Today, at the De La Warr Pavilion, the weather coincides with Roy Voss’s aptly titled exhibition.
Outside the arched modernist building, a landscape made of a blue horizon, pebble beach and a few courageous bathers is reminiscent of a 1970s postcard.
Inside the perfectly lined light wooden frames, the work of British artist Voss bounces back with the set up on Bexhill coast. All the world’s a sunny day has travelled several galleries before landing in the open gallery of the pavilion’s first floor.
A postcard has been placed in each square frame, forming a perfect eye level row aligned on three large walls. Strangely, a handwritten word appears on one part of the card, blending into the setting and simultaneously creating a foreign element. This is Voss’s process for this series: he collected found postcards spanning from the 1970s to the 1980s from which he cut out a word from the back and placed it on the front. The viewers don’t have access to what was originally written on the back of the postcard. All that is visible is the visual content, at times altered or enhanced by the selection of words.
The add-ons Voss voluntarily merged with the impressive buildings, the romantic sunset, or the busy restaurant terrace generates an uncanny dichotomy. Each word gives an indication as to how to scan and then examine the visual content. The words are similar to “native”, “company”, “long”, or “out”, they don’t belong to any specific lexicon, and, strangely enough, are not part of the typical holiday vocabulary.
I am both intrigued and annoyed to have to decipher the artist’s codes. Why did he choose to cut out this particular word? What else was written on the back of this card? What could have been the purpose behind selecting this card instead of another?
If mystery reigns around the elaboration of these postcards, the search for a meaning becomes, as I contemplate each of them, more tangible and, if possible, they start to anchor in my reality. That is perhaps part of the scenario: sending an image with strangers and an unknown landscape to a recipient far away is an abstract process, yet, by adding a few words, or even just a signature, another vision might emerge, and suddenly materialize.
For a mere instant, I am sent back to the past when these cards were received. I become nostalgic of the time when a postcard was a surprise, a thought sent from across the world, the sign that I was important to someone else’s eyes.
As more questions unravel, a sense of humanity rises. It is emphasized by the handwritten words appearing as a parenthesis, a ‘by the way’, which adds a human presence I once sensed but which has now become real.
All the world’s a sunny day: Roy Voss at the De La Warr Pavilion (Until 8 October 2017)