Give Peace a Stamp: Franck de las Mercedes’ Priority Art Boxes

Franck de Las Mercedes Global Art Box in Old City Jerusalem

In honor of the new year, I’d like to open Designist’s 2008 posts with something that I’ve been waiting to write up since last September. I first read about the Priority Boxes global art project by artist Franck de Las Mercedes on Art News Blog and was quickly drawn in. Franck creates art works in the form of priority mail boxes and sends them around the world. The boxes, literally cardboard shipping boxes, are painted in Franck’s abstract expressionist style (and I’m using that phrase with lower caps because that’s how I see his technique not because it’s a direct part of the Abs Exp art movement per se). And they’re stamped with shipping labels that declare the contents – anything from peace and love to justice and freedom – ‘Fragile’.

The idea is to get everyone thinking – from the post office employee to the cargo driver to the person who requested the box – and exposing them to the concept of the contents of the box. Because how fragile are these concepts of Peace, Justice, Love, etc? In the wrong hands, they’re endangered or manipulated. Restricted from access and they become rights for the privileged only.

I was so enthralled with the multi-layered meaning of the project – and I’m such a sucker for supporter of global art projects – that I immediately contacted Franck to request a box (register through the website). I received the following email in return from Franck himself, “Yes!!!! Finally, Israel! I am really excited about this one!” I couldn’t wait.

When the box finally came, I excitedly explained to everyone in the post office workers what the box was all about and left them with all sorts of ideas to contemplate – or at least in my naive/idealic way I think I did. And then took the box, my husband (also the photographer in the family) and our daughter, and drove straight into Jerusalem’s Old City to take some pictures of the box in the holiest of sites in Israel. (hence pic above)

We now keep the box on our entranceway mantle, where we usually drop off our keys, mail and other important items for each day’s comings and goings. Each time, I smile to myself seeing the box displayed. It’s art, it’s mail, it’s personal, it’s global. Franck sends the works based on request and does not ask for payment for the works of art. But it’s important to support the project through donations or purchasing Franck’s colorful and expressive artworks.

Although it’s not Israeli art, it is global art that has reached Israel. And hopefully the messages behind the project will not only reach this area of the world in the coming year, but by you and yours as well. Spread the love, spread the art. Happy 2008 everyone!