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Postdated Paris

Can you tell me a story about what you were doing on the __/__/__? Do you remember that day? Where were you? What were you doing? How old were you? What did you see that day? What happened that day? What was the day like? What might you have written on a postcard from that day?



Taken on September 5, 2012
As I walked around Paris, I realized that the spaces in cities are experienced in trajectories rather than in zones or boundaries. Spaces become familiar and turn into roads or journeys as these trajectories are repeated, as one retraces the line so that it is well-worn with friction.

Location of Dates stamped into roads in Paris
I walk from the Gare de l’Est to the Porte Saint Martin, and then I walk to the Boulevard de Sebastopol until I reach the River Seine. I have repeated this so many times that the entire path has become familiar and I also deviate far from it by always find my way back on foot. Along the way, one frequently encounters dates on the pavement, like chronological monuments physically etched into the city, embedding the markers of time and dates into the city’s construction.
The pavement itself is a conservation project in the city of Paris, where buildings and distinctive architectures stand as monuments of the city’s history. When areas have to be dug up, they are usually patched up as seamlessly as possible, so as to blend into the original pavement. That is, except for the construction dates stamped over into the newly paved areas.
The distinctive architectures of Paris stand as monuments of the city’s history, while its roads are generally nondescript, except for the construction dates stamped into the pavements. I was fascinated by the numbers which I saw and recorded everywhere. For me, they were the marker of my journey through Paris, and I wondered if I could store more memories or stories inside these dates. And at the same time, I wonder about the trajectories and the paths taken by others.


05/09/12 was the third day that I was in Paris. As I was walking to the Louvre I saw some workmen pressing the date 05/09/12 into a newly made pavement. This inspired the project to make a GPS mapped archive of all the pavement dates I encountered in Paris. Each date was matched with a story collected from passersby or acquaintances on what they might have been doing on that same date. Interviewees were asked to write it as if it were a postcard from that day itself. The dates stand as monuments for each individual’s memory of a day.
This work was made during a residency with the Dena Foundation for Contemporary Art, under the mentorship of the curator Valentine Meyer. With thanks to Elio Germani, Hafiz Osman and all the people I interviewed along the way.