INSIDE CRACK – Post Residency, Love Letter Project Continues to Deliver

An Interview With AñA Wojak
By Alex Morris @Nemiwai

Image by Lisa Anderson

Image by Lisa Anderson

In the small town of Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, the post office is the place to see and be seen for its 500 residents. Here, mail is held post restante – postal workers hold mail until a person picks it up.

Just over a year ago, artist AñA Wojak was awarded a two-week residency in this town. She received the Very Terry Reid Award and from its initial 14-day initiative, the project has progressively grown into an international installation and performance piece which soon will be presented at Crack Theatre Festival in Newcastle. AñA’s performed the project in many places, with music and sound accompaniment of performer-composer Eve Klein.

The residency had only one requirement: whatever art AñA decided to create had to be in some way relevant to the Bilpin Post Office.

She decided to send out a request for love letters, written by hand, to be posted to her in Bilpin. People from all over Australia and the world mailed her love letters, and AñA gladly pedaled her pushbike to the post office daily to pick them up.

Image by Lisa Anderson

Image by Lisa Anderson

“Even if there’s no witness, there is still a performance: I am collecting the mail” AñA said of her daily ritual to pick up letters written to lovers, to unborn children, to dying parents and loved ones who have passed.

AñA wanted the letters to be anonymous as it gave the writers the freedom to be completely honest. “If I took names off it became non-gender-specific, it didn’t matter who was loving who,” AñA added.

Since the project started, well over 100 letters have been written, and AñA still has to add some Javanese letters to the collection which were written during the sincerely yours installation in Indonesia. People from 15 different countries have written in for the project, and AñA’s loved watching it evolve.

“I think the most poignant one, that took my breath away, was one you realised somebody was writing to their deceased twin sister,” AñA said. “It’s a poem, two verses, not long. At the end he signs it ‘your dying brother’; he was so at peace. The depth of honesty and emotion that people were sending me… it was a great privilege to review the letters, and I really felt the performance had to honour them. I hope I have done them justice, because it was a huge token of trust for people to send it to me.”

Eve was also in the Blue Mountains during AñA’s residency, so the two worked together for three days at the end of the residency and then performed.

Image by Amanda James

Image by Amanda James

“It was this incredibly intense consolidation at the end,” AñA said. “Newcastle is the first opportunity we’ve had to do it live again, which is really exciting because we can play off each other.” AñA said working collaboratively with artists like Eve has been a real joy in her career.

“It’s finding someone who works in a different genre, yet it’s not that different at all. We cross over. Individually we couldn’t create the work that we would have together,” she said.

The letters will be on display for the sincerely yours (love letter project) installation at Crack Theatre Festival Friday through Sunday. Festival goers will be able to contribute their own love letters to the project and AñA and Eve will present a performative interpretation with the letters daily.