MinXus Mail Bag: Conceptual Copy Art by Ana Kawajiri (Brasilia, Brazil)

Mail art by Ana Kawajiri (Brasilia, Brazil)

The mail art movement was at the forefront of experimentation with and circulation of copyart. Copyart is deeply associated with at least one Golden Age of mail art (in the 70s & 80s) when breathtaking material was generated en masse. Only now, thanks to the internet, are we beginning to see the wealth of extraordinary copyart previously hidden away in archives and collections. Much more is waiting to be rediscovered. I hope mail art’s connection to copyart will be noted in history; it is a great and important contribution.

So I always like to receive mail art that incorporates the copyart aesthetic, especially when it transcends nostalgia and shows innovation. Ana Kawajiri has sent this wonderful piece of contemporary copyart she made that integrates collage and concept art as well. The work was likely done on a digital scanner, but it could just as well have been done on a photocopy machine.

Copyart is far from dead if (and there are likely purists who object) we allow the scanner has mostly taken the place of the Xerox photocopy machine. Mail artists and visual poets especially are producing innovative work with scanners that is being posted online and circulated via snail mail. I see this as an extension of the copyart movement.

Unfortunately, some members of the Mail Art Nouveaux crowd are very vocal about their disdain for sending copies through the mail. They even claim that sending copies is against mail art ethics and values and an insult. They discourage mailing copies with stiff rebuffs. While I understand the desire for authenticity, this is simply not the case and perhaps damaging when it comes to copyart. Their views, to me, are misguided. Many major mail art icons have distributed, literally, thousands of photocopies and now scans. And this is not taking into consideration zine and micropress materials dating back decades. If someone wants to mail copies, I believe they should do so without condemnation. (Copyart is often, ironically, one-of-a-kind).

 

Pertaining to Ana Kawajiri’s excellent work and my own contentions, it is logical to ask what I mean by “copyart aesthetic.” Ana’s work reveals, in my opinion, a fine use of the inherited aesthetic. It is immediately familiar to me and welcome.

I believe the aesthetics of copyart involve the distortions and effects produced (sometimes manipulated) in the copy process. The primary mode is distortion of text and image. These effects often appear randomly. We also have smears and overlays, which are more calculated. Thus, copyart has a relation to contemporary glitch art and principles of chance operations too. In this case, Ana Kawajiri has produced some very interesting textual distortion we might consider asemic:

 

The play of the human hands on the scanner bed and the collage hands is a wonderful meditation on representation. I call the piece conceptual as well due to its emphasis on touch, the tactile and the materiality of art.

For me, Ana Kawajiri offers a brilliant explanation for why mail art thrives today and will continue to persist, in the digital age. First, the network gives us the human connections we need and crave; without them the art is meaningless. Ana draws our attention to the importance of the tactile and other senses; art is not and cannot be strictly visual. While we can review thousands of scans online, I believe that practice is ultimately unfulfilling. We desire the materiality of art and its connection to others. This is not to be equated with a desire for ownership but more the deeply rooted material nature of culture as expression and kinship. Put another way, we seek art in life and life in art. The modern world has disrupted the ancient continuum. Ana Kawajiri, miraculously, brings harmony to the discordant elements.

Many thanks to Ana Kawajiri!

 

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: D-Kit by Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA)

Mail art by Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA)

As I have asked before: What would the Karnival of Trash be without work by the raining Queen of Trash(po)? Luckily, Diane Keys has been exceedingly generous about sharing work. (Actually at one point she demanded a hefty payment, but she relented.) I am thrilled to be able to exhibit new work from Elgin especially rich in DKult memorabilia and promotional materials. Prepare to feast your eyes upon an absolutely classic Kulter treasure trove.

And the envelope:

Many thanks to Diane Keys!

 

 

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: Classic DharmaDaDa Trashpo by Azzaro (Auckland, New Zealand)

Mail art by Azzaro (Auckland, New Zealand)

An interesting twist in the final days of the Karnival of Trash is the appearance of work from New Zealand, a location which has hardly been a center of Kulter activity (although Australia has made magnificent contributions). Veteran Kulters and trashpoets will immediately identify the crushed can as a trademark of the great (and controversial) trashpoet, Dadaist and honorary graduate of Black Mountain College Erni Baer. However, I doubt newer generations are even aware of Erni’s contributions or the Fan Club Wars or other related events that transpired in the Eternal Network. Regardless, Azzaro has hit the mark perfectly with this piece, IMHO. Other work was included.

