Filmmaker Julien Donada seems to have accomplished an impossible bit of mail--sending postcards to himself from the past, and then revisiting what the cards depict in the present. Why are we so obsessed with postcard-like things? Don't know, but we're very glad we convinced Donada to share his work.

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TMN: So, how do you find your postcards? How long have you done this?

JD: I started three years ago. Mostly I find the postcards in flea markets, sometimes in Paris but more often in the cities that I’m visiting. Sometimes in coffeeshops, sometimes in old bookshops…It’s often one of the first things I make a point to do when I arrive in a city: to find old postcards in order to locate the place and then re-photograph it.

I wish I had begun this project a few years earlier--I would have been able to photograph countries that I’m not sure I’ll visit again.

TMN: Then how much time elapses between finding a postcard of Venice Beach, say in a Paris flea market, and then visiting California? Do you find yourself taking trips specifically for the project?

JD: Sometimes I take a long time. It is a means of arranging meetings. I show the postcards to people on the street in order to find the place—it’s about seeking. And sometimes the place has really changed so it’s more complicated because I have to double-check to be sure (for example, the station in Bucharest, the street in Palm Springs). I don’t travel especially to take the picture, but I will go to strange districts in a city if the postcard takes me there. Sometimes these places are lost in the city.

TMN: Do you have any postcards now that you’d like to visit?

JD: Yes, I have still postcards to photograph: Lebanon, places in the U.S., Ukraine, and always France.

TMN: Are you a big postcard sender yourself?

JD: I’ve always sent postcards. I’d actually like to make them myself…


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin