Work on Monday: “Play It By Trust” by Yoko Ono

Today, Work on Monday looks at a longstanding outdoor installation by avant-garde artist Yoko Ono. “Play It By Trust” was permanently installed in 1999 at the LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton.

Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.

Play It By Trust
Yoko Ono (b. 1933)
Marble dust, concrete
36 x 198 x 198, 1999

Ono’s “Play It By Trust” is a large marble and concrete chess set installed outside at LongHouse Reserve, founded by Jack Lenor Larsen to exemplify living with art in all forms, through its collections, gardens and outdoor sculpture. Featuring two sides of giant white chess pieces on a white on white board—a skewed version of one you might find at Club Med or some Caribbean resort—the message of this conceptual work is fairly straightforward, especially given Ono’s history as a peace activist. With two sides of exactly the same size, shape and color, playing a chess game on the board would quickly devolve into a confusing mess, and finding the winner would be next to impossible.

Chess, of course, is a game representing war, which the artist abhors. She shows us that both sides of a conflict are equal and the same, and trying to tangle with and kill fellow citizens of this planet is truly a fool’s errand. While one could argue this sculpture is an easy metaphor, Ono’s genius is in the work’s clear and accessible, simplicity. She is not interested in muddying the message.

To view Yoko Ono’s “Play It By Trust,” one of the Hamptons’ lesser-known artistic gems, visit the LongHouse Reserve at 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton. Call 631-329-4299 or visit longhouse.org.

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