GAME ON 16

I GOT UP 1976






INTRO

I learned a lot by studying On Kawara's 'I GOT UP' postcards sent from New York in 1972. (I mean the 117 sent to Pontus Hultén in Stockholm, see GAME ON 14.) The artist began by focussing on the United Nations HQ, for a dozen cards, then took the viewer on a journey around Manhattan Island, then made landfall on Lower Manhattan and worked north, from one significant building to another, before sweeping off to a couple of sports stadia and JFK Airport, which was the subject of the last seven cards. Definitely not a random set of views. On Kawara was following a systematic (though mysterious) geographical scheme of his own devising.

On and Hiroko knew they were going to be in Berlin for a year from the end of February 1976 - apart from two-and-a-half months back in New York - and no doubt exploring the European city would have seemed like a natural thing to do, never mind On Kawara's usual compulsion to set down his space-time co-ordinates. As we'll see, he stuck to about a month's worth of cards to recipients. There follows a table, largely but not exclusively derived from information contained in
On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986, showing which lucky individuals got how many 'I GOT UP' postcards from On Kawara while he was in Berlin:

I GOT UP
Postcards from Berlin:
Feb. 27, 1976, to Feb. 15, 1977

POSTCARD 'ONE'…………….POSTCARD 'TWO'

Feb. 27 to March 18……………Feb. 27 to March 20

Salvatore Ala………….21…….Unknown……………….23

March 19 to April 21……………March 21 to April 21

Konrad Fischer ...........34……
Roger Mazarguil ……….32

******************************************************************************
On and Hiroko were back in New York from April 22 to July 2
******************************************************************************
July 2 to Aug. 5…………………July 2 to Aug. 7

Hanne Darboven……..34……Harald Szeemann………36

Aug.6 to Sep.16………………..Aug. 8 to Sept 9

Unknown………………41……Albin Uldry……………32

Sep. 17 to Oct. 20……………..Sept. 10 to Oct. 22

Ellie Siegel…………….34……Anton Herbert…………..43

Oct.21 to Oct. 31……………….Oct. 23 to Oct. 31

Unknown………………..11…….Unknown……………..9

Nov. 1 to Nov. 28……………….Nov. 1 to Nov. 28

Richard Pugliese……….28…….Unknown…………….28



Nov. 29 to Dec. 17………………Nov. 29 to Dec. 21

Unknown………………..17……Unknown..................…23

Dec. 18 to Jan. 13………………Dec. 22 to Jan.13

Frank Donegan………..27…….Jurgen Wesseler………22

Jan. 14 to Feb. 9………………..Jan. 14 to Feb. 7

Ansell Bray …………… 26……Kenzo Tatsuno………….24

Feb. 10 to Feb.15………………Feb. 8 to Feb. 15

Unknown…………………6…….Rolf Preisig……………….8

It looks like eleven people got postcard one, of which seven are identified, and eleven people got postcard two, of which another seven are identified. Let's try and say something about those 14 recipients. Five were living in New York. That's to say, Ansell Bray, Frank Donegan, Kenzo Tatsuno, Richard Pugliese, and Ellie Siegel. Ansell Bray, Richard Pugliese and Frank Donegan were old friends of On's and have already been mentioned in this narrative. Whereas On had only met Ellie Siegel once, when they shared a table in a café in Mexico City one afternoon in 1968. More of that later.

No-one from On Kawara's inner circle of Japanese New Yorkers got cards, which is a bit odd. So I expect some of the unknown recipients were the likes of Hirotsugu Aoki, though clearly that is just an assumption. I remember Nobu Fukui telling me that he only ever received a single 'I GOT UP' card from On (probably from Mexico or South America), and that he feels he didn't receive any more because On didn't like the way he framed it. Which makes me wonder how Nobu did frame it. Picture side visible? Message side readable? Perhaps framing it at all was the error. The information on both sides of the cards has to be taken into account to get the big picture.

The other nine were living in Europe when they received postcards, and were almost all business contacts rather than friends. Salvatore Ala (Milan gallerist), Konrad Fischer (Dusseldorf gallerist), Roger Marzarguil (Paris restauranteur), Hanne Darboven (Hamburg artist), Harald Szeemann (Swiss curator), Albin Uldry (Bern gallerist), Anton Herbert (Ghent collector), Jurgen Wesseler (Bremerhaven curator) and Rolf Preisig (Basel gallerist).

