1973 (1)


Actually, it's May 23, 2021. But this essay is about On Kawara, not me.

On Kawara was in Stockholm as 1972 ticked over into 1973. And on January the 1st he MET the following people.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

His day was bookended by the Hulténs. The list serves to confirm that On Kawara was on his own in Stockholm. No Kasper Konig. No Dan Graham. No Hiroko Hiraoka. The book On Kawara continuity/discontinuity makes available I MET for January 1 through to January 7. Pontus Hultén crops up on January, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Here is January 4:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I've drawn attention to this day, because the list includes Bjorn Springfeldt. He edited the aforementioned continuity/discontinuity book, perhaps the most important book published about On Kawara to date, as it reproduces all the Journals from 1966 to 1979, inclusive. I've been relying on those details of Date Paintings and their subtitles for each essay so far in this website.

By 1980, when
On Kawara continuity/discontinuity was published, Pontus Hultén had moved on to the Pompidou Centre in Paris, where in 1977 he presented a solo show of On Kawara's Date Paintings. As previously mentioned, that didn't make an impact on the art-going public, but never mind, Bjorn Springfeldt had been at the Moderna Museet in 1972 and he was in a position to pick up the baton and run with it in 1980, being involved in organising a retrospective of what would remain On Kawara's most productive years.

The following has been taken from
continuity/discontinuity. Perhaps it suggests that with the decision about subtitles made (no more newspaper quotes), On Kawara was able to get back to the meditative practice of painting itself. One has to go back to November, 1971, for a month when more Date Paintings were made.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The following DP may have stayed in Stockholm. It was bought by the museum in 1980, the year of the continuity/discontinuity show, the same year that the gallery bought June 22, 1979 and On Kawara donated May 18, 1966.


I also have access to this reproduction:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Moreover, On Kawara took the following photo, so that he had a documentary record of his studio in Stockholm and five of the last seven Date Paintings he painted there. Shame that there are no architectural clues as to what kind of room he was in.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

That book in the foreground looks interesting. It would seem to be a daily log of productivity, and so may well include the names of the individuals who got I GOT UP postcards. I know that such a book exists, because it is mentioned by René Block in the introduction to On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986, but I suspect it has not been shown before in public. It would provide full and easy answers as to who On Kawara courted in the art world, and who he sent cards to in his friendship group, and how those two worlds evolved and intersected over the years.

The only January 1973 postcards I know about are the following which went from Stockholm to the collector Herman van Eelen in Amsterdam.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

That's the Dutchman who bought eight Date Paintings from the beginning of May 1970, and who received 126 I GOT UP postcards that year. I know he received the seven (and only seven) in 1973 because of the statement below. Who needs to read Dutch when you can read numbers?


Actually, let me go back to On Kawara's log book. That needs to be properly thought through. This is a close up of it:


The first column is a stamp of the date, with Sundays separated from the rest of the week. It can't be a log of the Date Paintings, as the last one of those made was on January 22. Yet we can see that the row for January 24 is fully filled in. It seems to me that each day has two columns that might be for dates. Then a column that might be for a name, divided into first
and second name. Then a tick column. Then another wide column for first and second name, finally another tick column.

In which case this log must just be for the I GOT UP postcards. And I can see now that the third column is the getting up time, with A.M. prominent. The two columns with names in it are complete to the bottom of the page, because On Kawara had decided in advance - perhaps for several months in advance - who he was going to send postcards to.

Which means that this photo was taken on January 25, 1973. The reason that the second column is not filled in is that the artist had not posted the cards yet. At least that's my current hypothesis. The card to Herman van Eelen on January 25 suggests a 10.17A.M. getting up time, which I can convince myself is what it says in column three.

But I wouldn't like to say whether Herman van Eelen is the name in column four or six. Tell I a lie, it's not the name in column 4, but it might be the name in column six.

Perhaps this would be a good time to summarise what I know about the postcards that have been sent from the beginning of On Kawara's I GOT UP project.


First card. About 300 of them to
Kasper König, most of which have survived

Second card. A few to artists and writers, such as William Copley and John Evans. But most were not retained, or so it seems.


Card one. The postcard to KK continued until OK was back in New York. Then from April to July, inclusive, OK sent about 120 cards to Konrad Fischer.

Card two. Because his year-long travelling was coming to an end, OK sent the second card to several individuals, including Joseph Kosuth and Christine Kozlov. Another card to John Evans and probably about a month's worth of cards to Dan Graham. From April, the second card went to
Toshiaki Minemura, possibly until July.

