participation, and social activism in her artwork.

YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED invites visitors to collaborate with the artist, the museum, and each other, participating in the artwork through everyday action and contemplation. YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED, in a sense, becomes a temporary village—a repository of hopes and dreams for individuals and for the world.

Stone Piece features a pile of river stones that have been honed and shaped by water over time. Ono has inscribed some of the stones with words, such as dream, wish, and remember. Visitors are invited to pick up a stone and hold it, concentrating on the word, and then placing the stone upon the pile of other stones in the center of the room.

Line Piece is comprised of a series of low tables with notebooks in which visitors are encouraged by Ono to “draw a line to take me to the farthest place in our planet.” Visitors may also extend a string across the gallery space using hammers and nails to secure it from one point or another, creating a web that will grow and evolve over the course of the exhibition.

Mend Piece reinforces the idea of healing. Fragments of broken ceramic cups and saucers are placed on a table for visitors to reassemble using glue, string, and tape, before positioning them on shelves around the all-white room. In Ono’s words: “As you mend the cup, mending that is needed elsewhere in the Universe gets done as well. Be aware of it as you mend.” (November 19, 2015)

The space also features an espresso bar courtesy of illy where visitors are encouraged to enjoy a complimentary cup of espresso together, forming another kind of union.

YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED was first mounted at Gallerie Lelong & Co. and Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York City, in 2015.

About Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono (born February 18, 1933) is an artist, musician, filmmaker, and peace activist.  In the last sixty years, Ono has continued to play a pioneering role in the international development of Conceptual art, experimental film, and performance art, and has been acknowledged progressively more for these roles. In 2015, the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1961-71, which reinforced her influence as one of the most important agents of cultural change. She received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009, and the Oskar Kokoschka Prize in 2012, Austria’s highest award for applied contemporary art.

Exhibition Programs & Events

Wednesday February 21, 10 am – 6 pm
Friends Day Preview
Gardiner Friends are invited to join us for an exclusive preview of the exhibition, as well as a tour with curator Meredith Chilton at 2 pm.
Learn more

Friday February 23, 7 – 10 pm
Voice Pieces
Co-presentation with The Music Gallery
This intimate concert presentation will explore the legacy of Yoko Ono’s instructions, and present new works by three local artists: The Element Choir, an improvising choir directed by Christine Duncan, Lillian Allen, the internationally recognized godmother of dub poetry in Canada, and Mamalia, the former lead singer of the Juno-nominated contemporary jazz troupe Sekoya.
$18 General / $15 Gardiner Friends + Music Gallery Members

Monday February 26, 6 – 9 pm
Monday March 5, 6 – 9 pm
Monday March 19, 6 – 9 pm
Friends Nights
Gardiner Friends are invited to join us for members-only nights when you’ll gain special access to the exhibition.
Learn more

Eyeblink is a three-part monthly screening and performance series that draws inspiration from Ono’s 1960s and 1970s filmmaking. Here, the body cannot be separated from the body politic, actions speak louder than words, and closely observed cinematic gestures challenge traditional gendered representations. Each monthly event will sample Ono’s works shown alongside ambitious presentations of local female artists working in time-based art and performance.

Thursday March 15, Doors 7 pm; Start 7:45 pm
Eyeblink 1
Fires: Myung-Sun Kim and Julieta Maria
Co-presentation with Pleasure Dome and FADO Performance Art Centre
$10 General / $8 Gardiner Friends; Students; Pleasure Dome Members

Thursday April 26, Doors 8 pm; Start 9 pm
Eyeblink 2
Hashtag Solidarity: Kiera Boult, Sancta Maria, Ninkuru Zinduru, Erica Whyte, blackpowerbarbie, and Myst Milano
Co-presentation with Xpace Cultural Centre, The RUDE Collective, and Pleasure Dome
$10 General / $8 Gardiner Friends; Students; Pleasure Dome Members
Get tickets

Thursday May 17, Doors 8 pm; Start 9 pm
Eyeblink 3
Smash the Patriarchy: Frances Leeming, Ronnie Clark, Annie Wong, Kelsey Whyte
Co-presentation with Younger Than Beyoncé Gallery and Pleasure Dome

$10 General / $8 Gardiner Friends; Students; Pleasure Dome Members
Get tickets

Guided Meditation
Clear your head, silence your phone, and experience YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED in solitude on a quiet Saturday morning. Co-presented with the Shambhala Meditation Centre of Toronto, these intimate guided meditation sessions will take place in the exhibition space, just before the museum opens to the public.

Saturday March 24, 9 – 10:30 am
Connecting with your basic nature
$30 General / $25 Gardiner Friends

Saturday April 21, 9 – 10:30 am
Staying open in any situation
$30 General / $25 Gardiner Friends
Get tickets

Saturday May 12, 9 – 10:30 am
Bringing meditation into everyday life
$30 General / $25 Gardiner Friends
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Monday March 26 and Wednesday May 23, 6:30 – 8 pm

Co-presentation with the Munk School of Global Affairs
Sponsored by Manulife
Inspired by Ono’s peace activism, this two-event series moderated by renowned international relations expert Janice Stein, will pair artists with academics to discuss how governments and citizens are shaping their future in the digital space.
$18 General / $15 Gardiner Friends
March 26
: Get tickets
May 23: Get tickets

Presenting Sponsor

Partners in Art

Exhibition Partners

La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso

Hal Jackman Foundation

Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation


Government Supporter


This event has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

With thanks to Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto.

Header image: Yoko Ono, Detail of Mend Piece (Galerie Lelong, New York 2015/2016), 1966 / 2015, ceramic, glue, tape, scissors, and twine, dimensions variable; Installation view: THE RIVERBED, Galerie Lelong, New York, December 11, 2015 – January 30, 2016 © Yoko Ono, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York