Well, now it’s closed, so my praise comes too late to motivate anyone to go see it, but I wanted to note that the PostSecret exhibition, which I saw before the holidays, was excellent. It’s the sort of project that’s made possible by the Internet, but only has its full impact offline.
Partly that’s because having the actual physical postcards in front of you makes more palpable the fact that some individual person whose secret this is actually sat down and crafted each one of these little pieces of art. The physical artifact ends up casting the creator’s shadow in a way an image on a screen can’t.
Another component is the sheer volume you’re able to take in at the physical installation: You can look down the whole undulating wall and see this massive mosaic of cards, or walk through a forest of them dangling from strings—blowing lightly at the back of this or that one to bring the secret whirling into view.
As a matter of happenstance, there’s also just the right mix of levity and sadness to prevent you from getting desensitized. A huge number of these are just plainly awful: Admissions of hidden pain and, above all, loneliness—people confessing they feel so disconnected from the rest of the species that they can only confess it on an anonymous postcard. But these are interspersed with just enough silly or whimsical ones (among my favorites: “I don’t care that my women’s studies and comp lit major makes me unemployable, since I plan to marry rich.”) to keep you from going numb. The humor actually enables more sustained horror.
Anyway, if they’re doing another showing near wherever you live, check it out.