Living legend Yoko Ono would actually rather be known as Yoko without the Ono, having always hated her last name. Surname or no, her first solo show in Shanghai, Fly, has caused quite a stir.

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