Close your eyes and think far back. Back before Covid ruined your travel plans. Now go even further back, before Instagram let you geotag your location — heck, even before Instagram itself. Think back to a time when phone cameras were terrible and you had to ration your texts and emails. Now recall yourself on vacation. You want to share the beauty of what you’re seeing with your best friend, your significant other, and your grandma. Fortunately, in any market, public square, gift shop, or hotel, there is a rack of postcards.
Ah, the postcard, a 4×6 piece of papery magic that allowed you to share your travels with one lucky person back home (and usually by the time you got home). This printed ephemera was the way we used to relay the architecture of a foreign city before the days of social media, iMessage, and Facetime. I guess that’s why there was a nostalgic joy that I felt when I came across the Unsent Postcard project.
Unsent Postcard is a project between architect-turned-photographer Lorenzo Zandri and architect / urban designer Giorgia Scognamiglio in partnership with the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
Created in 2017 and still active today, Unsent Postcard is a fine art series with an intriguing and admirable goal. In a time period of over-tourism that touts “Instagrammable” architecture, views, and attractions, Unsent Postcard focuses on highlighting the lesser-known, quirky, and often overlooked beauty found through Europe.
For decades, tourism destinations, particularly cities like Venice or Paris, have intensively relied on tourism market and Architecture has always represented an attractive force. However, they are now experiencing what is called the “overtourism” phenomenon, with ever-increasing tourist numbers and being mostly known for a few “instagrammable” glamour sites.Unsent Postcard
What can we expect from this new era of too much tourism?
Unsent Postcard answers inverting the process and celebrating significant, intriguing and rare architectures, cities and villages through the recovery of an unused medium of communication, the postcard. This project enlarges the concept of beauty and invites travelers to consider a wider range of places, take a moment to reflect on the experience and condense impressions in a few sentences on paper. Restoring the ideas of culture and sophistication of the Grand Tours, Unsent Postcard contrasts the consummistic and bulimic approach with slower meaningful explorations.Unsent Postcard
The Unsent Postcard project and the notion of postcards in general bring up an important aspect of architecture photography and its ability to convey a sense of place. Before photography existed, sketches and paintings were used to share the appearance of a city and its structures. As film and photography came onto the scene — and even today as folks line up to take their photos of the Eiffel Tower and The Gherkin — we still love sharing buildings with one another.
If, like me, you are smitten with the idea of this project, you can see more Unsent Postcards and acquire your own by checking out their site unsentpostcard.com and by keeping an eye on their Instagram @unsentpostcard.