I Got Up is a series of postcards that On Kawara created daily between 1968 and 1979. Kawara would rubber-stamp two postcards with the date, his location, the recipient’s address, and ‘I GOT UP AT’ followed by the time he left his bed. He would mail them to friends, family members, and colleagues. This particular work is a group of seven consecutive postcards sent to French gallerist Jean Ferrero, depicting landmarks in Stockholm.
Kawara is known for his minimalist, repetitive works using numbers and language to form pseudo-self-portraits that conceal as much as they reveal. They toggle between several dichotomies: objectivity and subjectivity, regularity and randomness, and presence and absence. In I Got Up, Kawara combines the personal information of his morning routine and the intimate act of sending a letter with an impersonal stamp on mass-produced postcards. Overall, the postcards function as a diary or mechanical recording of his itinerant travels and speak to the growing global circulation of artists, objects, and culture. Part of an ‘information trilogy’, along with I Went (drawing his daily movement onto maps) and I Met (listing each person he met that day), the postcards transform seemingly mundane details into visually powerful and meditative reflections on temporality, distance, and existence.