Sunday, December 11, 2011

Postcards In & From a Laundromat

A buddy popped me an email: I saw you on a postcard at the Lucky Laundromat, which is on Jersey Ave. Not something you hear every day, that’s for sure.
Indeed, there is a postcard stand in the Laundromat, something else that is uncommon. While they can be mailed, the cards don’t say Greetings from Downtown J.C. The postcards and stand are the latest manifestation of an art project that I blogged about in September, see here.

I was interviewed, one of dozens by KarinaAguilera Skvirsky for her Laundromat Project, Ask Me: Tell Me. Apparently there’s a video she’s editing of the compiled interviews. She asked how the neighborhood and city has changed. She is interested in community and history, and the contention is that Laundromats are a place that remains as economies and developments rise and fall and populations move in and out. From her website: “My work combines a commitment or interest in aesthetics with an engagement with politics and history. I am interested in low-tech art making strategies that involve the public in the production of my work in order to engage the community about their own histories and memories and to introduce or re-introduce the idea of art making and its value into their lives.”
I suppose the postcards are just one manifestation of the project, which is one of the most original in Jersey City. Postcards are certainly low-tech enough. Turning such an incidental yet widely recognizable item into art has a multi-level effect. From vacation greeting into social commentary art makes the everyday more apparent. Postcard stands in a Laundromat, immediately the context changes for the postcard, thus elevating into a higher aesthetic realm.
Why would postcards be in a Laundromat? Why would art be there?
One goes there to complete a chore; clothes get dirty, need to be cleaned. It’s a universal. Why shouldn’t art be part of this ordinary part of everyone’s life? And, why shouldn’t that art somehow comment on your immediate surroundings? If art becomes associated with this menial task, the task takes on more meaning, then one also must assume, does the art.
I also love the fact the postcard stands are referred to on the project blog as an art installation.
Anyway, I’ve never been on a postcard before. Sort of startling. The light in the Laundromat is so unflattering, but still. I could mail mine out. I may not be on vacation but I’m still thinking of you. But looking through the postcards was a fascinating experience. The images are random – high heels on the sidewalk with C-Town in the background, a woman dressed like everyone dresses when they do laundry, basically something that is clean. A stop sign with stickers. Part of the project included Karina giving disposable cameras to people, who walked around the blocks of Lucky’s and snapped pictures, which I assume account for some of the images. Obviously, they are not typical postcards. Destination Jersey Avenue: See the C-Town! Greetings from a red building.
Why a Laundromat? Why not? Memories, history, community, a shared sense of place, it’s as universal as washing, drying and folding your cloths, in other words, it does what art does best, informs us about our shared experience of being human

1 comment:

  1. Its so great to get your response on the project.
    I love walking by and seeing people look at the postcards!
    thanks for writing--karina