Hans Ulrich Obrist: And that is the famous smile piece?
Yoko Ono: Yes.
HUO: It’s a very early piece.
YO: You know right now they have it on the internet. They have a website just called http://smilesfilm.com and people are sending their smiles to it.
HUO: But what is so interesting is that I was always thinking of this smile theme of yours, because there is this great interview with John Lennon which I found on the internet, from Rolling Stone, and John was saying that basically you wanted to have one million smiling faces from all over the world. And in some kind of way I was thinking…
YO: Now it’s happening…
HUO: That you invented the internet 40 years before. Because that was 42 years ago on…
YO: And now they’re adding German smiles! Contemporary German smiles, on the second floor.
HUO: So basically the archive of smiles grows wherever you go, whenever you do a show. It’s a growing archive…
YO: Well I don’t have to even do a show. When you visit the website, you see that people send their smiles to it from all over the world. When I first thought about it I thought the concept is good, but its not interesting for me to just watch people smile, so I didn’t click into the smile website until about a year ago. Then I clicked in, and I kept looking at all these people smiling, and I started crying, you know, because right now this world is so desperate for a smile, and they were all sending in their smile, like this could be their last smile or something, and I just felt very touched by it.
HUO: It’s also like it’s a big planetary sculpture which could change the world, because with all these smiles you can make the world a better place.
YO: I know, isn’t that great? Just recently, I think about a year ago actually, I explained how to smile, not just with the mouth, not just with the mouth and eyes, but eventually with your whole body. It’s really good.
HUO: It’s a whole.
YO: It’s a very important one. I was talking about my experience, not being able to smile, because John passed away and I just looked at the mirror and I saw this face with the mouth kind of turning down, and I thought, this is not good. So I tried to smile with my mouth, and then with my mouth and eyes. Then one day I knew that I was smiling with my whole body.
HUO: I also love it when you say you should smile from your knees.
YO: Ah, yeah, yeah, isn’t that great?! So anyway, this is a very strong show for me in Berlin, the strongest in a way because all this stuff that’s happening in the gallery, and then in the end we end with a smile.
‘We’re Going Upstairs To Smile’
Yoko Ono interviewed by Hans Ulrich Obrist