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Description Boring Postcards

I have recently started a project on 'Boring Postcards'. This has been inspired by the British photographer Martin Parr. Parr has written and edited more than 100 books, many of which reflect his interest in the everyday aspects of our lives: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cities we live in, and so on. As a social commentator, satirist and anthropologist, he focuses not only on the ordinary and interesting aspects of life, but also on uninteresting aspects - or, in his words – the broing side of our existence. He has published 3 books of 'Boring Postcards' - for the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.

I displayed a small selection of the Boring Postcards that I have found at an exhibition in Port-la-Nouvelle in October 2019 which featured some of the works of Martin Parr.

In a presentation I began by trying to answer the question, “What makes a postcard boring?”  I argued that this is very subjective. I could think that a postcard is boring. You might find it interesting.

I went on to say that when I am confronted with a boring postcard, I ask myself five questions:

i) THE SUBJECT: Why did a photographer want to make a postcard of this subject?
ii) THE MARKET: Why did some printers and sellers think they could make money with this boring postcard?
iii) THE CHOICE OF THE SENDER; why did anyone buy this boring postcard? Was it a deliberate choice, or were there no other postcards available?

iv) THE MESSAGE: What message –visual or verbal – did the send of this postcard intend to convey?

v) THE DESTINAIRE: what did the recipient of the boring postcard, the image, think?

There are two additional considerations:

vi) a postcard can be boring because of what it contains – for example a row of ordinary houses, a roundabout, or the inside of a tunnel.

vii) last, a postcard can be boring because of what it DOES NOT CONTAIN - for example, a swimming pool without anyone; a street without cars or passers-by; a restaurant without customers; etc.


I am working with colleagues in IUOMA (the International Union of Mail Art) to collect a large number of Boring Postcards. I planned to exhibit these in the South of France and the North of Holland in the summer of 2020, but, because of the virus, both of these exhibitions were cancelled. I hope they will take place somewhere, someday, and, in the meantime, I'm still collecting Boring Postcards.