The Postcard is a Public Work of Art

How many Christmas cards have reached your mail box during the holidays? And how many postcards have you received during the last year? I am sure there haven’t been many. Mailing postcards, letters and greeting cards appears to have become an obsolete art form, forever replaced by elusive emails, short text messages or even worse, meaningless Facebook posts. Yet, it all makes those small, usually incredibly kitsch postcards even more irresistible, charging them with that special charm that only objects belonging to the past might have. Maybe it is precisely the search for these feelings that guided the creation of an upcoming exhibition at the London space X Marks the Bökship.

Borrowing the title The Postcard is a Public Work of Art from a 1996 postcard designed by Simon Cutts and printed by David Bellingham at his Glasgow imprint WAX366, this exhibition collects works by sixty artists and designers based in Britain. Most of the postcards were created exclusively for the exhibition by the artists included in the show, among which have found some of our usual favourites, like Åbäke, David Bellingham, Simon Cutts, Daniel Eatock, Ryan Gander, Sara MacKillop and Jonathan Monk. The purpose of an artist’s postcard, in this context, was to express an idea, aesthetic and intellectual, specifically and exclusively in the form of a postcard, that could be actually postable, even when made of wood, bone, or steel. The exhibits are not merely postcard-sized paintings, but instead they engage individually with the form and purpose of the postcard.

For this reason, even the catalogue itself, produced by X Marks the Bökship – an established spot for those passionate about independent publishing – was designed as a boxed-postcard catalogue, drawn from Hans Ulrich Obrist‘s breakaway catalogues Hotel Carlton Palace: Chambre 763 in Paris in 1993 and Take Me (I’m Yours) at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995, themselves based upon Lucy Lippard‘s work developed in the 1970s. Hence, it can easily be stated that The Postcard is a Public Work of Art is an utterly nostalgic exhibition, longing for our beautiful customs of the past. The exhibition will run from January 23rd to March 1st 2014 at X Marks the Bökship, in London.

Rujana Rebernjak