To put things in perspective, I was born after the 1st mp3 player was created. So relatively speaking, even though I’m no spring chicken, there’s still a whole world that I’m basically a stumbling duckling to.
So sometimes I stumble upon photographs, paintings or music that strike a cord within me. Usually much older than I am which turns the appreciation into a research mission to understand the context in which it was produced.
There are a plethora of creators in so many different mediums and sometimes I feel like even though I get exposed to their work. It’s always a fleeting moment in time and suddenly they’re gone in the wind never to be seen again ( unless I see them in my search results.)
I won’t really go deep into what this ‘series’ of posts will be centred around – you probably already get the gist of it.
I’m just going to jump straight into what I have discovered recently (who/what).
Before I bombard you with the history of this photograph, I’ll divulge into what I felt and thought when I initially saw it.
When you look into Yoko Ono’s eyes, there’s this emotion that I spent a couple of minutes to verbalize – to put in words but I can’t quite do it.
It’s almost as if she has dissociated herself from the this world. Her mind seems to be elsewhere. Yet at the same time there is this yearning, as if there is something beyond what we could comprehend that she desires. However amidst all these emotions, a peace is present – the same kind that you get while you’re floating in a pool.
A pleasant nothingness.
John Lennon has visually completely encompassed himself into her being – her essence. I like how his hand is threaded into her hair – her free flowing hair. To be a poetic sap for a second ( not that I’m not usually one.) I drew a parallel between this action and how the hair of women is highly romanticized and given power in the work of some poets and writers alike.
For the sake of having an example( so both you and I can be clear on this point.) I’ll drop Philip Larkin’s “Waiting For Breakfast, While She Brushed Her Hair”
Anyways back to the photograph. I was shocked Lennon. To be pressed up against Ono, there isn’t even an opportunity to have a guise of space. I love the way that gently cradles her head – perhaps he has deep respect for her mind and all that she contains.
My mind always floats back to the way he has moulded himself into her. I realized it was direct consequence of how in mainstream medium it’s always the other way around. That’s why this photograph seems so strange so out of place – why it impacted me so much. As well as the feeling of committing an intrusion of a private moment that it invokes.
The photograph was taken on 8th of December 1980 by Annie Leibovitz.
I’m going to go ahead insert an explanation of the context taken from The Study:
On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz was commissioned by Rolling Stone to photograph John Lennon and Yoko Ono, as part of the promotional efforts surrounding their joint album Double Fantasy. While Leibovitz had hoped that both Lennon and Ono would pose nude, Ono was uncomfortable with shedding her clothes. But Ono’s reluctance led to a legendary improvisation. Of the experience, Leibovitz has said: “I was kinda disappointed, and I said, ‘Just leave everything on.’ We took one Polaroid, and the three of us knew it was profound right away.” Later that evening, Lennon was shot and killed outside of his New York City apartment building. The magazine ran the haunting image (sans headlines) as its cover the following month.
That pretty sums up most of it. If you want to see more Annie Leibovitz work ( you could search her up.) or alternatively you could click here.
Thank you for sticking through it. Hope you experience something good today.