Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace Tower:
Lighting up the Night
On 9 October 2007, it was not the Aurora Borealis that illuminated the sky over Iceland, but rather a vertical column of light emanating from the ground as a beacon of peace. The Imagine Peace Tower, designed by Yoko Ono, has been dedicated to the memory of John Lennon on what would have been his 67th birthday. Installed permanently on Viđey Island, a short ferry’s ride from Reykjavík, the tower will from now on be lit every year between 9 October and 8 December, Lennon’s birthday and the day of his death, respectively. It will also light the sky on New Year’s Eve, the first week of spring, and other selected occasions. The electricity is supplied by Reykjavík Energy, which produces electricity by geothermal power.
Originally conceived as a conceptual artwork entitled Light House in 1965, the Imagine Peace Tower has been realized according to Ono’s specifications as a collaboration between the artist, the City of Reykjavík, The Reykjavík Art Museum, and Reykjavík Energy. The tower emerges from a platform faced by a mosaic of three types of Icelandic stone, upon which sits a “Wishing Well,” two meters high and four meters in diameter. Though the beam of light appears to have one source, it in fact utilizes six searchlights around the platform whose lights are projected horizontally toward the center and are reflected skyward by angled mirrors within the well, creating the appearance of a single “tower” of light. White glass on the surface of the Wishing Well is inscribed with the words “Imagine Peace” in 24 languages.
While the weather and atmospheric conditions around Viđey affect moment by moment the intensity and quality of the light in the artwork, Yoko Ono’s wish for peace as expressed in the Imagine Peace Tower will remain unaltered.
Shauna Laurel Jones
LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 15 January 2008. Texts and images copyright © 2008 by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.