The Postcard as Participation Art

Over the last two years, a number of Postcard Collective submissions have requested the receiver’s participation. I often wonder how many people respond, guessing the answer is not many, then feeling guilty if I do not complete the task presented. After talking to a number of people who adamantly do not reply (for lack of time or interest), I decided to take a closer look at a handful of postcards sent that were compelling enough to “answer” and others that were more difficult. This is by no means a survey of all the Participation Art requests mailed since I’ve been involved with the Collective, merely a handful that I would deem a success or failure in generating a reply from me.

Chris Toalson, Fall 2011:

This was a daunting task as there were a great many prompts to consider, many forcing me into the community that I stay away from. I was up for the challenge as I was most interested in what Chris would make in return. In the end, it was time consuming as it required research, taking several months to complete (see my response here). The rewards were high as the object Chris presented was worth every minute I spent working toward its completion.

Anh-Thuy Nguyen, Winter 2013:

The easiest way for me to participate is to send a half finished object (or in this case a partially processed cyanotype) with the simplest request (add water and rinse). The anal retentive me couldn’t have it sitting around the house, gradually growing darker. Within a couple weeks of watching it change, I suddenly couldn’t stand it and documented the final rinse, emailing the results to Anh-Thuy.