I came across a beautiful design for a passport once, in a column by Jaap van Heerden in the NRC. Jaap van Heerden (1940) is a Dutch philosopher of science, columnist and Professor of psychology at the University of Maastricht. Among other things, Van Heerden wrote the book Be happy that life makes no sense for which he received the Dr. Wijnaendts Francken award in 1991. The reasoning went something like this: imagine that all the places you go in your life are connected on paper by means of a straight line. Eventually, what will emerge is a beautiful line drawing. More places mean more lines. See this type of drawing as a sort of map, an impression of your life. The drawing could even serve as a personal identification. Interesting in this context is that you can decide to go to a place simply because it creates a nice line in your drawing.
Every day for a year, starting on my father’s birthday (day 0), I picked up a discarded cigarette packet. Empty packets, crumpled or otherwise, thrown away on the street by the owner and then flattened underfoot, driven over, blown away or wet from the rain.
I always find it intriguing to see how a three-dimensional shape emerges from a two-dimensional shape. Like a dressmaker’s pattern that is transformed into three-dimensional shapes in fabric. In the case of the cigarette packages it is the other way around: packages that are almost identical to each other in their original spatial form, become totally different as flat shapes.
I collected the packets and made a note of where I found them. The location, the day and my presence are linked with each other by the cigarette packet. By recording the location and the find in an archive I have also recorded my movement in time. (Photos of the packets byAndrei Tchernikov)
Packet found, day 1
Packet found, day 13
Packet found, day 26
Packet found, day 33
Packet found, day 35
Packet found, day 54
Packet found, day 159
Packet found, day 164
Packet found, day 170
Packet found, day 171
Packet found, day 182
Packet found, day 212
Packet found, day 271
Packet found, day 290
Packet found, day 333
Packet found, day340
Packet found, day 360
Detail from a sketch of a mural where the successive locations of the packets are connected by a line.
In the archive ‘a packet a day’, day one is the day of the first find. Day 366 (it was a leap year) is the last day. Each day of the year has a fixed number: 366 packets for 366 days.
From the archive ‘a packet a day’ (een pakje per dag). The places are itemized in the archive as follows: outside of Amsterdam the place/city is given as the location of the find. Within Amsterdam the street where the packet was found and the nearest intersection with another street are given.
For the a life project, the use of the archive is cyclical: after day 366, day 1 begins again. The finite and the infinite are set against each other in the repetition, every day in the future has a fixed number – my life, a packet a day.
208 - 050520 (amsteldijk - pres. kennedylaan) / lacquered white plywood / 21.5x36.5x2.5cm / 2005 This work refers to the original place
290 - 040810 (gauloises) / plaster / 34x17x3cm / 2004 This work refers to the original find
286 - 040806 (proud, gauloises, marlboro) / photos / 99x22cm / 2004 This work was made at the original location
For the a life project I used the annual cycle of 366 days as starting point. Every day of my life is a new day, a new experience, but a life also offers the possibility of reliving a previous day (with the same date, i.e. the same number). Reliving means that I concentrate on the place where I was (then) or what I found there (then). The experience is the creation of a new work to celebrate life.
The dual perspective of finite and infinite gives a life its unique quality. The finite nature of the archive of 366 days becomes less finite each time a work is added to a life.A life lives, it confirms my life, a life, life itself. Here the voice of the Japanese artist On Kawara resonates.
Series of works of art from On Kawara (24 December 1932 – 10 July 2014)
Today The Today series consists of simple paintings of a small size. On a monochrome background the date on which the painting was created is painted in white letters. I am still alive Between 1970 and 1979, On Kawara regularly sent telegrams to his friends and colleagues with the text I AM STILL ALIVE. ON KAWARA. Three telegrams preceded this series; these were sent in 1969 to Michel Claura, who made the exhibition 18 Paris IV.70. The telegrams contained the texts: „6 Dec 1969 - I AM NOT GOING TO COMMIT SUICIDE DONT WORRY“, „8 Dec 1969 - I AM NOT GOING TO COMMIT SUICIDE WORRY“ and „11 Dec 1969 - I AM GOING TO SLEEP FORGET IT“. I got up In the ‘70s, On Kawara also sent postcards to friends and acquaintances revealing the exact time he got up that day. These postcards were displayed during exhibitions of his work. (source: Wikipedia)An important element of the a life project is that a new, still to be made, work refers to the same day in the archive and is also carried out on that same day, give or take one or two minor finishing touches. So, on 5th May, only work referring to 193 (5th May) in the archive may be made. The name of the work will always start with 193 - xx0505, where xx refers to the year. The work can be made at the same location, the place, or it can refer to this location or to the cigarette packet itself, the find.
Works of art
Every day is a good day to create work for a life! This can be a work:
that refers to the (original) find
that refers to the (original) place
that is created at the (original) location
In the following sections, the already completed works are listed according to this format.
Over several years, it is possible to create multiple works on the same day (same number). For example, day 163 where work was created in 2005 and again in 2008. In 2005 the work related to the place, in 2008 the work related to the find.
163 - 050405 (montrond les bains) / print on paper / 30x21cm / 2005
Here are the works that refer to the place, the location where I found the packet. Outside of Amsterdam this is the place or city where it was found. In Amsterdam, it is the intersection of the street where it was found with the nearest side street. First the works are shown and then the finds with the place (scroll horizontally).
Place series: geographical intersection in white plywood
4 art works, followed by the corresponding packages (photos AT):
The works that follow were made at the original location, where I found the packet. Outside of Amsterdam this is the place or city where it was found. In Amsterdam, it is the intersection of the street where it was found with the nearest side street. First the works are shown and then the finds and the place (scroll horizontally).
Location series: gps route
4 art works
277 - 170728 (doetinchem), gps registration of / gps cycling tour with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 2 prints, each 42x30cm / 2017
277 - 170728 (doetinchem), print of / gps cycling tour with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 2 prints, each 42x30cm / 2017 The found cigarette packets along the route were photographed and taken. Together they form a physical letter in a new art work.
269 - 170720 (bergen), gps registration of / gps cycling and walking tour with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 2 prints, each 42x30cm / 2017
269 - 170720 (bergen), print of / gps cycling and walking tour with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 2 prints, each 42x30cm / 2017 The found cigarette packets along the route were photographed and taken. Together they form the physical letter ‘L’ in a new art work.
298 - 160818 (ijmuiden), gps registration of / gps cycling and walking tour with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 2 prints, each 42x30cm / 2016
298 - 160818 (ijmuiden), print of / gps cycling and walking tour with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 2 prints, each 42x30cm / 2016 The found cigarette packets along the route were photographed and taken. Together they form the physical letter ‘A’ in a new art work.
296 - 150816 (rotterdam), gps registartion of / gps walk with photos, prints on paper / digital file and 5 prints, each 42x30cm / 2015 The found cigarette packets along the route were photographed and taken
To the table / wood, metal, 10 works of art in varnished wood / 270x40x75cm / 2005
To the table is a derivative work within the a life project. Ten works made within the a life concept were sawn from 2 wide wooden planks in such a way that the leftovers form the beginning of a new work: a long, narrow, unpainted table with a double wooden top with holes where the works were sawn out.
In the open spaces, the 10 smaller works were put back. These works originate from the a life concept and were made in November 2004. They refer to a special time in my life during which I stayed at a girlfriend’s house. Using the table to determine the style of the work to the table is not a coincidence. After all, a table is a central meeting place where you eat, drink and smoke. It is also where numerous life stories are told.