Events > Book Launch

20 Mar. 2010

Book launch for Chrysanne Stathacos's The Wish Machine Travels

Chrysanne Stathacos
1 pm - 3 pm

Please join us on the afternoon of Saturday March 20, to launch The Wish Machine Travels 1995-2009, a new artist’s book by Chrysanne Stathacos , published by Wish Machine, N.Y.C. and Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt am Main.

The book is the culmination of the artist’s travels with The Wish Machine Project, and includes 69 color plates of Stathacos’ public art projects, installations, and photography together with Christopher Isherwood’s seminal short story, The Wishing Tree (1944), and texts by Marcus Boon, AA Bronson, Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick, Amy Lipton, Peter Nagy and Heike Strelow.

Chrysanne Stathacos has integrated an artistic practice with a spiritual practice for the past two decades. Her public art project The Wish Machine fuses anonymous desires with ritual commodification, using wit and irony. This book documents Chrysanne’s travels around the world, what she has found along the way, and what she has produced for art spaces between her travels. The uninitiated may find it difficult to discern the difference between what the artist has found and what she has created without referring to the guide provided at the back of the book. This confusion is precisely the point. Chrysanne’s project provides an index of icons and themes that are common throughout human culture, focusing on points where the ephemeral and spiritual are manifested in the material and performative.

- From the Introduction by Peter Nagy, Milan 2009

The Wish Machine was originally commissioned by Creative Time in 1997 for Grand Central Station, New York City. An interactive artwork in the form of a re-fabricated vending machine wrapped in a photomural of a wishing tree from India, The Wish Machine dispenses “wishes”, multiples consisting of printed photo-collages of plants and a small vial of that plant’s essential oil. Timed to coincide with Day With (out) Art, a website of The Wish Machine collected thousands of anonymous oral and written wishes from around the world, including wishes from refugee children calling for peace and compassion. The collected wishes were compiled into the publication, 1000+ Wishes, (1999) to coincide with a four-month venue at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto. Since its inception in 1997 over 50,000 people have interacted with The Wish Machine on four continents at train stations, museums, galleries and diverse public spaces. In 2008, The Wish Machine Project was presented at 48°C Public.Art.Ecology, the first public art festival in New Delhi, India. This marked a return full circle fourteen years later to the city and one tree that inspired The Wish Machine.

Chrysanne Stathacos is a multi-media artist and educator whose work has been exhibited extensively in museums, galleries, sculpture gardens, train stations, and public spaces internationally for twenty-five years. She was born in Buffalo, New York in 1951 and studied fine arts at the Cleveland Institute of Art (1969-1970); at York University, Toronto (1970-1973); and at the Open Studio, Toronto (1975-1976). Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s Stathacos was active in the Toronto artist-run community, curating projects for A-Space, and co-directing The Gap, a performance art space she co-founded in 1980 with Martin Heath, Colin Lochhead, Elke Town, and David Buchan (1950-1994). In the late 1970s Stathacos became associated with the art collective General Idea, eventually becoming close friends with the group’s founders, AA Bronson (b. 1946), Felix Partz (1945-1994), and Jorge Zontal (1944-1994). Stathacos moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1981 and after two years there relocated to Manhattan, where she co-curated The Abortion Project with Kathe Burkhart (b. 1958) at Artists’ Space and the Simon Watson Gallery, New York in 1991 and the following year collaborated with Hunter Reynolds, aka Patina du Prey (b. 1959), on a performance piece entitled The Banquet at the Thread Waxing Space. Other major works by Stathacos include 1-900, Mirror Mirror (1994), a performance piece; The Wish Machine (1995), her first interactive public art work; The Aura Project (1999-2006); Refuge, a Wish Garden (2002); and The Roses (2006). Noteworthy collaborations in which Stathacos participated include Green Machine (1994), with composer Ben Neill (b. 1957); and One Night, One Garden One Wish (2006), with sound artist Andrew Zealley (b. 1956). Stathacos has received awards from Art Matters (1995), the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation (1998), the Japan Foundation (2001), and the Puffin Foundation (2005). She is represented in numerous public collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; the Art Gallery of Hamilton; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.