In 1967, Yoko Ono installed a live feed of the sky above London’s Lisson Gallery, flooding sun, light, and clouds into the art space. It was “a TV just to see the sky,” the artist said. At the time, Ono was living in a windowless home and “wanted so desperately to have a sky in my apartment.” For her, the sky has held a healing presence, as she recalls in interviews that during her childhood in World War II Japan, “the sky was always for there for me.” Over the years, she continued to make artworks about the sky, most recently installing a blue mosaic speckled with clouds in a New York City subway.
Since 5:45am Pacific time, at sunrise in Los Angeles, museums around the world have been streaming videos of the sky on Zoom. In collaboration with Ono, the Getty Research Institute and the Feminist Center for Creative Work invited around 50 museums to project 24-hour videos for “TV to See the Sky,” an event marking the summer solstice and the first full moon of the season, known as the strawberry moon.
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It’s 10:47am in Los Angeles, where the sky above the Getty is a steady baby blue, fading into the ocean. There is nighttime rain above M+ in Hong Kong, bubblegum pink clouds are clustering over Houston’s Center for Photography, and the colors are fading from gray to champagne at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. The sky comes in all shades: a deep royal purple in Jacksonville, Florida and an opaque sea green in Moscow. Clouds are swirling like smoke or the milk in your tea; a bird and a plane fly by, and a squirrel scrambles along a telephone wire.
As Andy Warhol said of his eight-hour film of the Empire State Building in 1964, we’re here “to see time go by.” I’m reminded of Byron Kim, who has painted the sky every Sunday since 2001, scribbling a daily thought on his square canvases, using the open and free space above to release and collect pent-up feelings. And of Luchita Hurtado, who flipped her viewers on their backs to gaze up at the moon, which she called the “umbilical cord of the Earth.” As Georgia O’Keeffe once wrote of the sky, “There is something wonderful about the bigness and the lonelyness and the windyness of it all.”
You can stream “TV to see the Sky” via Zoom or YouTube.