Yoko Ono is recognized worldwide as one of the most important artists of the post-war art world. Her unconventional practice, spanning a range of fields as diverse as art, music, performance and video, has influenced many artists, not least of which was John Lennon.
In Towada, Ono exhibits one of her classic works, Wish Tree, a prayer for peace first presented in 1996, and executed since in locations around the world. Wish Tree is a participatory work in which visitors write their wishes on white strips of paper and tie them onto a tree. An apple tree was chosen for Towada, both because the apple has long been an important motif for the artist, and because apples are a popular product of the Aomori region. The accumulated paper strips are delivered to Ono once a year, and then preserved in Imagine Peace Tower, a monument for world peace built in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Here Ono pairs Wish Tree with the cobblestone river piece Riverbed, and Bell of Peace, a functioning temple bell donated by the Daikakuji temple, bringing into play the entire courtyard. Each of these works is very specific to the Towada area, and made more profound by being exhibited together in this manner.
Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo in 1933, and moved to New York City in 1953, following her studies in philosophy in Japan. By the late 1950s, she had become part of New York City’s vibrant avant-garde activities. In 1964, Ono performed Cut Piece in Kyoto and Tokyo, and published Grapefruit, a book of her collected conceptual instruction pieces. In 1969, together with John Lennon, she realized Bed-In, and the worldwide War Is Over (if you want it) campaign for peace. Yoko Ono has exhibited her work throughout the world, including major touring exhibitions, biennales and triennales. In 2009, she received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice Biennale.