Back in 1961, Yoko Ono created a so-called “instruction painting”—one of her artworks that engages its viewers—named “Voice Piece for Soprano” which included only three general commands, all of which began with “scream.” Decades later, however, Ono found a much more specific direction to aim her wailing at: The weekend following last year’s Election Day, she shared a 19-second audio clip of her wailing to her nearly five million followers as her “response” to the election of Donald Trump.
In case you’ve been living in a cave, the past year has since repeatedly proven itself to be equally scream-worthy, from the president’s plans to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts before he was even inaugurated, to his press secretary’s statement last week that it is the “official White House position” that every single one of the notably large number of women who have accused Trump of sexual assault is lying.
And so nearly a year later, when the artist and musician Laurie Anderson set about to honor Ono at a dinner last week for the performance art biennial Performa by recreating “Voice Piece,” she decided at the last minute to make a similar adaptation. Before kicking things off with a giant gong, Anderson informed the night’s guests that the performance would also double as a trial run for what she hoped would be a nationwide wail on the anniversary of last year’s Election Day, November 8.
“I told her, my god, if we could get the whole country to do it, it would humiliate the s–t out of him,” the artist and activist Marilyn Minter, who gave Anderson the idea, said of why she was determined to bring plans for collective screams across the country—a Boston version of which she’d happened upon on Facebook—to New York.
“New Yorkers are good at making big noises outside our windows,” Minter elaborated on Tuesday after a trip to this year’s polls, which she was pleasantly surprised to discover were quite crowded. “Everyone screamed outside the window when Obama won.”
There are also of course more official plans to “scream helplessly at the sky on the anniversary of the election,” too, including a gathering at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday at Washington Square Park in New York. As of right now, however, Minter plans to wait until midnight—a bit closer to when the actual election results were announced—not that she’s at all picky when it comes to her or anyone else’s timing.
“Just yell out your window—I’m going to just yell out my window,” she said simply. “Just scream your frustration about having this toxic, narcissistic monster as our president. What’s the big deal? What’s so hard about that?”
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