Viral rewind: Yoko Ono's unnerving and unending MOMA performance

Ono's interactive installation at MOMA refused to be forgotten, reemerging as a Katy Perry cover two years later


Colin Gorenstein
September 5, 2015 6:45PM (UTC)

Today, we must sadly hit the pause button on "Viral Rewind," a weekly column which, for the last 7 months, has examined things that "went viral" exactly five years prior.

While in that 7 months, we most certainly didn't uncover any "shocking truths" behind what makes something go viral, we did manage to make ourselves feel profoundly terrible remembering Glenn Beck's "Founding Mothers" tribute, Avatar LAARPing, celebrity walk-off videos and 2 Girls 1 Cup. I would say that is something.

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Now, it seems only fitting that I leave you with the clearest proof mankind has that anyone — yes, even you, Poor Reader — can make something go viral: Yoko Ono's "Voice Piece for Soprano & Wish Tree" at MOMA, a 2010 performance in conjunction with the "Contemporary Art from the Collection" exhibition.

Here is a very accurate and not at all incorrect transcription from that performance: "aaaAaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAaoooOOOOOOHH-HHH-hhhh. Ow. Uh. Oh. Aaaaaah."

Two years later, Ono would unwittingly become the subject of yet another (even more) viral video from that very same footage: a cover of Katy Perry's "Firework."

By the time the clip had soared past 2 million views and made people go "Oh, oh, oh!" (I'm so sorry) it hardly mattered when it was revealed to be a fake, patched up by Youtuber Kroiker McGuire to fit with the Perry tune.

"'Voice Piece' is challenging our standards for what we consider appropriate to hear," Huffington Post wrote that year.

Below, the original video that spawned it all:

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Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email cgorenstein@salon.com.

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