Lucy Lippard got a month of cards in November, but that is the only info I currently have about either postcard from August to December.


Card one. From 21 Feb the first card went to Dan Graham. 120 of the same view of the statue of liberty followed. How's that for a statement of friendship, trust and shared interest? Dan's the man! After that
R. Kostelanetz got the first card, possibly as many as 139.

Card two. Hirotsugu Aoki got a month's worth of cards. From the end of April, Herman van Eelen got 120.

By the end of the year, when On Kawara was in Japan, Seth Siegelaub and
Vito Acconci, were getting the cards


First card: Hiroko Hiraoka (two from Hawai). R. Mazarguil (April to June?).

Second card: John Perreault (January), Germano Celant (February), Dr Jost Herbig (November).

Actually, that split between first and second cards is arbitrary. I don't have enough data to be sure, or to say more.


First card. Doug Waterman (March) DR K.P. Hultén (May to September).

Second card.
Gerard Durozoi (January), Dr H.J. Daled (May).

Again, the spilt between first and second postcards is subjective.

So there we have it. Very partial information. But
Kasper König, Dan Graham and Pontus Hultén should take a bow. They inspired On Kawara to make a special effort with his I GOT UP series. And they returned the favour by retaining their postcards. Of course, they did.

One of the most interesting things about the prospect of getting access to On Kawara's postcard log, is to find out who was sent cards but didn't have the gumption or luck to retain them. What do I mean? Oh, something like this:

Andy Warhol: "Dude, where is my collection of On Kawara cards?"

Factory hand: "Andy, you flushed them down the loo as they came in. Don't you remember? Day after day. 120 flushes in a row, but you commemorated each one with such beautiful words."

Andy: "Such as?"

Factory hand: "Everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."

Andy: "Flush."

Factory hand: "Art is what you can get away with."

Andy: "Flush."

Factory hand: "I am a deeply superficial person."

Andy: "Flush."

Factory hand: "…That's it. I can't remember any more."

Andy: "You mean nobody was taking notes? Christ, I thought there was always someone taking notes."

For some reason that has prompted a new thought. Thinking of the timing of the cards to Lucy Lippard, the Andy Warhol in me is wondering if the situation cannot be summarised as follows:



By the end of January, On Kawara had taken his leave of Stockholm. He did not return home to New York, but embarked on a southern journey. Below is the route he took, from Stockholm, to Paris, to Casablanca, to Grand Canaria, to Dakar, to Freetown. He Date Painted in each of these places and kept up with his I GOT UP, I WENT, I READ and I MET projects. Am I sure he did that? There is no doubt in my mind that On Kawara did exactly what he said he did.


First stop, Paris, where he had lived, splitting his time between there and New York between 1962 and 1964, prior to making his permanent home in New York. So it was well-known territory. Here is I WENT for February 1.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

That's not a particularly clear reproduction. It comes from the Dallas Museum book, and even after studying the map with a magnifying glass, I can't make out the red dot that would tell me where On Kawara stayed the night. There are no I GOT UP postcards available to me from his Paris time to give me the address either. However, I've marked the places that he stopped on the following map, see the red circles containing question marks..


The red circle nearest the top edge and the left edge may have been where he slept.

The stop, whether it was his sleeping place or not, may have been on the road where I've taken this Google Street View outside a hotel on Rue de L'Arcade. Or on the smaller road, Passage de la Madeleine.


Anyway, the photo is a reminder of the cafés and cobbled streets of Paris.

The other stop towards the left edge of the last map was on Rue Royale. I suspect On Kawara may have strolled down Le Village Royal, a historic shopping street in the vicinity of L'eglise de Madeleine which can be seen at the top of Rue Royale.


He also stopped by the Opera House. Though this may have been to go down into (or emerge from) the Metro. One has to remember that the red line on an I WENT map does not tell you whether On Kawara was walking, or whether he was in a vehicle, or at what height he was travelling relative to ground level.


On February 1st, On Kawara didn't go anywhere near his Paris Gallery (that's Yvon Lambert Gallery on Rue de L'Echaudé). Nor to the restaurant run by his friend, Roger Mazarguil, on Boulevard Periere. Perhaps the nearest we get to successfully tracking On Kawara in Paris is the double stop he made on Rue Moliere.

