Central to the work of On Kawara is his reflection on life - here and now - and the phenomenon of 'time'. To convey his vision and give it a concrete form, the Japanese artist uses language and numbers. This work comprises 126 postcards that he sent daily from various cities in the United States and Canada to friends and acquaintances in the art world between 1 May and 3 September 1970.
On each card he notes the precise time he got up that day: ‘I got up at …’ Thus he marks the time his day began and his location at that moment. This is On Kawara’s method by which to study the phenomena of ‘time’ and ‘place’ as essential elements of his existence. And in this way, he also shares it with others.
In his work, On Kawara often makes statements about himself, but beyond that he wanted to remain strictly anonymous. During his life he never appeared in public, never attended exhibition openings, gave no interviews and did not allow himself to be photographed.