Bottoms or No. 4

Yoko Ono's film Bottoms or No. 4, was made in 1966. Two versions of the film were made. The long film is 80 minutes and consists only of human buttocks walking. The camera is very close to the skin with the buttocks actually filling the screen. The crack between the cheeks and the crease between the buttock and the leg divide the screen into four almost equal sections.

Each individual buttock is filmed for a varying amount of time, from ten seconds to fifteen. There is no break in-between people, the frames flow immediately into the next person.

The soundtrack consists of interviews with those who are being filmed as well as those considering joining the project. The issue of whether the viewer will be bored is raised and while listening the viewer has a sense that their actual experience is being commented on. There are also clips of the news coverage of the filming in London and an interview with Ono as she discusses the conceptual design of the film. The track adds a lot to the experience of the film and the viewer begins to realize that particular buttocks are being repeated as well as clips from the soundtrack, leading to a connection between what we see and what we hear.

The film becomes a study in the anatomy of the human body. The viewer faces the fact that they are left with no choice but to compare the buttocks one to another. Ono framed each shot precisely the same way, lining the bottoms up for comparison and study. We examine the way the folds come together, the shape of the cheeks, the movement as the person walks, as well as the texture of the skin. The issues and opportunities are faced on a part of the body not usually open to scrutiny.

Yoko Ono can be viewed as a radical artist, someone who requires an open mind in order to have her work appreciated. She stretches the limits of what society views as acceptable and never ceases to create an opportunity for the viewer to step back and reflect.

--Shahbeila Bateman
November 30, 1999

Yoko Ono Work