The most important recipient was Konrad Fischer, On's cutting-edge, Dusseldorf dealer, who got 32 cards. Just as he'd got 120-odd from New York in 1969 and another 4 months' worth when On and Hiroko were road-tripping across America in 1973. For the moment, Konrad Fischer's Berlin cards are not accessible to me. I will endeavour to track them down.


ONE

My problem is that very few of these collections of cards are reproduced anywhere. To be fair, most of them are printed, message-side only, in
On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986, with a few picture sides included, seemingly at random. It's the collection sent to Roger Mazarguil (one of the recipients marked in red in the above table) that gives me a way in. The cards were sold in 2022, and a reproduction of all 32 of them, in date order, is of good enough quality to allow me to get a handle on the picture sides, and to source a good repro of them elsewhere.

The date order in which they were sent is from top to bottom, first, then from left to right. Which strikes me as odd. (And which may have struck On as odd. We'll never know.)

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


In addition, small images of all the message sides are reproduced in the aforementioned Berlin book. So let's get on with it. I plan to produce a map every eight postcards, so we can see the bigger picture as it develops. The picture of Berlin that On Kawara wished to communicate to his friends and his art world contacts.

First, the message side, stripped of its spatial arrangement, rendered into a stream of words that includes both sender's address and, in capital letters, the recipient's address:

21 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.10 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


An aerial view of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the famous building that was nearly destroyed in the war, surviving as a relic, and which was supplemented by the thin, postmodern, steel tower built right beside it.

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Google Maps can reproduce the above view very easily today. The main road that heads off towards the top left corner of the above picture is Kurfurstendamm. That's the road that On Kawara would walk along each day coming into the centre of the city from where he lived at Damaschkestrasse 21.

22 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.23 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


Dramatic or what? It also has unfortunate associations to a post-9/11 audience.

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But ignoring the low-flying plane, that's Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church again, from nearer to the ground, with Kurfurstendamm going off (west) on the left.

23 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 8.12 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


For the third postcard there is another view of the church, this time from Tauentzienstrasse, an eastern extension of Kurfurstendamm. The Telefunken tower, to the right of the church, is no longer there in 2023.

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24 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.51 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


Moving further east along Tauentzienstrasse, On gives us a first view of the Europa-Center. This is a shopping mall and office complex designed (not long after the steel church was erected) to emulate an American mall. It's topped with a large metal star-in-a-circle, the Mercedes Benz logo.

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25 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 8.46 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


Moving back towards the church and then turning away from it and looking east, this is the opposite flank of the Europa-Center to the flank seen in postcard four.

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26 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.14 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


The postcard sender and the recipient are now on the other side of the church, so that it is the half-destroyed original church that is in front of the steel tower. The photo was taken from Kurfurstendamm.


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27 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.02 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


Postcard sender and recipient walk west along Kurfurstendamm, towards where On lives. Both have to turn back to get this view, see below, of the receding church.


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28 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 8.53 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


We have kept walking a little further along Kurfurstendamm, as it were. This time when we look back, see below, we can see the top of the Europa-Center.

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Let's map these first eight postcards, as promised.

First, let me create a perspective of where On Kawara was getting up in relation to the picture postcards he was sending:

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That's On's living quarters towards the left of the map. The black circle, partly concealed, is the Europa-Center, and the yellow circles are where the postcard views were taken from. But I can do better than that…The numbered yellow circles, see below, are from where the photos were taken. The black lines show the direction in which the camera was pointing. Six out of eight photos include the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.



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As you can see from the following 'I WENT' that On Kawara produced on March 10, he did walk most of this route. (I mean the top near-horizontal line rather than the line that goes south.) Most of the few 'I WENT' maps that I've seen for his Berlin year show that On Kawara moved back and forth along Kurfurstendamm in particular. Home territory, then.

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

Let's not lose sight of where these postcards were going. They were going to Paris, and in particular to Roger Mazarguil, friend of the modernist, New York art world in general and Sol Le Witt, Lawrence Weiner, Daniel Buren and On Kawara in particular. The man who called his cat Iroko after the elegant woman that was On's companion in life.