One stop, may have been to pop into this traditional tailor's on the right. Though again that's entirely speculative.


But I feel on surer (wrong word) ground in suggesting On Kawara ate a meal in this Japanese restaurant on the left.


The Takara has been there for sixty years, so that it's perfectly possible that On Kawara went in there in 1973. Could this be him eating in the Tamara in February of 1973?


Here is an extract from the Tamara's own publicity. No mention of On Kawara, though as one reads it, one increasingly gets the impression that his name is about to crop up:


On Kawara was in Paris for at least ten days before he got his paint-brushes out and went into action.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

That was the only Date Painting he made in Paris. How do I know? Because of the artist's scrupulous records, that part of them made available to the general public by On Kawara: continuity/discontinuity.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

It must be borne in mind that On Kawara could read French. He had the opportunity to revert to using sentences from the paper of the city he was living in as the subtitle to his Date Painting. That had always added a political dimension to his work. But as we can see from the above record, he didn't do that.

Next stop, Casablanca. I have an I WENT for February 17, 18 and 19 (see below). February 18 was a Date Painting day, so he didn't go far afield. Actually, he didn't explore the more historic parts of the city in any of these three days, instead keeping to the commercial and hotel district.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Below is the postcard that On Kawara sent
Kasper König on the first of these three days. Note that KK's address is Nova Scotia, where OK would be joining him in a couple of months. Expect the unexpected.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

This postcard handily gives the address of the Post office as L'avenue Hassan II. And On Kawara did visit this on two of the three days I have I MET for. Perhaps he was posting completed Date Paintings to Hiroko in New York. But if so, which ones? Surely those painted in Stockholm were sent back to New York before he left his residency. That is, if they left Stockholm at all. There is a story there, but I will leave that until I'm writing about July and its Date Paintings. On Kawara had only made one Date Painting in Paris, and if he was in need of new canvases presumably they would have been sent to him there, where he was staying for a decent time and the post could be relied on.

It may be that On Kawara simply used the post office for his postcards. Though if that was the case, why didn't he visit it every day? In
SILENCE, Anne Wheeler tells us that On Kawara would sometimes prepare his stamps for the postcards the night before, but would always execute the postcards on the given day. Which falls short of saying that he would post it that same day. I think it's reasonable to assume that sometimes circumstances would dictate that it might be two days before a postcard was posted. Indeed, come to think of it, February 18, 1973, was a Sunday. I suspect the post office would have been closed.

Below is is a detail from I WENT on the 17th. The post-office is on the red line, bottom left, near the circular 'Fontanne'. On Kawara's hotel is indicated by the red dot, on the right edge of his circuit.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

As I say, it was the middle of the three I WENT days that On Kawara made a Date Painting. This time I'm reproducing the whole of the map, not just a detail.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The old part of the town is north and west of On Kawara's hotel (marked with a red pin on the satellite picture below). He didn't venture to the crowded market, the religious centres or the large squares on any of these three days, but I dare say he did so on other days, as he only did two Date Paintings in the week or so he was in Casablanca.


An interesting thing about this Date Painting (below) is the Arabic script on the newspaper extract. As far as I know, On Kawara couldn't read Arabic. In which case, I'm surprised he didn't revert to using an empty box. Having said that, aesthetically it makes for an irresistible contrast to the Roman alphabet letters painted onto the canvas.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Below is a detail from I WENT on the 19th of March. He went to the post office again, this time, I assume, with four cards to mail.

By the way, Google Street View is not yet available in Morocco. Various African countries have been added to Street View since South Africa was in 2009, but coverage is still incomplete. Sadly, it means I can't research all the nooks and crannies that On Kawara explored while in this Moslem city.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Next stop, the Canary Islands. In particular, the town of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where he arrived on February 22. He was only there for a few days, and I think the first full day was spent having a look around. The red notation 'LEON Y CASTILLO Y BEETHOVEN' isn't as interesting as it sounds. There are roads called 'Calle Leon Y Castillo' and 'Calle Beethoven', so I think that's just an indication of where On Kawara went beyond the edges of the map he was utilising.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

It makes sense to turn the map around, so that north is at the top of the page. This allows direct comparison with a Google map from 2021 to be made

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I have taken photos at all of the places that On Kawara suggests he made some kind of stop at.


Perhaps the most interesting of these photos, is the view from the most northerly point of his route. Looking south one can see the commercial development that has taken place. The Canary Islands offer a mild climate all year round and it has been developed so that a large number of warmth-seeking north Europeans can stay there for a week or two.


