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Wish You Were Here // Participative Group Walk & Installation

/Title of Work/ "Wish You Were Here"
/Medium/ Participative Group Walk & Installation
/Dimensions/ variable (multiple 4" x 6" postcards in installation)
/Date/ May 2004

See pictures of the walks, gallery installation, and postcards.

"Wish You Were Here" is an exploration of well-known tourist locations in New York City, and the narratives that are constructed about them by souvenir postcards.

Souvenir tourist postcards are a medium that creates narratives, and affixes memories. People buy souvenir postcards to remember a place they have visited, or to tell others of a place they have visited. These postcards often create some sort of perfected vision of a place. Mainstream souvenir postcards often depict a cleaner, prettier, more generic vision of a place than actual experience indicates. These postcards seem to show places devoid of people, or feature idealized depictions of a smiling nuclear family. These visions serve to construct a narrative of perfection, beauty, a homogenized and Disneyfied experience of a place.

"Wish You Were Here" participants visit a traditionally tourist-oriented spot, experience the place through the activity of a walk, and create an alternate viewpoint by making their own postcards. The participants construct an alternative narrative to a "popular" or supposedly "known" place like Times Square, Grand Central Station, or Chinatown. The project engages the participants to step beyond the commonly accepted/constructed narrative of a place, to create a (perhaps) more authentic one, or at least a more personal narrative. The project challenges both New York residents and out-of-town visitors to experience a tourist destination in a manner different from the norm.

Each group receives a postcard-construction kit. The postcard kits included various custom blank postcards, several commercially produced postcards of the destination, a small mini-Polaroid camera and film, markers, tape, glue, and instructions for creating each postcard.

Each group also received a set of directions for getting to their location, and where to begin their walk through the area. The walk is a simple, basic algorithm. One step in the algorithm is to stop, select a postcard activity from the kit, and complete that postcard per the instructions.

In this way the group walks through the area, constructing an alternative narrative about that place, documented in postcards. Each group's postcards were added to the installation at Participant, Inc., as part of the 2004 Psy.Geo.Conflux.

Exhibition History:

May 13 - May 16, 2004 - Group Show - Psy.Geo.Conflux 2004 @ Participant Inc. Gallery, New York City, NY