Message from Yoko Ono

Trust in the power of human intellect.

The 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a tragedy of the greatest magnitude that must never be repeated. Even now, sixty-six years later, many victims of the violence of atomic weapons are still suffering. Such is the gravity of the destruction wrought by the A-bomb.

And now the tragedy of the atom is unfolding again, this time triggered by the forces of nature in the shape of the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

Yet, I believe that thanks to the remarkable scientific advances of recent years, coupled with the efforts of many, including you, Japan will go on to achieve a full recovery and one day rise again.

And just as the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki overcame the tragedy of the bombings, choosing instead to lead lives of strength and resilience, Japan possesses the intelligence and courage to build a new nation triumphing over an environmental problem unprecedented anywhere on the planet.

This recent tragedy involving atomic power is not just a problem for Japan, but for many nations around the world, particularly the more developed. Thus the time has come for we Japanese to trust in our own resilience to make a new beginning, and at the same time share that strength with the rest of the international community, as, I believe, is our duty.

The strength of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which has enabled them to overcome profound sorrow and suffering thanks to an indomitable spirit and the power of the human mind, offers a ray of hope for the world today.

Humanity’s greatest wisdom lies in its psychic energy, our superpowers, if you like, a brilliant intellectual force that emerges from the depths of our consciousness at times of crisis, and has the power to move mountains purely by hope.

The time is coming for each of us, every member of the human race, to draw on those powers, the greatest strength of our intellect.

In a message from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this is what we must urgently remind the youth of Japan, and all the people of the world, and exercise our mutual capabilities to greatest effect, joining forces to save the planet.

We Japanese, having twice been exposed to the horror of the atom in a way experienced nowhere else, must use the wisdom gained from this painful experience, allowing our spirits to soar even higher and guide the rest of mankind along the path of hope, for the sake of the people and flora and fauna of our planet.

Hoping that my love will help you draw on your own personal superpowers.

Yoko Ono
Summer 2011

The City of Hiroshima has selected Yoko Ono as the winner of the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize

Yoko Ono: The Road Of Hope

Saturday July 30th – Sunday October 16th, 2011

Yoko Ono, an avant-garde artist and the widow of former Beatle John Lennon, has been selected as the recipient of the eighth Hiroshima Art Prize for her contributions to world peace through contemporary art, the municipal government of Hiroshima said Friday.

The 77-year-old New York-based artist is known for actively speaking out for peace, making speeches in support of the abolishment of nuclear weapons when she attended the review conferences of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations in 2005 (‘As A Child Of Asia‘) and 2010.

Ono released a comment through the city, saying, “The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were created by humans by themselves, and the humans also have the wisdom to eliminate their root causes,” in reference to the 1945 atomic bombings of the two Japanese cities in World War II.

The award ceremony will be held next summer in Hiroshima. The city will also hold an exhibition of Ono’s artwork then.

The triennial prize, established in 1989, has been given to artists including Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake and Chinese artist Cai Guoqiang.

Meanwhile, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said at a press conference the same day that the city will continue with its “Obamajority” anti-nuclear weapons campaign, amid controversy over a recent U.S. subcritical nuclear test, the first under President Barack Obama.

“We won’t judge based on just one subcritical nuclear test that (President Obama’s) determination for banning nuclear weapons has disappeared,” Akiba said, but added he has protested to the United States over the test as it violated “the expectations of global citizens.”

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About the Hiroshima Art Prize

Established by the City of Hiroshima in 1989, the Hiroshima Art Prize recognizes the achievements of artists who have contributed to the peace of humanity in the field of contemporary art, and through contemporary art aims to appeal to a wider world and the spread the “Spirit of Hiroshima,” which seeks everlasting world peace. This prize is awarded once every three years.

The 8th Hiroshima Art Prize Commemorative Exhibition

An awards ceremony is scheduled for July 2011 together with an exhibition commemorating the presentation of the award to Yoko Ono at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.

It is greatly anticipated that this commemorative exhibition will help communicate, from Hiroshima to the world, the messages of Yoko Ono that are rich with the inspiration of the abolition of nuclear weapons and the creation of a world without war, and it is thought that the exhibition will have a great effect on garnering attention to this Hiroshima Art Prize across the globe.

About Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono has been active as a creative force for over a half century in various fields as an artist, filmmaker, poet, musician, performance artist and peace activist.

Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo in 1933, and moved to New York in 1953, following her studies in philosophy in Japan. By the late 1950s, she had become part of the city’s vibrant avant-garde activities. In 1960, she opened her Chambers Street loft to a series of radical performance work, and exhibited realisations of some of her early conceptual works there.

In 1961, she had a one-person show at the legendary AG Gallery in New York of her Instruction Paintings, and later that year performed a solo concert at Carnegie Recital Hall of revolutionary works involving movement, sound, and voice.

In 1962, she returned to Tokyo, where she extended her New York performance at the Sogetsu Art Center, and gave her first solo recital-exhibition there.

In 1964 Yoko Ono performed Cut Piece in Kyoto and Tokyo, and published Grapefruit . The end of that year, she returned to New York, and in 1965 and 1966, performed another concert at Carnegie Recital Hall, participated in the Perpetual Fluxus Festival, exhibited The Stone at the Judson Gallery, made the first version of Film No. 4 (Bottoms), as well as doing numerous other events throughout that year and a half.

In the summer of 1966, she was invited to take part in the Destruction in Art Symposium in London, and held one-person exhibitions at the Indica Gallery, and the next year at the Lisson Gallery. During this period, she also performed a number of concerts throughout England.

In 1969, together with John Lennon, she realized Bed-In, and the worldwide War Is Over! (If You Want It) campaign for peace.

Ono has made a number of films, including Fly and Rape, and many records, including Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe, Rising, and most recently, Between My Head and the Sky.

She has had numerous exhibitions in museums, including traveling exhibitions organized by the Museum of Modern Art Oxford and the Japan Society in New York.

In 2009, she exhibited ANTON’S MEMORY at the Bevilacqua Foundation in Venice, and received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice Biennale.

Among numerous recent exhibitions, in 2010, she exhibited I’LL BE BACK at the Studio Stefania Miscetti in Rome, and DAS GIFT at the Haunch of Venison in Berlin. In 2011, she was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize for her dedicated peace activism to the World Peace.

In 2007, she created IMAGINE PEACE TOWER on Videy Island, Iceland, and continues to work tirelessly for peace with her IMAGINE PEACE campaign.

Reasons for awarding the Hiroshima Art Prize

In addition to her activities as an artist, Yoko Ono had been actively involved in pro-peace activities, and after her marriage to John Lennon in 1969, the couple created numerous events supporting world peace and anti-war campaigns. Throughout the 1970’s, their messages of peace spread across the globe and became symbolic representations of the international peace movement.

Even after the death of John Lennon in 1980, Ono continued to communicate her message of “Love and Peace” such as through the creation of a song memorializing the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1995 and presenting a concert to pray for peace in October of that same year in Miyajima.

She also participated in the exhibition entitled After Hiroshima at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing, also held in 1995.

Ono has given speeches appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons and world peace at the United Nations in New York City during review conferences for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty held in 2005 (‘As A Child of Asia‘) and this year (‘Power To The People‘) in response to a request of the Mayors for Peace.

The awarding of the Hiroshima Art Prize to Yoko Ono acknowledges the substantial role her activities have in transmitting the message of the “Spirit of Hiroshima” throughout the entire world.

About the Hiroshima Art Prize


This project aims to honor the achievements of artists and extol the possibilities of contemporary art and expression by awarding the Hiroshima Art Prize to the candidate who best expresses the “Spirit of Hiroshima.” A subsequent solo exhibition of the winner’s work will be held at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, which will increase awareness of both the artist’s work and the mission of the Hiroshima Art Prize and its significance.

Selection criteria

1. An individual or a group actively engaged in art worldwide (two-dimensional, three-dimensional, design, fashion, etc.)
2. An individual or a group engaged in creative activities related to the “Spirit of Hiroshima” or peace, and whose achievements are considered to correspond to the purpose of the Hiroshima Art Prize.
3. An individual or a group whose achievements are considered to be appropriate for exhibition.
4. There are no restrictions on nationality or age.

Selection procedures

The artists recommended by the Hiroshima Art Prize Candidates Recommending Committee, consisting of museum directors and art critics from various countries, are presented to the Hiroshima Art Prize Candidates Selecting Committee, made up of Japanese museum directors and art critics, who then choose the prospective winners. Based on the result of this selection, the Hiroshima Art Prize Organizing Committee makes the final selection of the prize winner. The Hiroshima Art Prize is awarded once every three years.

