Excerpt from Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’ (1965)
For a feminist analysis of this piece, see this article:
Yoko Ono did a performance called “Cut Piece” in 1965. In this piece, Ono sat on a stage wearing a black dress with a pair of scissors and invited viewers to participate by cutting her dress. As seen in the YouTube video, at the beginning of her piece people are very hesitant to cut her clothing, but as Ono’s performance goes on people become more daring. Near the end of her performance, participants cut more and more fabric of her dress, until it is left in tatters. One of the final male participants cuts her bra straps, almost revealing Ono’s breasts. Throughout most of the performance Ono sat still while people cut her dress, but near the end she began to move more, and then had to hold her bra up after the straps were cut, so that her breasts would not be revealed.
Gender is addressed directly in this piece because Ono is becoming a sexual object. She does not talk or move much throughout “Cut Piece,” causing her to become an object rather than a subject with a say about what is being done to her. In class we have talked extensively about women being portrayed as sexual objects rather than subjects, and “Cut Piece” is showing Ono as a female sexual object rather than subject. Ono does not say anything throughout the piece, but through her facial expressions near the end of the YouTube clip, it is evident that she became uncomfortable with how sexually aggressive people have become with her body and her clothing.