Before I go any further, I should emphasise how strong the link was between Roger Mazarguil and these artists. Sol LeWitt did an early version of his seminal
Incomplete Open Cubes on a tablecloth at Chez Georges, the name of the restaurant where the Marzarguil family lived and worked at 273 Boulevard Pereire. There are photos of Daniel Buren applying his signature stripes over the awning of Chez Georges, reminding me of his activities in Nova Scotia in 1973, when On Kawara was also resident there.

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Courtesy of Laurent Mazarguil, ©ARTASLINK : FROM DISPLACED TO BROUGHT OUT Lawrence Weiner / Roger Mazarguil.

And, in return for an airfare to New York, Lawrence Weiner gave Roger the word 'DISPLACED' together with instructions for installing it anywhere. Roger installed it in te corridor of his home above the restaurant.

Interesting that On did not include 'Chez Georges' as part of the address on his 'I GOT UP' postcards. Occasionally this habit of missing out the name of an institution caused postcards to go astray, as with a 1973 batch sent to a curator who worked at the Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris.

Roger Mazarguil had first received cards in 1971. Then, following On's residency in Stockholm in January 1973, he and Hiroko travelled to Paris and met the Mazarguil family as recorded by this 'I MET', which was provided to me by Art Gallery Ontario:

February 7, 1973
Hiroko Hiraoka
Isabelle Leblois
Mikolt Kemeny
Gerard Breuil
Roger Mazarguil
Janine Mazarguil
Laurent Mazarguil

I've been in touch with Laurent Mazarguil. He has written as follows:

'After dinner at Chez Georges, Roger invited ON KAWARA and his wife upstairs to see the art works and have a drink. ON KAWARA met me in the SALON, and sometime that evening he asked me my name. I was 14-years old. I was champion of France in Ice Dance.

'Roger kept the postcards in a box, ROGER took them out of the box to show to friends or collectors. A little packet of postcards inside a paper box, simple and natural, part of normal life. What Roger valued was the link between himself and ON KAWARA. ROGER, he was happy every morning he got a postcard! Working in his restaurant was hard, so he was happy to receive a present.'


In 1974, On sent Roger more 'I GOT UP' cards when he was doing a road-trip across America. Why so many batches of cards to Roger Mazarguil? Because On knew they were appreciated. Roger Mazarguil was notoriously enthusiastic about clean, hard, conceptual art from America.

Here is a view inside the Art Deco building that is still the home of Chez Georges:

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Of course, there were private dining rooms also, and quieter tables, and on the pristine white cloth of one such table it is all too easy to imagine Roger Mazarguil taking his postcards out of their box and laying them out, eight cards into the series. He could have lined them up in order of getting up time, but I believe if he had done that he would soon have reverted to a more meaningful lay-out. Picture side up for now; date order. From left to right, first, and then from top to bottom. Thus the picture begins:

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

Of course, urbane Roger would have known Berlin well. He would have known that there was so much more to it than Kurfurstendamm. But he was happy to wait and see how On Kawara's Berlin emerged one day at time. For the moment, he contemplated the Europa-Centre and Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church. What did these two very different buildings add up to, the one religious, the other commercial?


29 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.31 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

This is on Kurfurstendamm again, at the first junction after departing from the church, which is out of shot to the right, or a hundred yards behind the two cars.

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30 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.50 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

I haven't been able to source a replacement for every tiny image that appears on the array of 32 cards Roger Mazarguil received in date order. But, basically, this next view is the same as shown in postcard eight, but from further back. In other words that's the Europa-Center in the background and the building with 'WERTHEIM' written on it in the middle of the far side of the street.

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31 März 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.31 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

This next postcard relates to the last one. In other words, the distinctive rounded corner building with 'CINZANO' written around its attic floor, here has 'GRANTS' and 'RADIO' on top of the roof.

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1 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.31 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

And this postcard is almost identical to the last one, though the traffic is different if one looks closely.

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2 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.18 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

Below, again the 'CINZANO' sign orientates us. As do the twin-towered church and the Europa Centre. We are on Kurfurstendamm still.

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3 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.42 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

Much further west along the Kurfurstendamm. In fact, On must have been nearly home (and on top of a building) when he had the following view.

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4 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.49 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

Superficially this (below) looks like the previous card. But in fact we're on that eastern extension of Kurfurstendamm, Tauentzienstrasse, and we're looking west towards the church and the Europa building.

