Introduction to A Message For You


“A Message For You” is an edition of 52 DVDs by artist Aaron Cedolia. The work consists of individual videos, one for each subscriber, in which a stranger says the words “I love you, I miss you, I wish you were here.

…….TPG6 - A Message For You by Aaron Cedolia

Aaron Cedolia is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He is interested in video and live performance, repetition, gestures in everyday movement, and using technology to find simple forms of sincere expression.

Interview with Aaron Cedolia

Aaron Cedolia was interviewed via Skype on May 20th, 2008 by Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise of The Present Group.

Listen: (~27:00) 

icon for podpress  Interview with Aaron Cedolia [26:25m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

A Message For Each Other by Victoria Gannon

I don’t know the man who addresses me in Aaron Cedolia’s “A message for you.” Only that his name is Javier, and he has dark hair and a nice smile. He looks up from his book, which he quietly reads in a public park somewhere in New York, to speak four simple sentences to me. “Hello Victoria. I love you. I miss you. I wish you were here,” he says, so earnestly that I believe him.


You don’t know the other people in the videos, either. Still they say your names, look into the camera like it’s your eyes, and present an identical message. In fifty-two separate videos, people we know only by first name – Youngmi, Samantha, Melissa, Javier -speak to us. Their names and personalities imbue the uniform script with individuality, introducing nuance and spark into the repeated phrase. Two teenage girls in an acting class smile for the camera like a school picture; a doorman hurries through the words from behind his desk, punctuating the last phrase with his hand; a man in a green tee-shirt conjures surprisingly sincere emotion. The messages’ differences remind us that even amidst apparent sameness, we are all unique.

Cedolia is a New-York based video artist whose background is in acting. His solo work and his projects with peoplmovr, an artist collaborative he formed with Geoffrey Scott, reflect his desire to reach people within their everyday situations, outside the traditional theater venue. “A message for you” can be understood as “social practice,” also known as “relational aesthetics,” a genre of art that takes social relations as both its subject and form. Recontextualized within the realm of aesthetics, social relationships become representations of themselves, playful reflections that leave room for possibility in a way “real” social interactions often don’t.


Prominent practitioners of social practice include Harrell Fletcher, whom Cedolia cites as an influence. One of Fletcher’s best known projects is the participatory Web site, “Learning to Love You More.” The site, conceived and created by Fletcher and video artist and writer Miranda July, posts simple instructions: take a flash photograph beneath your bed, write your life story in a day, draw a constellation from someone’s freckles. The site’s users post their assignments online, creating a personal and startling virtual gallery. Like Cedolia’s work for The Present Group, Fletcher and July’s project disperses identical instructions among a diverse population and revels in the range, subjectivity, and intimacy of the responses.

“A message for you” explores the possibility of cultivating intimacy within the city’s anonymity. Filmed in New York City, the phrases’ repetition mirror the numerous interactions among strangers involved in the work’s production and reception. The artist first introduced himself to people he had only seen, never spoken to, and explained his work. “New Yorkers give you about five seconds to ask them something before they move on so I had to be brief,” he recalled. He told them he was working on a video about New York residents; he told them the sentences he wanted them to say. Participants then addressed strangers with words normally used for loved ones. Eventually Present Group subscribers watch the videos, surprised to hear someone they’ve never seen or met say their name with such familiarity.

With each interaction, the relationship between intimacy and anonymity is reconfigured, and the alienation of urban life is temporarily disrupted. The seemingly faceless crowd is composed of individuals with whom sincere and unique connections are always possible. Even today, even in the city, in a building lobby or bland cubicle. Even between two people who have never met. This, as much as the spoken words, is “A message for you”s real message.



Victoria Gannon is an Oakland-based freelance writer who recently earned her masters degree in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. She enjoys writing about art, cultural and personal geographies, and the frequent intersections between the two. She recently collaborated with Oakland filmmaker and fellow CCA alum Michael Goodier on “Love Lafayette.” The 11-minute film is based on her essay about the East Bay suburb in which she grew up. Gannon’s master’s thesis investigated informal day laborer hiring sites within the context of their surrounding landscapes.

Annotated Links

Video Art and its History

video art via wikipedia. a good brief history a great source to view any artist working with film or video as a medium is trying to set standards for how video art can be viewed, purchased, and distributed, while trying to increase the visibility of video art and its artists on a whole.

History of video art: A show entitled “California Video” examines the history and survival of the medium in California

Dance or Theatre as Art

sharp elbow- home to the works of Tori Sparks. Read her interview in Trace Magazine, when she was named one of “seven of todays best modern dancers”.

Catherine Sullivan: Sullivan was trained in both visual and performing arts, and the works she creates are truly hybrid, freely crossing boundaries and mixing disciplines. She has explored different theatrical and performative conventions, from the popular stage play and musical to the historical drama, from postmodern dance to Fluxus performance.

Aaron is inspired by

Bas Jan Ader : conceptual artist from the early 70′s, little known in his time but widely recognized as an influential figure in video, conceptual and performance art.

Harrell Fletcher: Harrell Fletcher has worked collaboratively and individually on a variety of socially engaged, interdisciplinary projects for over a decade.

CINE: CiNE was founded in 2003 to examine the conditions of spectacle and spectatorship across a wide range of media.

Other Artist utilizing Simple Gestures in Conceptual Art

David Horovitz: He takes pictures of sunsets, he’ll go on a walk with you, he’ll do different things if you give him different amounts of money. He writes a lot of instructions.

Miranda July: Enjoying a wide swath of fame and recognition lately, July keeps on keeping on, making loads of work, publishing books, and showing all over the world.


Please use this space to share your thoughts on the work, ideas it brings up, anything you want to talk about.

Our first space!

Sure it’s only for one day, but you gotta start somewhere.



We’re starting in Old Oakland. Where?

465 9th street (9th & Broadway), Oakland. September 5th, 2008, 5-10PM. We’ll be showing TPG7 as well as an (almost) two year Present Group Retrospective. Here’s some more info.

posted: August 29, 2008

Web hosting that supports artists.


  • TPG21
  • TPG20
  • TPG19
  • TPG18
  • TPG17
  • TPG16
  • TPG15
  • TPG14
  • TPG13
  • TPG12
  • TPG11
  • TPG10
  • TPG9
  • TPG8
  • TPG7
  • TPG6
  • TPG5
  • TPG4
  • TPG3
  • TPG2
  • TPG1

Lego Hello World
I wish all my printers were made of legos.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Images from Life Magazine going back to 1860′s, hosted by Google

Coming Face To Face With The President
Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron
A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Notes on Portraiture in the Facebook Age

Celebrity Book Club: A List to End All Lists
Because, well, it’s sortof awesome.

Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary?
The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

This to That
You tell it what you’ve got and it’ll tell you what to glue them together with.

Work of art: Online store for buyers, sellers
Not the TV show!  Kelly Lynn Jones from Little Paper Planes is interviewed on her project, gives us a cheat sheet to local affordable art resources.

How to make a Daft Punk helmet in 17 months