Conceived and designed by Hera Chan, Thy Anne Chu Quang, Yen-Chao Lin, and Kate Whiteway as a division of the Dead Letter Office that was temporarily established at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art in Montréal for the duration of Whispers That Got Away, an exhibition curated by Atelier Céladon.
Recalling the impersonal violence of North American immigration policies and informal networks of diasporic communication, Dead Letter Office: White Glove Sale is an auction lot display from an intended future. The displayed valuables are constructed anew and shown with letters and items collected in Atelier Céladon’s first temporary Dead Letter Office housed at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, sewn into mousseline cotton chains. Canada Post forwards its dead letters—due to scrambled addresses and no return sender—to Undeliverable Mail Offices in Mississauga, Ontario, or North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Domestic dead letters are destroyed, while international ones are returned to the country of origin. Objects are often auctioned, and these auctions become robust sites for things that have deviated from formal communication networks.
Lost and found in Dead Letter Offices: elixir of life for a distinguished man on deathbed, perforated can with rattlesnakes alive and fighting, miniature obelisk cut from the bark of Californian redwood, roll of butter from Germany with a tin of diamonds at the centre, endless chain letters. As the industrialization of cities expanded to encompass the public’s desire for communication, a faction of the postal service was developed for its misconnections. These notations on desire are moderated by a sense and recovery, finally given pause in the window of Art Metropole.