At about 2am, two guys showed up with a big plastic produce container and invited people to their "office" (empty vegetable stand) and had them sit on produce boxes while they issued them a new end of the year report card. I wasn't quite sure what I'm getting into, but being drunk and excited for the success of the event, I just did. First, they asked me if there was any school year that was somewhat hard for me. I remember thinking for a few minutes since I had many years I'd like to "fix", many moments during my schooling years that were full of shame, sadness, lack of self-esteem and true friendships. I've decided to share with them my first grade experience (I wrote about this unusual semi-sexual experience here).
Soon after sharing this pretty traumatic episode with them I was issued a new report card, in which I was described as a wonderful kid, that no one should disturb him from developing exactly as he already is doing. A lovely and creative child who is perfect just the way he is. Besides getting straight A's in all of the classes (both semesters) I was sent into the next grade - freedom, and I wasn't aloud to attend the class of boredom and fixedness. I was described as a child who fulfills his huge potential and that I can deal with life challenges in the best way possible. I got sent early to second grade out of love (and not out of my first grade teacher's issues around fucking) and with faith that I'd keep discovering my true self.
I couldn't stop thanking them. It might have been the most meaningful artwork I've ever participated in and I can't overestimate how much it affected me as a person, a teacher, a parent and an artist. Yes, art can be deep and serious and sad and many other things, but it can also, using very simple tools, make people happy and empowered and explore the boundaries between "art", "loving-kindness", "therapy" and "humanity". I'm not even sure if these two guys considered what they did as art. I don't remember their names but I would never look at my first grade experience the same way after revisiting it with them. I don't know if I still have my report card from first grade, but this report card will stay in my heart forever. I heard a theory that our memory is kind of tricky - if we tell ourselves a story many times, we remember it. If I'd tell myself this alternative story about me as a child, my mind or subconscious might consider it a reality. So why not telling ourselves, sometimes at least, alternative versions of our past?
Inspired by this work, I'm offering an experimental service - if you believe that you (or someone you know) did something special and positive and never got acknowledged for it, or had a bad experience like I had and you'd like to revisit that experience with an alternative version, Alfassi Books can issue a certificate/diploma/report card made especially for you. If you're interested in such service, please email me and we can schedule a video call to discuss that and figure out what needed to be issued. I also starting an international network of clerks who'll issue such certificates. I made certificates in many different languages and Alfassi Books agents are ready to issue them to people who need them all around the world or through Skype. As with the letters project, all certificates can be confidential or can be used for documentation of the project, like adding them to a booklet or to this website, depending on that participant's choice. I'm very much excited by this artistic opportunity. As with all of Alfassi Books services, this one too is based on the gift economy model. If you'd like to issue a certificate or become an agent who issue certificates to others, there is no cost involved and the certificates can be sent to you by mail. You can either choose to help cover the costs of the project with a PayPal donation (click here) or give some of your time/money/talent to another cause you'd like to support.
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