Postcards (2014)

Mixed-media, postage markings on paper 

In November 2014, Julia Rooney and I began a postcard project, mailing handmade cards between the United States and Palestine. We set up some restraints, but ultimately wished the correspondence to unfold organically. Of our few rules, the most essential was that the cards would not be sealed-- the image and/or text would be entirely exposed to whomever handled it. Between us, there would be little discussion about each card's content, and no set agenda for creating it. The send date and arrival date of each card would simply be communicated through email. The size of each card would remain constant: Julia chose 6 1/8 x 8 inches and I chose 6 x 8.25 inches. While we could send the cards from any location within their respective countries, the receiving addresses were to remain the same. These basic rules were away to maintain some form of "constant" amidst the many other variables that would likely come in the physical process of mailing.

As of April 2015, Julia and I have mailed 8 postcards. Only 2 have arrived: one in New York, the other in Ramallah. It took both cards a month-and-a half from their send-off dates to arrive on the other side.

This time lapse is at the project's core. It is a form of excessively staggered conversation. By the time one postcard has arrived, another one has already been sent. The span of time for one complete exchange to occur is about 3 months. This lag becomes a form of "not knowing" in an age where the desire "to know" dominates. Where did the card go, where did it stop, why did it take so long to arrive, and who saw it along the way? There is even the question of will it get there at all? Unlike digital interfaces which allow communication to be fast, traceable, and nearly certain, these physical mailings are unproductively slow and questionably reliable. In their weeks of transit we know little of where they are at any given time. Noris there an adequate response to a card received weeks after the fact. Still, in the midst of these unknowns, the project aims to establish something concrete about place and physicality. The cards are going to real sites. This non-verbal act of exchange is perhaps simple. And yet, it establishes one's rootedness, one's home, one's sense of place and belonging in this given time. The gesture of sending and receiving physical cards is a form of seeing and celebrating one's physical place. As of April 2015, the exchanges are ongoing: we are still waiting to receive, and are still sending in this period of waiting.

Presented at Open Engagement, Pittsburgh 2015, published in Here, Without, edited by Ethan Pierce, BBP Publications.

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