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5 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.14 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

This (below) is slightly off the previous route, though its not far from the church and the Europa-Center.

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And as that was the 16th card, let me update my map. The blue circles with camera motif are where postcard pictures nine to sixteen were taken from. A cluster of five in the middle of Kurfurstendamm. Then two outlying ones, at the west end of Kurfurstendamm and the east end of what I've been calling the eastern extension of Kurfurstendamm. And, lastly, Zoo Palast a little north of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

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Let's remind ourselves that these cards have been sent to Chez Georges in Paris. No doubt Roger Mazarguil will have shared them with his wife and son on a daily basis. Having such a personal insight into the life and work of On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Lawrence Weiner, and Daniel Buren, amongst others, has clearly shaped the course of Laurent Mazarguil's life. He has been an actor, a film-maker and an artist, now much concerned with the LINK between one time and another, one person and another.

The growing collection of cards may have been shown to the odd customer who shared Roger's intense interest in art. But in a quiet part of the day, Roger would take his box of cards upstairs…

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…and lay them out on the white-clothed table of his choice…

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+egKbYaFRp6jkhRCkgyEMA_thumb_ec93g75On+VCRMi7Y%ghs+8bvg_thumb_ecfesP5D6Om6SaadYeM8a3BzvA_thumb_ed02syh0CtU5SSmyVElRlbI1Bw_thumb_ed0f
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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Stepping back, Roger would have realised that On's Berlin was still remarkably circumscribed. Had the last eight cards been slightly more about Kurfurstendamm itself, than either the church or the Europa-Centre? Hearing himself ask this question made him laugh out loud. His customers wanted to know what Roger was laughing about. And soon they were laughing too. Chez Georges was the coolest place to eat in Paris. "I think of Chez Georges as Little Berlin," said a customer (in French) and Roger laughed again.


6 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.27 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme

This (below) is a place to eat between a station and the zoo. On Kawara is now taking Roger (and the rest of us) away from Kurfurstendamm. We are about to explore the green area a little further north of where we've been so far, and south of the River Spree that goes through Berlin.

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7 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.56 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


The picture below shows the famous roundabout and statue where several straight roads converge, and is called Tiergarten.

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8 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.46 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


And this is a view of the golden winged goddess atop pillar from ground level. The distinct, white, needle-with-a-bulge TV tower at Alexanderplatz tells anyone looking at the postcard that the photographer was facing east.


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9 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.45 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


This next building (see below) is called Congress Hall. It was a conference centre in the 1970s when On Kawara was in Berlin.

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10 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.34 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


And this next (below) is a concert hall. If this building or the last one had been in New York, On may have sent three postcards of it to Roger Mazarguil and Konrad Fischer (who was getting the second postcard at the time). But the artist had in mind about a month's worth of cards, perhaps because he felt that his connections with Berlin were not complex enough to warrant anything more extended.

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11 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.02 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


As you can see, we've walked east. We are approaching the Brandenburg Gate, and the TV tower at Alexanderplatz is a lot closer.


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12 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 8.25 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


This next picture is a view of the Brandenburg Gate from one side. The architectural feature itself is in East Berlin. All the postcards that On Kawara sent from Berlin were taken in West Berlin. The Berlin Wall takes a swerve when it goes past the Brandenburg Gate, so that the monument has an appropriate patch of space in front of it.


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13 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.36 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


A second, clear view of the Berlin Wall. Finally the politics of Berlin's situation would seem to be coming out in the postcards. The words printed on the message side of the card can just be read from the repro in
On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986. They say 'Potsdamer Platz', so that's what I'll mark on the updated map, which is coming right up.

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The purple spots represent the locations of the last eight postcards. On Kawara had moved from west to east, basically, and he had reached the Berlin Wall.

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I should remind my readers of the course of the Berlin Wall. The wall was a complete circle, separating West Berlin from both East Berlin and East Germany. As I say elsewhere, West Berlin was an island of freedom/capitalism in a sea of autocracy/communism.

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Time to return to Paris to get Roger Mazarguil's perspective. It is still early in the day and his restaurant is empty.

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Courtesy of Laurent Mazarguil, ©ARTASLINK : FROM DISPLACED TO BROUGHT OUT Lawrence Weiner / Roger Mazarguil.


