In my last post I discussed the variability of language within visual arts. I said I would have a follow-up post, and lucky for you I am a woman of her word. Recently I made a stop at the National Postal Museum to do some sight-seeing (what a tourist I am!), and I took a prolonged pause at one of their exhibitions. “PostSecret: The Power of a Postcard” is an exhibit that features mail art from PostSecret, an ongoing project that encourages people to submit postcards with anonymous confessions that they have produced or altered. When you walk into the exhibit, a range of color, mood, and expression of five hundred plus postcards representing five hundred plus people is chaotically organized, all in stacks, rows, and suspended for optimal viewing.
I took time to ruminate. I looked at one postcard. I paused. I evaluated. It’s easy to look at an image and dismiss it; it’s easy to not process or identify with it. When you take an image and align it with a private thought, everything about it takes on a new life. In this case, every time I looked at a postcard it necessitated a few seconds of reconciliation. The hundreds of submissions curated were only a taste of the world’s ensconced thoughts. I found myself treating every card like its own person, mulling over it with concentration and deference.
In that half hour I spent at the exhibition, I never once felt a lack of empathy or fascination. Each card was as authentic as the last, all so individualistic. At the same time, through all their differences, their humors and desperations, embarrassments and nonchalance, their unique outlooks sent an overarching and unifying message: I need to be heard.
If you’re in the area, I suggest you take a look in your spare time. If not, I’ll let the postcards do the talking.
Photos: Krista Alba