La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela are among the first recipients of a new award established by Yoko Ono designed to honor courage in the arts. They have been recognized jointly for their “courage as an original composer and collaborative installation artist,” respectively. Gilbert and Lila Silverman were also honored “for courage as unique collectors.”
An award of $25,000 was presented to each couple at a ceremony at The Modern in New York City on February 1, 2009. Ono also presented Young and Zazeela with a hand-drawn inscription in the form of a poem. The inscription reads:
Courage Award for the Arts
is presented to
La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela
In recognition for their unbending
devotion to their art —
Never wavering in their pursuit
of its perfection.
As part of their acceptance speech, Young and Zazeela sang Raga Bhairavi, “I, the dog running with his sandal in my teeth,” a composition Young wrote in dedication to Pandit Pran Nath after his passing in 1996.
Ono instituted the award in order to “commemorate the courage she and John Lennon had 40 years ago in 1969 when they performed the Bed-In, their performance art work.”
During the ceremony, Ono noted that “in the age in which art is rapidly becoming an accommodation to the world of commerce and about to disappear from its original function of provoking and challenging our society with new and creative ideas, I feel it is most important to appreciate artists and collectors, such as Gil and Lila Silverman, and La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, who are still adhering to a firm stand in nurturing the growth of pure art.”