He chooses a crisp, clean, white linen-covered tabletop, pushes to one side a newly laundered napkin, pours himself a glass of sparkling water, and considers his precious cards afresh:

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

Roger sees that On is finally exploring Berlin, having taken his time to get his bearings. But what next? Is On going to follow the Berlin Wall? Or does he have another plan?

A customer tries to tell Roger that his
coq au vin is not up to the usual standard. Roger realises ('Mon Dieu!') he has been sitting there for hours, studying both sides of his cards, and that his restaurant has filled up around him. Which brings Roger back from Berlin to Paris in the tinkling of a fork fallen to the polished wooden floor.

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Courtesy of Laurent Mazarguil, ©ARTASLINK : FROM DISPLACED TO BROUGHT OUT Lawrence Weiner / Roger Mazarguil.

14 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.19 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


This next postcard was taken a little further east, though still in West Berlin. That is a particular church, Bethaniendamm, that stands in the top left corner. The wall dwarfs the pedestrian who I think of as On Kawara. He is carrying the black briefcase in which he keeps his Date Painting materials and his rubber stamps for completing postcards. On Kawara is going to help knock down the Berlin Wall with his conceptual art. How do I make that out? You may have to read the
1976 essay in the biographical section at the head of this website to find out.

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15 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.56 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


'Flughafen Taget' it says on the message side of the next card (just legible with a magnifying glass taken to the book
On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986.) Flying days, indeed. The air traffic control tower tells us this is Tegel Airport. 'TEGEL' being written on one of the buildings too.

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16 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.06 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


'Flughafen Tempelhof' is printed on the card. Tempelhof being the district of Berlin where the main international airport, see below, was at the time.

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17 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 9.43 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


'Flughafen Taget' is again pre-printed faintly on the message side of the following card. So I guess On Kawara did send two identical cards to Roger Marzarguil. We've flown from Tegel to Templehof and back to Tegel Airport. On is really on the move now. Flight games.


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18 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.06 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


This is a view of Charlottenburg Palace, a stunning house with magnificent grounds. You will soon see exactly where it is when I return to the map.

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19 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.14 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


'Sommergarten am Funkturm' is printed on the card. We're out in the suburbs now.



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20 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 10.18 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


Funkturm again.

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I have access to a single 'I WENT' from the 32-day Roger Mazarguil sequence, and that's April 20. As can be seen on the map below, On Kawara did not actually go to Funkturm that day. In fact, he stuck to Kurfurstendamm, passing close to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Europa-Center. He also went to the School of Art which does not feature on any postcards sent by On. Perhaps there were no postcards available of the building. Something that will be easy enough for me to check.

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

21 April 1976…'I GOT UP AT 8.55 A.M.'… On Kawara, Damaschkestr. 21, 1 Berlin 31…
ROGER MAZARGUIL, 273 BD. PEREIRE, 75 PARIS 17eme


And finally, postcard 32, the Olympic Stadium, where the 1936 Olympic Games took place. About as far west as one can get and still be in West Berlin.


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So let's put these locations onto the map. It's the red circles that represent where the photographers stood, in the making of postcards 25 to 32, working their way west for the most part.

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We've gone from The Berlin Wall shot, near the right edge of the map. And we've moved back and forth over Berlin in planes that took off from Templehof and Tegel Airports. Then a jump further west (but still in West Berlin) to Charlottenburg Palace, Funkturm and the Olympics Stadium.

Postcards one to sixteen go back and forth along a single stretch of street. Numbers 17 to 24 (purple circles) go from west to east until the Berlin Wall is reached. Then cards 25 to 32 cover a lot of ground in a great western loop. But that's only my perspective, let's see what Roger Mazarguil thinks. He is just arriving at his restaurant, the place where On and Hiroko like to dine and chat when they are in Paris. I see that Daniel Buren has changed the colours of his stripes.

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Courtesy of Laurent Mazarguil, ©ARTASLINK : FROM DISPLACED TO BROUGHT OUT Lawrence Weiner / Roger Mazarguil.

