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Yoko Ono's "Imagine Peace" Campaign

Link to article on Iceland



Press Release




Artist Yoko Ono will present a series of installations and audience participation works around Washington, D.C., as part of Street Scenes: Project for DC, a public art program curated by Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra.


Ms. Ono will exhibit ten trees around the city, as part of her ongoing Wish Tree project, which she began in the 1990s as a way of encouraging the public to become participants in the art process. The trees will be installed at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, at THEARC in Anacostia, and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall


“As a child in Japan, I used to go to a temple and write out a wish on a piece of thin paper and tie it around the branch of a tree,” Ms. Ono said. “Trees in temple courtyards were always filled with people’s wish knots, which looked like white flowers blossoming from afar.”


With her Wish Trees, which are part of a city-wide project called IMAGINE PEACE, Ms. Ono is invoking the intention of the initial 1912 gift of cherry blossom trees to the United States from the nation of Japan, and she asks that we contemplate all aspects that the words inspire. Ms. Ono invites people to write a wish (either a personal or a global-minded one) and tie it onto a Wish Tree. At the end of the installation, the Washington, DC, wishes will be collected and added to the other wishes generated by the Wish Tree projects she has mounted around the world and become part of her Imagine Peace Tower, which will be inaugurated in October 2007 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Following the Street Scenes installation, the trees from the Tidal Basin and the trees at THEARC will be planted in the Anacostia community. The Wish Tree installation at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will become a permanent artwork, gifted to the museum by the artist.


In addition, Ms. Ono will visit the site at the Japanese Lantern Lawn, just west of the Kutz Bridge at Independence Avenue & 17th Street. SW, on the other side of the Tidal Basin, where the first cherry blossoms were planted in 1912. The artist will ask participants to "whisper a wish to the bark of the trees."


Ms. Ono will also present text pieces, including disseminating IMAGINE PEACE posters, and ribbons that read, “this line is a part of a very large circle.” These artworks will be free to the public and will be distributed at three locations: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, THEARC and Provisions Library.


An IMAGINE PEACE billboard will be installed on the Verizon Center (at the intersection of 7th Street and G Street, NW) and will be on display through April 30. A poster page will be placed in the March 29 edition of The Washington Post Express (circulation almost 200,000), in the hopes that they will wind up hanging in offices and homes around the city and surrounding areas.


“This project,” say Street Scenes co-curators Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra, “is part of our effort to turn the streets of Washington, DC, into a living art gallery. Ms. Ono's work celebrates the universal longing for peace: whether it is individual peace of mind, peace for a local community, or a more global aspiration. By installing components throughout the city, the project seeks to unite the varying neighborhoods of Washington and their residents and workers in the desire for progress and understanding--in matters large and small, at home and abroad."


IMAGINE PEACE is the third installation of Street Scenes: Projects for DC. The overarching concept of Yoko Ono’s project parallels the working philosophy of Street Scenes: Projects for DC: art and the ideas it generates can unify a city and all of its neighborhoods by creating an experience shared by those who are art aficionados and those who are not.


Street Scenes: Projects for DC was created in the spring of 2006 and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Maria and Bill Bell, Stuart Mott Charitable Trust, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Downtown BID, Bussolati and Associates, Americans for the Arts, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barbara and Aaron Levine and several generous individuals.



Washington Post

April 4, 2007


Yoko Ono (widow of Beatles singer John Lennon) wants Washington to give peace a chance


Tourists wandering by the Jefferson Memorial on Monday morning got a bit of a celebrity surprise, as Yoko Ono stopped by as part of her interactive Wish Tree art project.


“Hello, this is Yoko,” she said as she took the stage in front of the Tidal Basin, adding that the “cherry blossoms are even more beautiful than I ever heard about.”


Wearing black and a white pageboy cap with sunglasses, Ono asked everyone present to fill out a tag with a wish and tie it to one of six potted cherry tree saplings (not the actual cherry trees — touching them is illegal).


But first, she showed them how it was done. Her wish: “The cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., will always bring beauty and peace to this city. So be it. 4-02-07.”


In addition to the throng of Japanese media, we even spotted a couple of Beatles enthusiasts in the crowd — one in a Beatlemania T-shirt and another in a Ringo T-shirt. Apparently, they’re not among the segment of fans who blame her for breaking up the band.


The installation is part of Ono’s citywide “Imagine Peace” project, which also includes a large billboard outside the Verizon Center.


“We’re going around the world trying to get the message of ‘imagine peace’ around the world,” she said.


After the Tidal Basin event, Ono traveled to THEARC cultural center in Anacostia, where three more Wish Trees were set up. All nine trees from the Tidal Basin and Anacostia will be permanently planted at THEARC. A 10th tree will be planted at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.


But what of the wishes themselves? Fear not, she said. They will not be destroyed, but rather will go to the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, where they’ll be kept for a “couple of centuries.”


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Taken on April 13, 2007