a postal performance

at the beginning of the year 2001, I sent the series of forged stamps above with the letter below to over 40 people across the world in envelopes that are also posted with one of the forged stamps on it. the forged stamps have been printed at the actual size of US stamps on sticker. interestingly, almost all of the letters reached their destinations.



If you received this, we are really lucky; either the people at the post office are so kind to have a sense of humor, or they have been terribly fooled -check out the stamp on the envelope if you still didn't notice. Anyway, this is about….


What forgery brings is the other dimension of art which is often undermined in popular discourses regarding art. Art is mostly associated with those myths of "creativity" and "originality", being imposed upon the mythical subjectivity of the artist. Indeed, creativity and originality constitutes the brighter side of art, yet the other half is the labor process; the human potential to transform and to give shape to things. This is what forgery is all about; it is an artistic labor process without creativity and originality.

On another level, forgery becomes subversive for obvious reasons. Rarely the people who commits forgery are praised for their craftsmanship, such an immense labor is often taken as some sort of thievery. Think of a Jackson Pollack painting, and a reproduction of it. The original is celebrated regardless of its arbitrariness and randomness, whereas its reproduction would -at least- be disregarded despite its precision and the intensive labor it carries.

And all those great counterfeiters… nobody knows their name. If they ever sign a work they do, it will not be their own signature, and they continue to live under the disguise of anonymity. Forgery does not only devaluate the notions of creativity and originality, but also attacks to the notion of subjectivity itself.

And Stamps…

Stamp collection might be the worst of all those "nostalgia trades" -such as collecting antique furniture or old books. The others are more or less related with a past everyday culture, at least. But stamps are not like that; first of all, although "philately" sounds like having archaic etymological roots, stamps come into existence only after the consolidation of the idea of state, "postal service" -and so the "stamp"- is one of the first things that a sovereign state issues. Stamp is nothing but the sign of state's monopoly over the communication, and the "distance". It is the stamp on the envelope that covers and seals the most personal officially with the authority of state, and expands this authority over the distance -anywhere the postcard goes. Unfortunately, disguised as an innocent, "elite" passion of collection, this monopoly and its ideology spreads among people starting from the early childhood.

This forgery is committed at NY, USA, in December 2000, as a continuation of "strategies against philately" developed by korautonomedia in the past.

Happy New Year!

aries @korautonomedia