Once Roger realises - regretfully - that there are going to be no more cards, he waits until his restaurant is quiet then lays them out once more on a white, linen table-top. The big picture. It shows how On Kawara concentrated on an intense analysis of a small area for half the series, then started to speed up as he approached the Berlin Wall, then took off as he came to the last eight cards. From intensive study of small area to extensive exploration of the conurbation… Once Roger is satisfied with his mental image of On's big picture, Roger removes the first 24 cards so as only to leave the last eight:

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As Roger stares at the sub-set, he is joined by his cat, Iroko. "Tell me, Iroko, did On mean to send me two identical pictures showing an aeroplane apparently crossing a road? "Meow", says Iroko. "I think you're right. Of course he did! It enabled On to give the impression that he has travelled huge distances in these last eight cards."

Roger leaves the cards on the table for his customers to admire. A minority of the regular diners do indeed admire the completed series. "Why not change the name of the restaurant to
Chez On?" says one customer (in French). Roger smiles and replies: "I don't think Sol, Lawrence or Daniel would appreciate that." Though in his mind, Roger was indeed tempted.

Chez On; Chat Iroko.



TWO

As I wrote at the start of this essay, On Kawara continued to send postcards to two recipients for the course of his year in Berlin (less May and June which were spent back in New York). The most available set for scrutiny, after the cards that went to Roger Mazarguil, are the cards sent to Ellie Seigel, the art teacher that On Kawara struck up a friendship with one day in Mexico, according to her 2018 interview with Larkin Erdmann.

That's a bit strange, since On was in Mexico City in 1968, which was eight years earlier. And I don't think he was there again after that, not in the period under scrutiny. So On met this woman once, asked for her address so that he might send her a few postcards, and then waited eight years to do exactly that. Anyway, a contrast with Roger Mazarguil, who was a regular contact over the years.

Ellie Siegel told Larkin Erdmann her impressions of On Kawara, concluding with this paragraph:
'On was outgoing but not pushy in any way. He was very connected in conversation, interested in what the other person was saying. I don't particularly remember a sense of humour but we were talking about art, not politics.' Does a sense of humour come out more in a conversation about politics rather than art? I wouldn't have thought so, but never mind.

Ellie has sold all her cards in batches, but the two major sales I've tracked down. Thus of the 33 cards she was sent I can reproduce and study 11 + 14 + 1 = 26 cards out of 34. So let's see how On Kawara's understanding of Berlin - or what he chose to say about the city - had evolved into by September/October 1976.

First, the cards sold by Ellie Seigel and bought by Larkin Erdmann, who reproduced them
online and in a book that can be viewed on his website. I'm going to rush through these as ultimately it's the geography that I'm going to focus on. On is still at the same Berlin address. Ellie lives in New York, in mid-Manhattan. As for the pictures, we begin with the Europa-Center.

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation. Photos courtesy of Larkin Erdmann.

That low-flying plane again, the one that was the subject of the second card in the Roger Mazarguil sequence. Strange that those planes and the one seen over Templehoff Airport are all seen from the same angle. Has the Templehoff plane been cut out of one photo and introduced to the other photos for dramatic effect? Or did the planes in West Berlin really have a flight-path taking them over the centre of the city?

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation. Photos courtesy of Larkin Erdmann.

There is a sense of deja vu as On walks back and forth along Kurfurstendamm. Sometimes looking up at the distinctive church, sometimes looking across the street at the city's traffic.

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation. Photos courtesy of Larkin Erdmann.

At this point there are three cards missing (presumably sold by Ellie Seigel on another occasion). However, in the Roger Mazarguil sequence, the Tiergarten postcard was the 18th, while the following card is the 14th sent to Ellie. So it's likely that further postcards showing Kurfurstendamm, etc., featured on the three missing.

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation. Photos courtesy of Larkin Erdmann.

That's the last one reproduced by Larkin Erdmann. Luckily the following sequence of 14 cards can be found online, being a record of a Sotheby's sale. They go from October 1 to October 14, without omissions

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

The other half of the Sotheby's sale record is this:

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

What I hope to do is map these cards, and then compare the pattern with the one made by the cards sent to Roger Mazarguil in March/April. But first to point out something else.

Again, On Kawara has sent postcards on three consecutive days featuring the Berlin Wall. With Marzarguil, these were cards 23, 24 and 25. Whereas with the Siegel cards they come 19, 20 and 21 in the sequence. Also, there is no overlap between the actual pictures shown. These are three 'new' views of the Berlin Wall. First, the border crossing Heinrich-Heine-Strasse, with East Berlin and the TV Tower in the background.

