Postcards from elsewhere

Marilyne Grimmer

2016 - Ongoing

Postcards from elsewhere is an ongoing participatory photography project that allows anyone to travel to the place of their dream in a snap of a finger! So far I have done it in Belgium, France, and during art residencies in Japan (2016) and Vietnam (2019).

Basically I scout the surroundings, look for interesting places, backgrounds to take photos and then (when needed with the help of a translator) I ask passers-by, neighbours, curious wanderers, shopkeepers where would they like to be if they could teleportate themselves to the place of their dream at that precise moment?

Once the people I meet in the street agree on participating, I help them find the right body position (depending on where they are in their imagination, whether the weather is hot or cold, whether they are looking at something big or small, etc…), I take a few pictures and ask them to write down their name, address and dreamed destination in a note book. Back at the studio, I look on the internet for images of that specific place and with the right perspective and incorporate it in a circle behind them in the photography while keeping the surrounding context. Finally I print the image as a postcard and send it by post or deliver it directly to each participant. I love to see their reaction!

The way people react was very different from one country to another and from one context to another whether I’m in the countryside or in a city. When I did it during my residency at Paradise air in Matsudo, Japan, people were very shy, it was very difficult to catch their attention but once we got it, they had no problem projecting themselves into another place, real or imaginary.

Matsudo was in the suburb of Tokyo, its inhabitants are mostly city workers. Whereas it was very different in Vietnam. I did an art residency in a small village outside of Hanoi where I stayed for 2 months. Most inhabitants were rice field workers. There, it was very easy to talked to them, they were very curious and were not used to see foreigners in their village. But it was much more difficult to make them understand the idea of teleportation. Most of them were too poor to dream of being elsewhere, far away or even elsewhere within Vietnam. But once they understood the idea, it was always very interesting to listen to their stories explaining the reason why they choose that specific place.

I wish to do this project in as many places around the world as possible. Next destination I wish to go to West Africa but subsidized art residencies are very rare over there, therefore your grant would help me considerably. I could find local cultural partners (Benin, Senegal, Ivory coast) and not worry about the financial aspect. I’m eager to discover new places, people and their dreamed destination. It is always a very playful and beautiful exchange with people I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to meet and to talk to and through this project I learn a lot about the local culture.

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  • Matsudo, Japan - Himalaya

  • Matsudo, Japan - whale

  • Matsudo, Japan - Final Fantasy

  • Matsudo, Japan - Hong-Kong

  • Matsudo, Japan - Jungle

  • Matsudo, Japan - Lavender field, France

  • Matsudo, Japan - By a lake, Canada

  • Matsudo, Japan - Capri, Italy

  • Matsudo, Japan - Saturn

  • Matsudo, Japan - the stars

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Tokyo, Japan

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Seoul by the river Han, South Korea

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Sapa under snow, Vietnam

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Pyongyang, North Korea

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - By a lake, Norway

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Cherry blossom, Japan

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - in a forest, France

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - London, UK

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Dalat, Vietnam

  • Hien Van, Vietanm - Paris, France