Past recipients

* The 1st: Issey Miyake (fashion/ Awarded in 1989)
* The 2nd: Robert Rauschenberg (fine art/Awarded in 1992)
* The 3rd: Nancy Spero & Leon Golub (fine art/Awarded in 1995)
* The 4th: Krzysztof Wodiczko (fine art/ Awarded in 1998)
* The 5th: Daniel Libeskind (architecture/ Awarded in 2001)
* The 6th: Shirin Neshat (fine art/ Awarded in 2004)
* The 7th: Cai Guo-Qiang (fine art/ Awarded in 2007)


The 8th Hiroshima Art Prize Commemorative Exhibition

An awards ceremony is scheduled for July 2011 together with an exhibition commemorating the presentation of the award to Yoko Ono at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.

It is greatly anticipated that this commemorative exhibition will help communicate, from Hiroshima to the world, the messages of Yoko Ono that are rich with the inspiration of the abolition of nuclear weapons and the creation of a world without war, and it is thought that the exhibition will have a great effect on garnering attention to this Hiroshima Art Prize across the globe.

Message from the Organisers

As the first place in the world to suffer an atomic bomb attack, the city of Hiroshima has appealed for everlasting peace in many different ways over the years. The Hiroshima Art Prize, which aims to communicate the peace-loving spirit of Hiroshima to the wider world through contemporary art, is awarded every three years to an artist who has contributed significantly to or has a proven record in facilitating global peace and prosperity. On the occasion of this Hiroshima Art Prize we are proud to showcase works by the eighth recipient, Yoko Ono.

In a long and diverse career as an avant-garde practitioner that has seen her move freely between artistic formats as varied as fine art, music, film, performance, and poetry, Ono has inspired people to exercise their imaginative abilities to revolutionize artistic values, and the values of the world. Ideas thus armed with formidable imagination are what underpin the practice of this artist who has been a consistent champion of love and peace.

Now confronted with the reality of an invisible atomic menace, we have learned that when it comes to nuclear threats, the failure of imagination can only lead to repeated tragedy. This exhibition, dubbed “The Road of Hope” by Yoko Ono, prompts us to contemplate afresh Hiroshima and Nagasaki – names etched on our souls as symbolizing the tragedy of the atomic bomb, and at the same time sends a powerful message pointing the way to resurrection, courtesy of Hiroshima, a city risen from ruins to recovery.

Allow us to express our deepest gratitude and respect for the efforts of Yoko Ono, who for the purpose of this show, and for the future of we Japanese living in these troubled times, has applied herself with the profoundest understanding and dedication. We are also grateful for the tireless assistance of the staff in the United state and Japan who made “The Road of Hope” possible, plus all those who collaborated to bring this eighth Hiroshima Art Prize show to you.

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
Asahi Shimbun

Message from the Mayor of The City of Hiroshima


On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was completely destroyed by the first atomic bombing in history, and many precious lives were lost. To prevent this inhumane tragedy from ever happening again, the City of Hiroshima has been working to communicate the A-bomb survivors’ pain and suffering and to instill people around the world with the strong desire for nuclear weapons abolition.

As part of this initiative, we established the Hiroshima Art Prize in 1989 to convey the Spirit of Hiroshima or the wish for peace to the world through contemporary art. Our city awards the prize once every three years to artists who have made great contributions to peace and humanity, and holds an exhibition of their works in Hiroshima to celebrate their accomplishments.

Yoko Ono, the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize recipient, has been active as an artist, filmmaker, poet, musician, and performance artist for more than five decades. Her Instruction Paintings series in the 1960s became a pioneering work of contemporary art and since then, Ono has continued to find new ways to express herself using all kinds of media.

Ono has been a prominent peace activist as well, continuously working to spread her message of love and peace and speaking out for the abolition of nuclear weapons at events such as the Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Her art and activism fully conveys the Spirit of Hiroshima, and we are truly honored to have her as the 8th Art Prize recipient.

I sincerely hope that through this exhibition, Ono’s message for peace from Hiroshima will inspire even more people around the world. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Yoko Ono and the Hiroshima Art Prize committee, and to everyone whose hard work and cooperation made this exhibition possible.

