Yes, it’s very, very cold today. But that did not stop Yoko Ono from launching a new art project in support of Occupy Wall Street. Well, actually the avant-garde artist is India right now. But it’s the thought that counts!
On this particularly chilly afternoon, Runnin’ Scared caught up with the resilient, bundled-up Occupiers who were spreading the word about the latest incarnation of Ono’s ongoing “Wish Tree” project, crafted specifically for Zuccotti Park.
Ono made her first “Wish Tree” in 1981 after John Lennon died. The project is pretty conceptual — folks tying pieces of paper with wishes to trees — but given the limitations at the park, this version of the project is really conceptual.
Apparently tying things to trees and putting stuff in trees at Zuccotti is just not allowed. Let’s give you a snapshot of today’s “mic-check’ spreading the word about “Wish Tree for Zuccotti Park,” since their words probably can explain it better than Runnin’ Scared can (In standard OWS mic-check fashion, Chris Cobb, an OWS member who was involved in the project, shouted this, pausing every five or so words to give the dozens in the crowd a chance repeat it back): “[Yoko Ono’s] idea had to be altered when they raided the park. Originally, she has a project called Wish Tree, where people would place wishes in trees on little pieces of paper. But we can’t do that here. So instead she decided to make postcards. She made an edition of 10,000, and we have some of them here. The idea is that the art is in giving it as a gift. And the exchange between people is part of the conceptual art. So we have 10,000, and we’d like to give them out to everybody at OWS.”
The postcards, in Ono’s handwriting, read: “Wish Tree for Zuccotti Park. / Make a wish. / Ask the tre to send your wishes / to all the trees in the world. / For Truth, Justice and Peace.”
So it’s kinda like poetry.
“She said she wanted to make into an artwork that’s given away,” Cobb, who is part of the arts group at OWS, explained to Runnin’ Scared. “The thing the card would do is provoke discussion. That’s what OWS is all about…It’s hard to say what people are going to do with them.” People will hopefully make connections with each other through passing out the cards, he said.
Jon Hendricks, 72, who has written about the Fluxus art movement, was the liaison between Ono and the OWS members behind the project, and showed up to Zuccotti today to support. “It’s about peace and justice…Hopefully a small gesture can spread the word,” he said, adding, “It’s conceptual.”
Mariette Papic, 39, of Bushwick, who grabbed a postcard, told Runnin’ Scared she thought it was a pretty neat project, though, added that’d she’d like to see Ono offer some in-person support. “I really appreciate Yoko Ono’s continued quest for peace and creativity. I hope it continues to encourage people into dialogue.” Still, she said, “I hope Yoko Ono pays us a visit…This park is [her] park, too…The bigger impact will come when she comes.”
Marsha Spencer, 56, and the lovable OWS knitter and grandmother of five, was all smiles when she took a pile of cards: “I love it. I’ve been a peacemonger since the 1960s. Trees are very peaceful. They don’t harm anyone — unless they fall down.”
“I like the message, it’s spreading peace through peaceful actions. That’s how Occupy Wall Street started,” she said. A very light snow fell and a few musicians played, you guessed it, “Imagine.”
In a quick change in tone, in an unrelated OWS Saturday activity, another group of protesters, staged a “die-in” about 15 minutes after Ono’s project was presented. Yeah, it’s like a sit-in, but with death. Dozens of protestors lied on the ground of the now barricade-less park to protest restrictions stopping them from sleeping in the park.
“On the count of five, I invite you all to die on the spot,” shouted the man in charge.
And then folks, you know, died (though some died with cameras in their hand to capture the moment). Art, peace, and death — too much for us to handle in one hour, really.