Hirshhorn presents Yoko Ono's "Wish Tree for Washington, DC" in a virtual activation on Instagram

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Hirshhorn presents Yoko Ono's "Wish Tree for Washington, DC" in a virtual activation on Instagram
Yoko Ono, “Wish Tree for Washington, DC,” 2007. Installed at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Photo by Jazmine Johnson.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, with permission from artist Yoko Ono, awakened her transformational artwork, “Wish Tree for Washington, DC” (2007, live tree and mixed media) for virtual visitors, April 15–31. In acknowledgement of the global pandemic and social distancing, “Wish Tree for Washington, DC” is being presented on Instagram when virtual visitors post tagged wishes.

Inspired by Ono’s interactive artwork in the museum’s Sculpture Garden, people are invited to write their wish on a piece of paper, take a photograph of the handwritten wish and post it on Instagram tagging @hirshhorn, #WishTreeDC and #YokoOno. The Hirshhorn will display the virtual wishes from Instagram on its website throughout the two-week activation.

“Wish Tree for Washington, DC” was acquired by the Hirshhorn and installed in its Sculpture Garden in April 2007 as a gift from the artist. Each summer through Labor Day, visitors to the Sculpture Garden are invited to write a wish on a tag and tie it to the living dogwood tree’s branches. The tree ‘blooms’ with an assembly of the hopes and ambitions of global visitors. In cooler months, visitors are encouraged to whisper their wishes to the artwork’s branches. The Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden is currently open, and “Wish Tree for Washington, DC” will receive wishes virtually (and whispered) throughout April. Between April 15 and 30, museum staff will transfer as many virtual wishes as possible to paper tags and share updates on the Hirshhorn’s website and Instagram channel, @hirshhorn.

In accordance with the artist’s vision, the Hirshhorn will harvest all wishes and share them with her. The wishes will be buried at the base of “Imagine Peace Tower,” Ono’s installation on Videy Island near Reykjavík, Iceland, dedicated to the memory of her late husband, John Lennon. For approximately three decades, Ono’s global “Wish Tree” project has inspired more than 1 million wishes, including over 100,000 from the Hirshhorn.

“We are honored to partner with Yoko Ono to share her timeless message of peace,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “The past year has challenged the Hirshhorn to translate the power of artworks including ‘Wish Tree for Washington, DC’ for online audiences. Our virtual exhibitions and artist talks have reached a global audience of more than 200,000 people in all 50 states and six continents. We’ll continue to invite global audiences to connect through modern art in meaningful ways until we can be together in person once again.”

The Hirshhorn will aggregate all the virtual wishes on a webpage that will also share an online tutorial aimed at children and caregivers making a ‘Wish Tree’ of their own at home.

Ono (American, born Tokyo, 1933) has been a prolific artist and notable figure in the art world since the 1960s. Throughout her career, she has created innovative forms of music, performance, poetry, experimental film and visual art. Her works are primarily intended to be transformative and experimental in nature and require participants to be realized. The “Wish Tree” series, begun in 1996, continues in this interactive tradition.

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