Kazumi Matsui
Mayor, the City of Hiroshima
July, 2011

Message from the Organising Committee

The 8th Hiroshima Art Prize has been awarded to Yoko Ono, an artist who is based in New York and active throughout the world, and on this occasion, it is with great pleasure that we present an exhibition devoted to her outstanding achievements.

The Hiroshima Art Prize is an international award that was established in 1989 through the joint efforts of the City of Hiroshima and the Asahi Shimbun. While “recognizing the achievements of artists who have made a significant contribution to peace for humanity in the field of art and striving to enhance art in Hiroshima,” the prize is intended to convey the “Spirit of Hiroshima” to the entire world and “foster the prosperity of the human race.” In other words, while making the world aware of Hiroshima’s plea for eternal peace as the first city to have suffered an atomic bombing, the prize aims to promote greater understanding between people and development in the arts by recognizing an outstanding artist for their creative activities, and presenting their achievements in a commemorative exhibition. Conferred once every three years, six individuals and one group have been honored with the award in the past, beginning with Issey Miyake, and followed by Robert Rauschenberg, Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Daniel Libeskind, Shirin Neshat, and Cai Guo-Qiang.

A three-stage procedure is used to select a recipient. first, a committee made up of museum directors and art critics from around the world, and a special advisory committee consisting of past recipients are asked to recommend an appropriate artist. Next, a selection committee of Japanese museum directors and art critics narrows down the list of candidates. finally, an organizing committee of art specialists and other
experts chooses the winning recipient. In this instance, Yoko Ono was ultimately selected from three candidates suggested by the selection committee following careful thought and discussion among the members of the organizing committee.

Working in a wide range of fields, including painting, sculpture, music, poetic expression, video, film, installation, and performance, Yoko Ono has consistently challenged the world with new forms of expression, with pointed objections to existing values among them, and remains vigorously active in various creative pursuits. Born into the family of an influential Tokyo banker, Ono grew up in Japan and the U.S. In addition to receiving a thorough home education, she entered the Department of Philosophy at Gakushuin University, and after first being strongly influenced by Marxism and Existentialism, came into contact with D.T. Suzuki’s Zen teaching in New York, a combination which resulted a profound way of thinking that encompasses a strongly critical view of reality as the essence of society and human existence.

With this philosophical background, Ono’s creative practice displayed an extremely new and avant-garde aspect even in terms of her means of expression. Instead of simply displaying a completed work, one of Ono’s prime innovations was to assert that viewer participation, through action and thought, be a requisite condition for the realization of a work. Her early piece, Instruction Painting , for example, was only completed when the viewer performed the set of actions that were specified in the painting. In Cut Piece , a performance work in which she used her own body as a material, Ono, clad in expensive garments, sat on a stage with her legs folded and put the scissors down next to her. She asked members of the audience to cut off pieces of her clothing. In this way, the viewer, unable to remain a passive observer, became party to and conspirator in a symbolic act of violence, demanding that they confront the essence of human existence, seething with pathos, desire, and destructive impulses, head-on.

By forcing the viewer to become involved, and issuing a wide-ranging appeal for deeper insight into people and society, Yoko Ono’s peerless concepts were also in strong evidence in the peace activities she pursued with John Lennon. These included Bed-In for Peace , a series of urgent appeals for peace through nonviolence that made use of the mass media, and huge advertisements reading, War Is Over! at the end of the 1960s, an era in which the war in Vietnam was continuing to escalate, and a storm of large-scale student protests was raging across the U.S., Europe, and Japan. It was at this point that Ono’s superb creativity was unified with her strong desire for peace in the world.

Even after Lennon was tragically struck down by an assassin’s bullet, the passion that Ono has brought to the peace movement has remained steadfast. At the same time, she has continued to produce highly creative work, such as Wish Tree and Ex It , containing a plea for rebirth that transcends human life, death, and tragedy. Yoko Ono is a great artist whose her contribution to peace for humanity through art is truly deserving of the Hiroshima Art Prize.

Shuji Takashina
Director, Ohara Museum of Art
Chairperson, the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize Organizing Committee

YOKO ONO: The Road Of Hope

The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima MOCA)
1-1 Hijiyama Koen, Minami-Ku,
Hiroshima, 732-0815 JAPAN
Tel: +81 (0)82 264 1121
Fax: +81 (0)82 264 1198
[email protected]

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