Title: Cough Piece, 1961 (recorded in 1963)
Medium: Collection of the artist
While at first listen you may hear what you think is simple coughing, this work, Cough Piece, plays a very important part in art history and was a revolution of artistic ideas – forming early beginnings of conceptual art. In this work, Yoko Ono coughs continuously for thirty minutes, and this was a precursor to her instruction work “Keep Coughing a Year” where she instructs the viewer to cough for a year. Clearly it is impossible to cough continuously for a year, but by coughing for even a half an hour straight, one becomes more aware of their body and the sensations inside of it, and perhaps can expel negative energy and feelings in the process.
The famous musician John Lennon once said that Yoko Ono was the world’s “most famous unknown artist. Everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does.” In fact, most only know her as the woman who “broke up the Beatles,” but she is in fact a very important artist and has shown in some of the world’s best museums, and won the Golden Lion Award for Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2009. Yoko Ono was born in Japan and currently lives and works in New York, and her artwork and activism projects encourage the audience to imagine peace.