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Postcards for Perec

Bodman, Sarah



Linda Parr


?The Postcards for Perec exhibition is curated and organised by MAMDP alum Linda Parr in association with CFPR. Current venue: Winchester School of Art Library until 11th November 2021. The Postcards for Perec exhibition tour continues until the end of 2022. You can view all 243 postcards on Instagram:


Bodman, S. Postcards for Perec. [mail art postcards]. Exhibited at UK. 14 September 2021 - 11 November 2021. (Unpublished)

Exhibition Performance Type Exhibition
Start Date Sep 14, 2021
End Date Nov 11, 2021
Deposit Date Sep 20, 2021
Keywords Georges Perec, mail art, Two Hundred and Forty-Three Postcards in Real Colour,
Public URL
Additional Information ´╗┐Georges Perec’s postcards were first published in a French magazine Le FOU parle, in 1978. Far from their description ‘en Couleurs Véritables’ (in Real Colour), they are only postcard messages, with no holiday pictures at all, and entirely in black & white.

The messages were translated into English by John Sturrock, and published in 1997 by Penguin Classics, in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces.

The unnumbered messages describe hedonistic vacations of happy holidaymakers, careless about sunburn and with never a hint of the discomforts of travel, nor the bills. There are so many messages that even if you took three holidays a year it would take a lifetime to experience them all.

The idea of this project was to respond to Georges Perec’s 243 imaginary postcard messages by making the missing images, then sending real postcards. There was an enthusiastic worldwide response, catching the imagination of students & professors, artists & writers, Perec scholars, translators, mathematicians and architects.

The messages were dedicated to Perec’s friend Italo Calvino, both men were members of OuLiPo, Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (workshop of potential literature). This group of writers and mathematicians, based in Paris from the 1960s, explored the use of constrained writing techniques, and this is the first clue to unravelling the secrets of the messages.

Perec made lists of countries & regions, towns and hotel names, using all the letters of the alphabet equally three times, dropping in literary and historical references, to give each message a location. He then also listed numerous activities, entertainments, thoughts and greetings before mathematically shuffling and combining them all. A typical message would take the form, “We’re at the Pension des Glycines. Weather good. We eat well. I’ve got sunburnt. Back on the 17th.”

The postcard messages were allocated to their volunteer artists using Perec’s own knight’s move grid system, which was one of the methods he used to combine the elements of his messages.

In this year of staying at home we have travelled through the Republic of Postcards in a postal post-modernist Grand Tour. The 40th anniversary of Georges Perec’s untimely death approaches. His work continues to intrigue and inspire, and through these postcards his messages have come alive.

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