SH: First impressions of Shanghai?
Yoko Ono: This is my first time in China. I had absolutely no expectations. When I arrived at the airport I felt how I imagine Marco Polo must have felt when he first came here. I was in total awe. It was incredible.
SH: Is it difficult being an avant-garde artist and standing apart from the mainstream?
Yoko Ono: I guess it's lonely on this side! But I'm me. I'd rather be myself than copy someone else. Having said that, I'm simultaneously proud and sad about who I am – an artist, and a woman in a modern world.
SH: What do you think of women's position in society these days?
Yoko Ono: It’s very bad. Even in a developed country like the United States, you go to a hospital emergency room and one out of every four women being treated there will have suffered domestic abuse. Society doesn't seem willing to do anything about it, so I feel that I need to stand up for women.
SH: What inspires your art?
Yoko Ono: I really don't know what inspiration is. My ideas come to me when I don't have any thoughts. I like to keep my mind as empty as possible to let the ideas get through. When I have other things like family stuff in mind, the ideas don't come.
SH: How do you deal with criticism?
Yoko Ono: It's human nature to fear not being accepted by society. I'm a human being, so I feel that way too. But I believe in my work. Critics are fallible – some of them may not be good at their job. A lot of people hate me for marrying John Lennon, and that hate is huge. However, I have so many fans that I turn all of my attention to being loved.
SH: Do you still hope for world peace?
Yoko Ono: Of course. Peace has always been my major concern. – Raemin Zhang