Given To You

Given To You: 130 Tea Moments.

New year's greeting cards are a good tradition of mine. This time I decided to give away Tea Moments to 130 relatives and friends. The enclosed tea bag prompted the receiver with the option to keep it, pass it on, or make it into a shared tea time.

PDFCard artwork (PDF)

In order to win my wife's support for the project I decided to wrap a decorative photo wrapper around the tea bag. The photo showed both an exemplary Tea Moment as well as ourselves in front of a major San Francisco landmark. That way the mailing conveyed right away its purpose was and a warm personal gesture with a recognizable faces and place. A convincing combination of traditinal Japanese new year's greeting card (nengajô) and a piece of mail art with intrigue.

Given To You

What to do with a gift?
New Year's greeting with tea bag (blackberry fruit infusion) sent to 130 friends and relatives worldwide [original size]


Given To You

A combination of art gift and greeting card...

Given To You was an attempt to give away a small gift to various people to explore the interactions and experiences that result. The card asks the receiver to make a choice as to whether they would keep the gift, give it away, or to consume it with someone else. It is a simple gesture which can trigger questions on gift economy, value, work, art, and life. It also brings up the issue of how much of vibrant art-making is done for no pay and outside the market system...

Given To You three language options

Given To You represents not only an interpersonal give-away but a small sized work of art, containing a photo print wrapped around a tea bag. Many artists have given things away. In the world of high-priced, highly commodified art objects, making a gift of a piece has been a gesture of resistance or conversation, or sometimes simply an integral part of a work itself. Fluxus artists wrote scripts for circulation and recreation; Edward Ruscha made early artists books in large numbers, available on the cheap for interested viewers; Felix Gonzalez-Torres stacked posters and candies with instructions for visitors to remove them from the gallery or museum, take them home, make them theirs. The possibility for free and inexpensive art for giving or trading is, of course, made that much more possible by the multiple — the more there are of a thing, the less it's worth individually, or, seen another way, the more there are to circulate, distribute, the better the thing proliferates and affects.