The exploitation of the environment for tourists was well underway in On Kawara's time, as revealed by the I WENT postcard of Feb. 23, which shows the hotels of the seventies just a little further south than the above photo does.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On Kawara was staying at the Hotel Concorde. That is still there now, though it no longer overlooks the beach. A new generation of development has swarmed around it, downgrading its status, though the rooftop pool has proved one way of preserving its attraction.


I doubt if On Kawara was as impressed by Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as he had been by Hawaii, two years before. But then that's comparing World Heritage Sites, and there's no need to do that. On Kawara was living the most delightful existence, underpinned by his own flexibility, curiosity and decision making. Oh, and through the money he was now earning from his Date Painting.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I think On Kawara flew to Dakar, Senegal, on February 26. I say that because the I WENT for February 27 is the only one that shows him staying at a hotel in the docks near the bus station. It looks to me as if he spent February 27 taking a look around the city and selecting somewhere more comfortable or more interesting for the rest of his stay.

In other words, although On Kawara woke up in a hotel in the top right of the map, the next night he would be staying at a place he found that day, bottom left.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Certainly, the postcards to Kasper König for March 1 onwards show this new address.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Has On Kawara got himself into a position from where he can enjoy himself? From where he can let rip in his own unique way? Oh, I think he has. And I'll just take a little break here in order to set things up for illustrating what's to come.


The above page is from On Kawara: One Year's Production. The year in question being 1973. It's one of three publications on On Kawara's work that is feeding into this essay. Here are the three books, published in 1974, 1980 and 2000, respectively.


The I WENT maps tend to come from the third volume. The postcards come from the first and the third. The lists of Date Paintings are from the second volume, continuity/discontinuity, the book that's been of use to me, essay after essay. Here is the list that applies for the remainder of this page:


The picture side of the first Dakar I GOT UP postcard to KK, dated 1 March, 1973, is a colour-saturated scene of African women at a fish market.


It's a shame that production costs in 1974 mean that most of the postcards are reproduced at a small size and in black and white.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Perhaps this frustrated Kasper König, so when in 2000 he had the opportunity to publish On Kawara: Horizontality/Verticality, he published his artist friend's postcards in full-size and full-colour on high quality glossy paper. How great, in so many ways, is this:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

This page being placed opposite the I WENT map for the day. But there has been another technological advance in the last twenty years, which is why the next few images are going to contribute to bringing On Kawara's documentary work to life, courtesy of Google.

A few yards from On Kawara's hotel can be found this scene, rivalling the fish market. Feel the enervating heat, even in the shade. A heat to which the human body has adapted itself quite nicely


And at On Kawara's hotel itself, the Hotel du Plateau on Rue Jules Ferry, a soldier stands guard in case one of the guests happens to be Date Painting and doesn't want to be disturbed.


That soldier is still there four months later (The Google photos were taken in May and September, 2015. Yes, Google Street View automatically archives itself.) Does the soldier wash cars when he has nothing else to do? I doubt it.


From the window of the Hotel du Plateau overlooking Rue Jules Ferry is the following scene. No wonder On Kawara selected the figure-dominated postcards that he did while in equatorial Africa.


What are these guys doing? They are hoping that if they hang around in front of the hotel long enough, On Kawara will toss a Date Painting their way. And they are in luck. The first two background layers are of sunshine yellow, I trust:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Did the Dakar Date Paintings of March 3 and March 4, 1973, make it out of Senegal and into the art collections of rich Westerners? I will keep my eyes open for those two children of the sun.

Actually, I should correct something I said about the books I am drawing from.
These are the two books most useful for this essay. Each of them costs about £100 these days. But that amounts to a fair price, as they are rare. Neither of them is in any UK library that I have access to. I don't suppose they will even be in the British Library, because the books were not published in the UK and so there is no requirement for them to be sent there.


And below are the two books I have been drawing on for information about Date Painting and reproductions of them in all the essays. The pen and pencil marks of my research glide all the way through them.


Next stop for me, my books and computer, is Freetown in Sierra Leone. On Kawara was there for ten nights and the postcards to
Kasper König are all reproduced in On Kawara: One Year's Production.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

KK had the opportunity to reproduce one of these perfectly in On Kawara: Horizontality/Verticality, and he went for this one:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Where have all the bright colourful people gone? They are sadly missed. However, the postcard is of geographical interest. On Kawara stayed at the Paramount Hotel. For once, an On Kawara hotel no longer exists, but the Cotton Tree featured on the picture side of the postcard does. I'll come back to that.

