On Kawara (1932 - 2014)
I am still alive

typed telegram
8⅝ x 8¼in. (22 x 21.1cm.)
Executed in 1988
Gift of the artist to the present owner in 1988.
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Lot Essay

The series I Am Still Alive began with three telegrams that On Kawara sent in 1969. By the time this work was made in 1988, he had abandoned writing and explaining his work in response to art-world inquiries and merely sent the simple statement, ‘I AM STILL ALIVE’. Kawara sent telegrams to friends, artists, curators and collectors before the increasing obsolescence of the medium made their sending next to impossible. ‘Before fax, e-mail and text message, telegrams were the fastest way of sending written correspondence and were traditionally used to communicate breaking news - precisely the opposite of what Kawara’s telegrams convey’ (Jeffrey Weiss with Anne Wheeler, On Kawara- Silence, Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, 2015, p. 149). I Am Still Alive is part of a series in which Kawara relinquishes his otherwise strict control of the visual appearance of this work and is in keeping with the statement it makes: by emphasizing the lack of control one has over their fate and death, he accepts that some aesthetic matters are out of his hands as well.

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