Friday, January 6, 2012

Seemed like a good idea on paper

I'd never really given much thought to postcards before, but in recent weeks I've become more and more enamored. Luc Sante's Folk Photography and John Jakle's Postcards of the Night helped me see the light. Then yesterday at Ampersand I spent a while with Jeff Rosenheim's Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard which contains many interesting groupings from Evans' 9,000 card collection.

The cards feature all sorts of vernacular photos. Those are fun to look at but I find the backs even more interesting. Evans corresponded with a huge range of photographers and he seldom threw anything away. The book contains personal notes to Evans from Frank, Arbus, Friedlander, Winogrand, and many other photographers. The correspondence reads a bit like short emails or Tweets. Most messages aren't complicated, just a few short sentences to say hi and check in (it seems everyone checked in with Evans). But something in the mundane day-to-day nature gives a window into that world that can be elusive in long-form writing.

Postcards from Walker Evans' personal collection

I'm wondering if someone will come along in 30 years and publish the digital ephemera of some famous photographer. The Collected Tweets of Martin Parr or something. I doubt it but who knows.

So anyway, now postcards are nearly a thing of the past. In 1903 the U.S.P.S. handled 700 million cards (about 9 cards per capita). Today few people send personal mail of any type. The Post Office is bleeding money and threatening mass closures.

I want to do my part to help them out. I've made postcards out of some Holga workprints. If you want one email me your address and I'll send you a handwritten card. May the future be on paper...

Addendum 1/8/12: Thanks to everyone who responded. I will get your cards out but it may take several days. Some asked to reciprocate so if you want to send a postcard my address is 85528 Christensen Rd. Eugene, OR 97405.

I've been sent some great links to other postcards. This one is quite amusing. And this project looks great. Below is one from my own collection. I love the passive-aggressive tone.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Talking about an idea! I've taken it up already. Cheers B.
Will have to search my shoe-boxes for something to reciprocate now, good exercise.