Another:

The contents are just FAB in terms of the KoT, and the work also has a very strong envelope, making this a 100% mail art masterpiece:

Many thanks to Azzaro!!!

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: Trainpo by Rebecca Guyver (Suffolk, UK)

Mail art by Rebecca Guyver (Suffolk, UK)

I am thrilled to finally document this piece by legendary DKULTUK member Rebecca Guyver. I have followed the DKult Doodle Therapy craze she initiated with great interest, and I believe here we have an example of a superb solo piece. Sometimes, and this is subjective I realize, I see slightly ominous caricatures of the bourgeoisie in Rebecca’s therapeutic pieces. The fact that this was composed on a train is interesting as well. Do any networkers recall when travel mail art was all the rage? People went on trips and attempted to send pieces from any location where they intersected with a mailbox. Spontaneous, cryptic works were plentiful and flying then. Anyway, the reverse side:

This would be the Trashpo B-side. Rebecca Guyver is known for her work (obsession) with plasticizing and wrapping mail art. This was a beautifully wrapped piece, so I documented that stage of its evolution as well:

As ever, thanks to Rebecca Guyver!

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: Authentic New Zealand Trashpo by Gerda Osteneck (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Gerda - 4.16.2017 - 1

Mail art by Gerda Osteneck (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Gerda Osteneck is known in the Eternal Network as a Canadian trashpoet and devoted member of DKULTCAN (DKult-Canada). Her recent adventures in New Zealand are well-documented elsewhere. This journey gave her the opportunity to explore new dumpsters and litter-ature. Thus, the Karnival of Trash is able to exhibit for the first time (I think) Trashpo composed of indigenous New Zealand refuse. Gerda Osteneck’s aesthetic as well as sewing abilities make this a masterpiece.

As with the presentation of much Trashpo, it is possible I’ve presented the work upside-down (even though I’ve puzzled over the possibilities for some time). If so, here is a view of the main New Zealand section from another angle:

Gerda - 4.26.2017 - 3.JPG

And the reverse:

Deepest thanks to Gerda Osteneck!

 

 

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: Original Copy by Mikel Untzilla (Euskadi)

Mail art by Mikel Untzilla (Euskadi – Spain)

As part of the Karnival of Trash, I am thrilled to share this wonderful visual-textual work by Mikel Untzilla of Euskadi. (This is the legendary Basque Country of Northern Spain.) The Karnival of Trash has attracted much incredible work from artists and visual poets in Spain. This is a great honor and fascinating to see the work being created in this part of the world.

“ORIGINAL COPY” certainly provides a thematic center for the work. While it is great visual poetry, Mikel Untzilla incorporates found material and chance operations that show an affinity to Trashpo. The calligraphy also brings us into the asemic realm:

Many thanks to Mikel Untzilla!

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: Haptic Trashpo by Ferran Destemple (Barcelona, Spain)

Mail art by Ferran Destemple (Barcelona, Spain)

Party on intrepid karnival-goers! The Karnival of Trash will continue (with some interruptions) into the Summer of 2017. Important work remains to be documented before the greatest show on earth officially closes.

Here is a FAB postcard-size piece from Ferran Destemple of Barcelona. He is an active networker who produces excellent visual poetry as well as art. He seems to have some allegiance to Fluxus. Check him out if you are not already familiar:

http://ferrandestemple.blogspot.com/

Ferran Destemple is a talented and thoughtful visual poet. I am thrilled that he would turn his considerable abilities to an exploration of Trashpo (which is, after all, a form of vispo). The stapled fragments give the work a Frankentrash, sewn quality. We are in the realm of anti-art.

Even if not intentional, this is a piece that functions as well on the tactile level as it does on the visual. Exploring its contours with the fingers is an interesting, sometimes disarming experience. Thus we have a rare, but not unprecedented, example of Haptic Trashpo. Moan Lisa (Iowa, USA) has also pioneered the use of staples in Trashpo. Here we have another fine example.

Deepest thanks to Ferran Destemple for this outstanding contribution to the KoT!