Cut Piece Goes Red
performance with Leah Gose and Natalie Wetzel
The Moon, Grand Rapids, MI

In Yoko Ono’s original Cut Piece performance, Ono sat on the floor wearing a black dress with a pair of scissors nearby. The audience was invited to cut the dress she was wearing. Through the performance, the at-first-timid audience members eventually became emboldened, to the point in which once the dress was cut from her body, participants then cut her bra, exposing half of Ono’s form.

Ono’s performance, simple in structure, is layered in meaning: what does it mean to make oneself so obviously vulnerable? What are the structures in a culture that keep us in line or allow us to transgress?

Another part of the original Cut Piece questions agency and ownership. The participants in the performance have the option to expose the performer; they may act upon another. Ono’s body, then, no longer is necessarily hers.

Cut Piece Goes Red follows a similar line of questioning: who may act; what do we assume that is ours do we actually own? What are the structures that bind us, and who may take part in cutting those binds?

For Cut Piece Goes Red, the three women artists/academics involved in the restaging of the performance create a scenario in which they acknowledge the power of Ono’s piece and in which they critique the cultural and institutional restrictions they face.


As the participants to the performance entered the space, they were greeted with Wetzel and Wyckoff already bound in red tape, an image of Yoko Ono's original piece projected, and Ono's music playing. Gose then introduced the performance and invited the participants to engage. Provided for cutting the tape were tiny scissors. The participants then cut at pieces of the tape until with the assistance of Gose, Wetzel and Wyckoff were able to free themselves from the remaining binds.

photography by Mark Andrus

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