The Septa Letters Book_L.RYWELSKI©2004

The Septa Letters is the documentation of situations as performed on Philadelphia’s SEPTA rail. Situations are initiated by passing a simple handwritten letter to a passenger that stands out to me. The letter is signed with an email address. When written to, fellow passengers construct a select panorama of their lives.

The Septa Letters were complied over the course of one year and printed as a column in The Philadelphia Independent.  The Septa Letters performance included action controls: No verbal exchange to or near the passenger. Letter must be kind and handwritten. Do not respond to emails in effort to preserve an identity. (2004)

You know when someone just stands out to you? How do you approach the person and communicate with them without disrupting that moment? The Septa Letters is about that, but like the way a stream of consciousness story tells the listener more about the story-teller than the story, so does The Septa Letters– as a performance, in attempting anonymity, that is documented and represented in a linear way. The Septa Letters becomes a portrait of the artist through the eyes of the other, and the tool that is Google.

The Septa Letters

Below are excerpts from the book.

Performed on SEPTA subway and trains
Documented by Liz Rywelski and The Philadelphia Independent
Edited by Matt Schwartz, Loren Hunt, and Liz Rywelski
Book Design & Concept by Liz Rywelski
Layout and Content Design by Anthony Smyrski, Smyrski Creative (now Random Embassy)
Compiled Series Published by FREENEWSPROJECTS, Edition of 500

Sold at Printed Matter.org and FREENEWSPROJECTS

Limited Edition of 10, signed and containing a SEPTA token by LR


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The Septa Letters Book_L.RYWELSKI©2004
Available at


This collection of letters was first published as a column titled, The Septa Letter’s, in The Philadelphia Independent, from January 2004 through to TPI‘s final issue in February 2005. I would like to thank the industrious Matt Schwartz and Jacob Weinstein for their dedication to good idea’s. My risky habit of needing to know details behind the source of what attracts would have never made it to words if not for their faith in long hours, fine work, and good reading. -LR