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Second, Potzdamer Platz, a place which has changed so much over the decades, going from a no-go area when the Wall was in place, to one of the biggest building sites in Europe when the Wall came down, to a modern city square today.

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Third, Checkpoint Charlie. Which is shown more clearly in an alternative postcard that I will reproduce later in this essay.

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The above card was sent on October 7, 1976. I have access to the 'I WENT' for that day, which is reproduced below. As you can see, On walked part of the way along Kurfurstendamm and then went up to Tiergarten. He did not go near Checkpoint Charlie. Which confirms to me that the pictures on the 'I GOT UP' cards were not related to On's actual movements on the day. There were two separate geographical exercises going on simultaneously.

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That sequence of 14 cards, taking us from October 1 to October 14, is not the end. Five cards are then missing, but I presume they were sent to Ellie Siegel, as a final card can be found on the net as follows.

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

Can I be sure this is the last card? It's the 34th card sent to Ellie Siegel. And in the interview with Larkin Erdmann she recalls receiving 'about a month's worth of cards from early September to early October'. Ellie expresses remorse for never having thanked On Kawara for the glorious gift of a month's postcards. Indeed, I sorely wish that On had sent me the postcards in autumn 1976. I was in my first year at Cambridge, reading Geography, and for sure I would have written to the Damaschkestrasse address to thank him. I rather hope I would have responded in a Jean Pfaff kind of way. That is, by sending him cards I'd stamped myself, giving the date and my getting up time as well as my address:

Duncan McLaren, U1, Downing College, Cambridge, CB2 1DQ

I like to think I would have managed sixteen cards. Which would have consisted of eight different views of Downing College, and eight of colleges further afield, such as King's, St. John's, Trinity, Girton, Peterhouse, Pembroke and Magdalene. I've just written those names down in the order they came to mind, but no doubt a Cambridge geographer would be able to make something of the pattern.

If On had sent Berlin postcards to my Cambridge address in autumn 1976, I also like to think I would still own them, and have them on display in my Blairgowrie house along with the Date Painting I imagined On sending me at my parents' Hamilton address on my birthday in 1972.

Yes, it's a shame that Ellie broke up her collection, seemingly not realising that On Kawara had composed a 'bigger picture' through his choice of a sequence. Or did he? I am going to do my best to recreate that now.

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The first 13 (including 3 missing) cards were of the Kunsterdamm area. Then On went on a five-card trip south for some reason. Then he explored that area of Berlin also covered by about the same number of cards to Roger Mazarguil. I can't really tell what the last phase of cards was trying to do as so many of them are missing, but see the two isolated outlying green circles.

However, that unresolved map gives me another idea.


THREE

My daftest/boldest idea yet is to investigate the series of 'I GOT UP' cards sent to Frank Donegan. That's the mysterious individual who asked for there not to be a biographical note for him printed in the Phaidon volume,
On Kawara, and whose reminiscence in that book reads 'I could never beat On at ping-pong. Hiroko is a brilliant shadow'.

I came across the next image online, a record of the 2009 sale of 72 mailed postcards sent to Frank Donegan between January 1969 and January 1977. I believe these to have been all the postcards that were sent to Frank. To begin with I didn't give this image a second glance since the individual picture postcards are so tiny. But I'm now particularly familiar with the picture side of the Berlin cards, and I know from
On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986, that there were 27 postcards sent to Frank Donegan from Berlin between December 1976 and January 1977. So could I work out which were the Berlin cards?

I can discount ten for a start. The ten identical cards that On sent from South America showing two Argentinian gauchos (On and Hiroko?) on horseback. They were sent in January, 1969.

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I couldn't completely rely on this image. Because although it shows 72 cards, as were sold at the 2009 sale, I could see that the top row of three on the left was the same as the second last row of three on the right. Which meant I was probably looking out for 29 images of Berlin. Anyway, I went through the image, marking off a sheet of square paper accordingly, and sure enough I came to a total of 29 cards that I recognised as being of Berlin. There were nine that were of
Kurfurstendamm, which I assume were the first ones received. And five outlying cards which I assume were received last. By which I mean, three set at Charlottenburg Palace, one of the Olympic Stadium, and one of flats in the northern part of West Berlin. This is the latter postcard, bottom row, second from the left, the reproduction obtained from a separate source with no message side to it:

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When that is mapped (black circle in the map below), against the full set of 'I GOT UP' cards sent to Roger Marzarguil, it is tempting to assume it was the final card sent to Frank Donegan, because the final card (green circle in bottom left corner) sent to Ellie Seigel was such an outlier as well.

