"Wish Tree for Tokyo" by Yoko Ono at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), Tokyo, Japan,...
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Yoko Ono's famous participatory artwork, "Wish Tree" has been presented all over the world since 1996. The inspiration of "Wish Tree" can be traced back to Ono's childhood memory in which many white strips of paper were tagged around the branches of tress at Japanese shrines and temples. These white strips of paper are called "おみくじ Omikuji", and they are random fortunes written on them. As a tradition, Japanese people fold and tie up Omikuji onto a tree after they've read it, wishing for a better future or prosperity. For "Wish Tree", on the other hand, Ono asks the spectator to write a personal wish on a piece of paper - instead of just reading like Omikuji - and then hang it around the branch of a tree so that the wish will come true someday.
When Ono's art retrospective show, "YES YOKO ONO", traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), Tokyo, Japan, from April 17th to June 27th, 2004, among the many works which Ono made in the 60's, some new works including "Wish Tree for Tokyo" were presented.
After the above-mentioned exhibition was over, the "Wish Tree for Tokyo" was donated to the same institute by the artist. The tree, which is a Japanese maple, was planted at the sculpture garden, and spectators can participate with this work once every year on December 9th.
The following is the official statement issued by the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) for "Wish Tree for Tokyo" on December 9th, 2008.
Wish Tree for Tokyo
2004年の春、東京都現代美術館で開催された「YES YOKO ONO」展の出品作品、＜＜東京のウィッシュ・ツリー（願掛けの木）＞＞が、オノさんから当館に贈られ、美術館の庭に植樹されました。オノさんは毎年12月9日 に、多くの方が美術館を訪れ、願いを書いてこの作品に参加下さることを希望しています。今年は12月9日（火）の10時から17時まで、美術館でこの作品に願い 札を下げることができます。是非ご参加ください。オノさんの来館の予定はありませんが、願い札は後日オノさんのもとに送られます。
Wish Tree for Tokyo, first on view in Y E S Yoko Ono spring 2004 at MOT, has been planted in the museum's sculpture garden. The work has been donated by the artist to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo for its permanent collection. Each year on December 9th, Yoko Ono invites the public to come to the museum to write a wish, and hang it on Wish Tree for Tokyo. On December 9th of this year you are invited to come to the museum between 10 and 17 o'clock to participate in this artwork. Please join us!
On December 8th, 1980, John Lennon was murdered by senseless violence. December 8th is still the saddest day of the year for many people in the world for the loss of the great soul. For "Wish Tree for Tokyo", Ono suggests December 9th, the very next day of the anniversary of Lennon's death, to be a day in Japan not only to pray for the souls who passed away, but also to make a wish for the future.
On December 9th, 2008 in Tokyo, it was a cloudy day and sometimes it rained - as if the world has remembered the previous day, December 8th, has been a day of great sadness since 1980 in which many people shed tears. Regardless of the weather, many people visited the museum to participate with "Wish Tree for Tokyo" by dealing with the sadness all together and praying for the future.
At the lobby of the museum, a TV set has been placed. The TV continuously plays the video footage of Ono who was visiting the same institute for her show, "YES YOKO ONO" in the spring, '04. The information which was placed near the TV was also notifying of the event and the location of "Wish Tree for Tokyo".
In the sculpture garden, a tall Japanese maple which was used for "Wish Tree for Tokyo" was showing the beautiful color of crimson red on its leaves while the other trees surrounding it were all in green.
At the same time, many white wish tags were hanging from "Wish Tree for Tokyo", so that, from afar, it looked as if white flowers were blossoming or bearing white fruits on the tree in the middle of the cold winter.
In front of "Wish Tree for Tokyo", a silver plaque had been installed on the ground. On the plaque, Ono's statement written in '05 had been inscribed in both Japanese and English and reads as follows:
Wish Tree for Tokyo
Gift of the Artist
WISH TREE FOR TOKYO
In the tradition of "wishing well," throughout the world,
I suggest December 9th in Japan
As the day to pray for the spirits which passed away.
And make a wish for the future as well.
I think it is a strong day.
It is, and it will be.
y.o. winter 2005
As a self-proclaimed "conceptual artist", Ono presents a concept or idea, above anything else, in her works, as a guidance to a viewer's inner conceptual journey. In other words, Ono seems to use physical materials or objects in her work just as a platform to help the concept or idea she provided come to being or materialize in the audience's mind. In the case of "Wish Tree", as a symbol of growth, Ono provides a regular tree on which the spectators can make their own wishes.
As mentioned above, on December 9th, '08 in Tokyo, the rain fell from time to time. However, since the wish tags for "Wish Tree for Tokyo" were all laminated with plastic, the felt-pen ink you use to write on the paper did not get smudged by rain. Similar to life, our wishes and hopes will live on, rain or shine.
The wish tags collected from "Wish Tree for Tokyo" must already have been sent to Ono. Eventually, all of the wish tags are destined to be collected in the capsules of Ono's columnar light tower to the sky, "IMAGINE PEACE TOWER" in Reykjavik, Iceland. In a way, the light of "the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER", beaming up from the ground to the sky, is a crystal of people's collective wishes and hopes.
"Just like a path on the earth. Originally there is no path on the earth, but when many people pass, a path is formed." from the novel "Homeland" (1921) by Lu Xun
Photographer: Erin Sanchez
Copyrights: Mikihiko Hori