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AP Interview: Yoko Ono's new art work invites viewers to seek healing amid violence

BERLIN (AP) — At the center of Yoko Ono's new installation is a perfectly round bullet hole shot through a large pane of glass that John Lennon's widow says challenges viewers to confront "incredible violence and abuse" in the world today.

Titled "Das Gift" — a play on the word's meaning in English, a present, and German, poison — the exhibit opened in Berlin Friday. The 77-year-old artist told The Associated Press she hoped it would force viewers to confront violence without losing hope.

"I want all of us to understand what is going on in the world now, which is incredible violence and abuse," Ono said. "Instead of just putting that reality under the rug and just forget about it, we have to face it."

The centerpiece of the installation is called simply "The Hole," the oversized bullet hole in the window that Ono said she made with the idea of the violence that takes place daily around the world.

"There are many, many holes in many, many windows in our world. And I was thinking about that," Ono said.

But it then took on a larger, more personal meaning as a tribute to her late husband, slain outside their New York City home 30 years ago in December.

"When I made it, I though, ah, I remember," Ono said.

In addition, the installation features seven overcoats that were worn by people who were shot at point-blank range, and a wall where viewers' shadows are projected and intermingle.

There is also a series of German army helmets suspended from the ceiling and filled with pale-blue puzzle pieces — pieces of "sky" that viewers can take home with them.

In an upstairs room, people are invited to smile into a computer fitted with camera, allowing their happy images to be added hundreds of others that Ono has collected in a database — some of which are flashed onto an adjacent wall.

Ono said she wanted to show the installation in Berlin, where it runs at the Haunch of Venison gallery until Nov. 13, because the city's turbulent history paralleled the turmoil that touched her own life.

"I felt all the time that I was making this that people in Berlin would understand me," Ono said.

She said her ultimate aim is to spread a message of hope and peace.

"There's a dream of hope, and I think that this century that just started now, started very badly, but it is going to be very beautiful," Ono said.

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