PostSecret in Toronto – May 31, 2007

Written by Bev. Posted in books, miscellaneous, Reviews

I attended the PostSecret event in Toronto last week, so far the lone Canadian date. Frank Warren, the website’s creator and “The Most Trusted Stranger in America”, gave a lengthy but engrossing talk on the origins of the project, the behind-the-scenes look into how it works, amongst other things, and showed a multimedia presentation. After everything, he signed books for people (yours truly included!). It was quite a turn out!

I pee in the shower, which actually happens to be the most sent in secret, is among the many secrets shared at the first ever Toronto PostSecret Event. It was the first outdoor event for Frank Warren, happening in the park right beside The Ontario College of Art and Design. Many, many people turned out to cram into the park, with everyone sitting around on the mucky grass and concrete path. Originally said to start at 8pm, it ended up starting quite a bit later than that as the sky had to darken in order for people to see the images projected onto a large white screen.

When it finally did start, Frank Warren came out and thanked everyone for coming to see him. He said he always felt weird about these events because he didn’t really think of PostSecret as his, but as everyone’s. It was a community project that would not be possible without their participation. And it’s true, that fact, but his idea of something so seemingly simple yet so extraordinary is in many ways ingenious. It started in 2004 as an idea for a community art project, for which he handed out 3,000 blank postcards to strangers, encouraging them to send him their most private secrets. The response was overwhemling. The first secret he received was a postcard with two shopping lists on it, with the words “I am struggling with what I’ve become”. The thing that I believe PostSecret visitors most enjoy about the site is the fact they can identify secrets of their own through other people’s secrets and that in turn provides a sense of togetherness, a feeling of a virtual community, amidst the [perhaps] alienation representative of modern life. We’ll never know who sent in that postcard with the words we have so long been hiding from ourselves but it lets us know that we aren’t alone. And that’s a nice, kind of therapeutic feeling.


Frank sorting out the postcards he received. Image courtesy of Frank Warren/Facebook.
After the gallery showing for which the project was initially conjured up for, Frank Warren moved onto the internet for displaying these postcards which were now being sent from all over. It was the merging of old and new technology, resulting in something innovative and kind of spectacular. He says he gets about 1,000 postcards a week and he only displays about 20 per week on the site, but he tells us the reason for this is because he lays out all the secrets to be put on the site on his coffee table — which only has enough space for about 24 postcards. The funny thing is, he shared, was that his own daughter and wife have tried to sneak in their own secrets to be published online by waiting for him to leave and then quickly switching out another postcard with their own. Apparently, he knows exactly what is suppose to be there and what’s not so they are just as quickly switched back. And his wife’s secret? “I want to sleep with Richard Gere“.


A stack of postcards sent into PostSecret. Image courtesy of Frank Warren/Facebook.
Frank also shared with us his own secret, which is in fact in the first PostSecret book (page 20). When he was in fourth grade, a new, charismatic kid moved into his neighborhood. In an act of bullying, that new kid and some others held open his eyes and spit into them. He had never told anyone about this deep dark secret but after coming to terms with it, he told his wife and daughter this very secret. Then, like with the credo of the PostSecret project, he wrote it on a postcard and mailed it to himself to set the secret “free”. And now it appears in a book available all over the world. As horrible as this memory was for him, he tells us he would not go back to change the events that transpired that day for it has helped make him who he is today. However, he was happy to free that secret from within and I think that’s fitting with the whole idea of PostSecret.

 


Frank Warren’s secret
More Pictures:

 

Crowd photos courtesy of modernmod on flickr.
Postcard secrets courtesy of PostSecret.com

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