I chose to do Yoko Ono’s Wish Piece for a project in my Curatorial
Directions class at the University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada).
We were to choose an instructional work by any of the artists featured
in the Hans Ulrich Obrist “Do It” textbook. This textbook is about the
“Do It” exhibition in which artists provide written instructions that
are to be subjectively understood by participants and then, in turn,
collectively contribute to creating different works of art.
Out of all the interesting artists and works found in the textbook,
Ono’s work captivated me most. I had not heard about Ono’s Wish Tree
before; I felt it was very positive and humanitarian.
We were given about three months to investigate our artists and work on
our final project. As I progressed, I became more enthusiastic, curious,
and altogether nervous about how the Wish Tree was going to turn out.
The project was going to be outdoors for two weeks, from November 17th
to November 30th 2008. It rains a lot in Victoria, particularly during
this time of the year, and I was anxious that the weather would limit
the project’s success. To everyone’s surprise, the weather in fact
contributed to the project. It was sunny all around! (just in case, I
used waterproof Tyvek tags).
Another worry of mine was how people would react to the Wish Tree
given the fact that it was not a piece located in a gallery but rather
outdoors at our University of Victoria campus. The tree chosen for this
project was one found between the Fine Arts, Theatre, and Visual Arts
buildings. I chose this thinking that students from these faculties
would be more inclined to participate however, it was of course open to
From the very first day wishes were tied around the tree.
Through the days, I noticed that it was not only students participating but
also faculty members, student’s relatives and other community members.
To my surprise participation grew strongly as days went by.
It was beautiful to see that although weather changes had removed part of
the tree’s beauty (its leaves), humans through their desire to contribute and
express an intimate and personal wish, brought life back to nature.
Most people know Yoko Ono’s name, however, few know her message.
This project gave me a greater appreciation of her work.
Her pieces are simple yet incredibly meaningful.
I definitely observed a symbiotic relationship between the piece and the
participants in this project.
People contributed in creating a work of art yet also gained a sense of deep
fulfillment when expressing their inner wishes along with those of others.
University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.