First, I WENT for March 8, which sits opposite it's I GOT UP equivalent in
On Kawara Horizontality/ Verticality, so contributing to a double-page replete with up-ness and down-ness.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Bringing an On Kawara I WENT map to life happens in two stages. The first is to produce a similar map using Google tools. That can easily be done and, in this case, looks promising. On March 8, On Kawara went into, or stopped at, a few distinct places. There is every chance that some of the places haven't changed their function between 1973 and 2021.


However, Google Street View is not yet available in Sierra Leone. So I cannot do stage two of bringing On Kawara's I WENT to life, that is to stand in front of the buildings in On Kawara's footsteps. I'll just have to come back to Freetown in a year or two.

The best I can do for now is this satellite view. The Cotton Tree (that features on the postcard) is marked by the red pin in the middle of the picture. On Kawara stayed in one of the green buildings in the complex that looks like a bi-plane in the bottom right corner of the image. In other words, the picture on the postcard of March 8 was self-referential: it was taken from close to where On Kawara was staying.


Only one Date Painting was made in these ten days. On Kawara must have been doing something else with the majority of his time.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

And then a funny thing happened. On Kawara travelled back to Dakar for the last five days of his trip. Not to the centre of the city, but to the most westerly point on the continent of Africa.


The maps he made were on a different scale to usual. Perhaps that was all that was available. March 16th shows him coming in from the airport. Strangely, he drove past the high-rise Hotel Ngor, the best hotel in the area, designed by Le Corbusier and open for business since 1953, and went on to the Hotel Diarama, a low-level hotel, though still a desirable location.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

It seems that On Kawara walked onto the tennis court. He may even have played a game of tennis, though if he did so he remained at the same side of the net. It is pity that there are no I METs that I have access to. These might contain pointers as to what was going on. Perhaps On Kawara was attending a wedding and that's why he came back to Dakar.

He spent some time at the beach bar. (Perhaps there was a party. What do the slightly wavy lines represent in the above map? On Kawara did not usually drink alcohol, but I suppose he may have had a drink if it was a special occasion.) It looks as if he took a boat to the island that's just offshore. And why not? You can almost see the laughing and the splashing from here. The lying in the sand while soaking up the sun's rays. Beachballs bouncing all around.


What did he really do for the next five days and nights, given that he didn't do any Date Painting? (He'd probably run out of blank canvases, one gets the feeling he's been rationing himself since Paris.) Well, let's check out the I GOT UP postcards for clues.

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The getting up times do not suggest a late-night lifestyle. No parties, then. No all-night chess, either. And by March 22 he was back in New York.

On Kawara Horizontality/ Verticality, Kasper König chooses to do justice to this particular postcard of the above half dozen:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Which means he will have reproduced I WENT for that day, March 19, 1973. Let's see it then:

Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The red writing in the bottom right corner suggests he travelled to the Place de Independence in the centre of Dakar, a place which he visited more than once when he was previously resident in the city.

But a strange thing about both the I WENT maps of March 16, 1973 and March 19, 1973, is that there is no red dot to be seen. Perhaps, because of the scale, On Kawara decided to indicate his place of rest in a subtly different way than usual, by drawing a red square. I mean the red square in the top right corner of the Hotel Diarama, although puzzlingly there are two such red squares on the March 16 map. Could the artist have changed rooms in the middle of the night? Perhaps he found himself too close to the noise of the Blue Marlin bar that first night, or wanted a sea view. If you are in a hotel on the western edge of the Atlantic, you might as well treat yourself to a view of the ocean.

I mentioned Per Hüttner on the last page. The artist who invited me to stay with him in Stockholm in 2002. When I was in touch with him this time around, asking him about Torpedvekstan, I also gave him a link to this website. He told me that he knows Mexico City well, having spent six of the last New Years there. Indeed the book that we made together in 2002 shows him, a blonde, dread-locked figure, dressed in white, jogging through Mexico City just a few blocks from the Hotel Monte Carlo.

In that book, there are also photos of him in Stockholm, Paris and Amman in Jordan. Not quite Casablanca, but Middle Eastern and Moslem. However, it's the image of him jogging around Lusaka, in Zambia, that I'm thinking of now. There are two such images in the book, and, in both, the African people are either studiously ignoring him or paying a lot of attention to the vision in white that is amongst them.

