'Of all the people with whom I wish I could have corresponded, my first choices would be Marcel Proust and On Kawara – their correspondence says so much about the genesis of their work. The artist suggests timelessness through his precise indications of time and place, while the writer achieves the same effect by consistently omitting to include either. And yet, as one reads their correspondence, one is consistently drawn into the progress of their oeuvre. (…) Had I corresponded with these two, the letters of the one would have brought home to me that true paradises are always lost paradises; the postcards of the other would have told me that real time is time gone by.' ON KAWARA
From 10 May 1968 until 17 September 1979, Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara sent two postcards per day to friends, relatives, collectors and dealers. On the verso of each card, which were collected by On Kawara during his extensive international excursions and pictorially present some of the most iconic global landmarks, the artist stamped the words I GOT UP AT, followed by the time the artist rose from bed each day. The present ensemble, which presents sixty-nine of On Kawara’s postcards, originating from a variety of cities including New York and Munich, dates from the last year of the project, terminated after a suitcase containing hundreds of accumulated cards was stolen. By this point, On Kawara had sent some 4,160 postcards on worldwide travels; they are now held in the collections of private owners and some of the most prestigious international art galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In offsetting a uniform chorus of words with a private daily occurrence, differentiated and dictated by life on the road, On Kawara conceptually captured a dichotomy between the personal and impersonal. Whilst acting as a snapshotted diary of the artist’s travels, the four homogenous words provide an almost mechanical effect of industrial production. After sending the postcards by mail, On Kawara allowed external forces to intercede, such as time, postal proficiency and the availability of the recipient, furthering the division between personal creation and its negation.