Suspension of Disbelief. In ‘The Cherry Blossom Centennial Festival’, Washington DC
Tina O’Connell & Office of Experiments
Commissioned by the Washington DC Arts and Humanities Commission for the Centenary Celebrations of the Cherry Blossom Festival. This project was developed by Tina O’Connell with the Office of Experiments. The project was selected as part of curator Steve Rowell proposal called ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ which also included the work of Lize Mogel (USA), Kunstrepublik (DE), Charles Stankievich (CA) and Deborah Stratman & Steve Badgett (USA). With thanks to Transformer Gallery and staff, and local coordinator Akemi Magaewa.
Most moving of all, however, is Office of Experiment’s 1×1 comprised of 1,000 small vials of “tears,” water collected in Japan after the earthquake. Visitors are encouraged to pour the water on a cherry tree bringing about a symbolic rebirth. This act also reflects what Tokyo’s mayor hoped to do a century ago: promote an international exchange between the two continents encouraging new life and friendships to blossom. As evidenced this weekend, the vibrant 5×5 project is the start of a new era of tradition.
Interview Magazine, April 2012.
Installation at Transformer Gallery P District, Washington DC
Transformer Gallery acted as the central hub for the 1×1 project. Water, brought into the USA in small flasks from Japan was decanted into 1000 small vials and arranged in a specially constructed crate, displayed in the gallery window. Introduced to the concept of the vials contaning what might be termed ‘tears’, the visitors to the gallery were given further information on the disaster, and were allowed to take away one vial. They were asked to place a tear onto a Cherry Tree and could, if they liked, email an image which would be added to the project website. In reality, it was discovered that for many people, the act became a private moment and memorial of emotional significance.
Website and Interventions
The website of the 1×1 project documented a further spatio-temporal intervention. Having established the locations of a number of sites with either direct or indirect link to the earthquake and disaster in Japan: Japanese Cultural Center, Japanese Memorial gardens (WWII), Nuclear Saftey Department and Nuclear Energy lobbying groups, Global Media and Disaster Management Centers, photographs were taken of these with an unfurled image familiar to many from newspaper and media reports. This image, acquired from Reuters, had been circulated widely across global media networks and featured a large ship marooned atop a harbour building at one of the devasted sites in Otsuchi. Documentation of the sites were posted along with further information on the image and its location on the project website.