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And now if the former course of the Berlin Wall is superimposed on this map, we see how close the final card sent to Ellie Segal (green circle) and the presumed final card sent to Frank Donegan (black circle) were to the course of the Berlin Wall.


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The above composite map draws attention to 'Checkpoint Charlie'. One of the postcards sent to Frank Donegan was the following view of that important place:

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The above image crops up twice on the array of cards sent to Frank Donegan. Second from the right in the second row from the top, several images back. And final picture on the whole grid. So either a mistake has been made in the putting together of the sales lot advert, or On decided to send two copies of this postcard to a single person, Frank Donegan, just as he'd sent Frank ten postcards of the gauchos on horseback.

My favourite 'I GOT UP' picture postcard is one that's printed at a small size, on its own, in the middle of an otherwise blank page of
On Kawara: 1976 Berlin 1986. It's placed opposite a page-full of 15 message-sides to Konrad Fischer, Roger Mazarguil, Harald Szeemann and Hanne Darboven covering 16 April to 3 July, 1976. Here it is:

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It may show the Berlin Wall. But it also seems to suggest the Berlin Wall as spectator event. It reminds me of this next postcard image that On Kawara sent Konrad Fischer, in the middle of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July 1969. Moon landing and Berlin Wall as spectator events? Why not?

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But hang on, if the Apollo 11 image from New York was sent to Konrad Fischer, why not the Berlin Wall equivalent? We are talking about the pattern-making of On Kawara after all, the artist who was by far the best mah jongg player amongst the Japanese ex-pats.

I soon have a clear sample of both sides of the postcard in question:

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The distinct pre-printing of the message side should be traceable. Below is the full page of message sides printed opposite the tiny photographic view of the Berlin Wall as spectator event.

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

A total of four postcards from the same company, Andres Verlag Berlin, are visible on the above page. And it seems to me that it's the first one, top left, that is the one I'm looking for. Let's enlarge and find out:

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

Bernauer Strasse, Bingo and Bull's Eye! It makes sense that Konrad Fischer got this odd Berlin Wall postcard as he did the Apollo 11 one. Roger Marzarguil didn't get this particular card. On that same April 16, the 'I GOT UP' card that Roger received, stated 'I GOT UP AT 9.06 A.M.' all right, but the picture side showed an aeroplane over Tempelhof Airport, Berlin. On Kawara could keep two different visual narratives in his head easily enough for as long as required, just as he could visualise exactly what was going on in any given game of mah jongg.


OUTRO

Where did I get my interest in the picture card as art object from? I think I know.

A van, owned and driven by 'John', used to come round to our estate in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Mostly it sold Warhol-esque tins of food, and sweets, but often it would be selling little packets of a few cards that came with a small, hard, pink rectangle of chewing gum. All the kids (especially me) would regularly get hooked, and we would collect series, such as,
The Beatles, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Scottish Football Players, Batman and Robin, The Confederate Wars and Mars Attacks. The latter was the most memorable series, and the one I got a lot of money for when I sold it a few years ago. Sixty-five cards of Martians invading the earth and zapping humans and animals alike, creating carnage, card after catastrophic card. Then a little counter attack in the last five cards and mankind had miraculously foiled the invasion. What a masochistic victory!

The reverse of the picture side could be almost anything. In the cases of
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Batman, it was a big picture made up of all the flip sides, providing a motivation for collecting the full set. On the back of the Mars Attacks cards it was simply a description of the slaughter. Let's invoke David Bowie to make sense of it all:

"Keep your 'lectric eye on me, babe
Put your ray-gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah."


So there you are. Some kind of explanation for my passion for On Kawara's 'I GOT UP' cards.

How I wish that John's Van had come around one day, selling a new series of bubble gum cards called 'I GOT UP' . There isn't a child on Townhill Road, Hamilton, circa 1968, who wouldn't have been buying them, collecting them, swopping them. Not a child on the street who wouldn't have been spending all their pocket money on those cards, mouths chewing, eyes glowing and brains burning.

How we would have lived, even more intensely, our young, innocent, post-War lives.