Per Huttner. Jogging in Exotic Cities, Lusaka, Zambia. 2000, framed c-print mounted on dibond, 108 x 36 cm, edition of 7, camera by Fredrik Sweger.

The reason I bring this up is that there is no way that On Kawara would have been able to go about such places as Casablanca, Dakar and Freetown without drawing a lot of attention. True, he wouldn't have been jogging in a yellow suit, but he had to accept that a lone Japanese man was an object of curiosity at a time when - in Europe, the Americas or Africa - to be from Japan or China or Viet Nam or Korea might have been seen as a negative thing. The perception that Japan started the Second World War in the Pacific. The constant fighting in Viet Nam. And a general fear, common to most cultures, of people who look, and seem, different.

On Kawara was on his own all right. He was an object of other people's curiosity. But he could carry it off. He could cope with his day-to-day life while maintaining his artistic mission. Date painting. Date postcard-ing. Date mapping and Date meeting. How brave these artists are in their engagement with time and space and people!

Actually, that is a point in passing. I MET is not adequately represented in the published books about On Kawara. In the four books I've primarily been making use of for this page, the I MET count is as follows.

On Kawara: One Year's Production. This contains 24 I METs, all from September and October of 1973. (I'll be coming to them in 1973 (3).)

On Kawara: continuity/discontinuity. This contains seven I METs, Jan 1 to Jan 7, 1973, which is what I began this essay with.

On Kawara: Horizontality/Verticality. This contains not a single I MET. It's irreplaceable strengths are it's I GOT UP and I WENT. A remarkable 33 of each from 1973.

On Kawara: Date Paintings in 89 Cities. This contains a single I MET, for 10 October 1973, containing a single name, Hiroko Hiraoka. The woman that On Kawara was no doubt thinking of as he looked out over the Atlantic Ocean that had separated the artist from his mate for nearly four months.

In other words, should more I MET come my way, I may be able to come back to this essay and update it with a postscript. Alas, I won't be able to revise the main body of the essay because it's date-stamped.

Come to think of it, all the essays on this website are date-stamped.


In other words, even if I was given access to all the I GOT UP, I WENT and I MET raw material, I wouldn't jettison the work I've done with the set of books that I've had available to me. These books do On Kawara proud, partly because he had a big say in exactly what went into them.

Next stop New York, prelude to
Nova Scotia.


I didn't expect this to happen so soon. In preparing material for the next page, I have realised there is an I MET for March 17, 1973, in
On Kawara: SILENCE (that's the red book in the above photo), and that the first name on it is Hiroko Hiraoka. The others are Bruno Antoine, Moustapha Sow and Mamadou Diallo. Hotel staff? On Kawara was too non-hierarchical to say.

In other words, the reason that On Kawara went back to Dakar may have been to hook up with Hiroko. Now since they were both born in Japan and lived with each other in New York, maybe the most western point of Africa would have seemed like an ideal place to get married. The On Kawara book published by Kunstahalle Bern in 1974 - that's
One Year's Production - states in the intro that thanks were due to Hiroko Kawara. So they were married by then. It doesn't really matter for my purposes, except for the effect on On Kawara's daily art production, so let me persist with this.

The fact that Hiroko might have been jet-lagged on the 16th could explain the two rooms on the I WENT of that day/night. But the fact that it was a special time for the pair - whether they tied the knot or not - might explain the unusually large scale of the map.

The bar, the tennis court, the hotel rooms, the jetty leading to a paradisiacal island… It all makes perfect sense now. So here is detail from what I think of as a most personal and intimate - yet discreet and deadpan - artwork. The line-making executed with the deepest respect for himself and his partner and what they had together.


Two human beings. Blood on the tracks? Well, Bob Dylan, who wrote an album of that name just a year later, and whose 80th birthday was on May 24, 2021, though I was not thinking of that when I did my own Date Painting of then, had something to say about that, which is very much passing the test of time:

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved.
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved.
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm:
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you…
Shelter from the storm."

This verse too seems apposite:

Suddenly I turned around, and she was standin' there
With silver bracelets on her wrists, and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me, so gracefully, and took my crown of thorns:
"Come in," she said "I'll give ya…
Shelter from the storm."

Having said that, in my opinion, On Kawara's passion for consciousness will be passing the test of time a hundred years from now. A million years? That's asking a lot of the universe's attention span.