MinXus Mail Bag: Ghost Ship A&P + ATCs by Karen Wood (Big Bear Lake, California, USA)

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Add and pass sheet (circa 2004) sent by Karen Wood (Big Bear Lake, California, USA)

A heartfelt “Howdy!” and secret Mink Ranch handshake are extended to Tenderfoot Karen Wood of Big Bear Lake who graces these humble pages for the first time.

Reading some sea stories lately, it occurred to me that Add & Pass sheets can sometimes be like the mysterious ghost ships of fiction. Some Add & Pass sheets never return home or reach a designated port. They drift, uncharted around the world. As in this case (and aided by the internet), they can resurface years or sometimes even decades later carrying a partial tale of their travels. But the narrative can never fully be known.

Karen Wood sent me this Add & Pass sheet that appears to have been most active circa 2003-4: many years ago. The contributing artists are mostly French. I like to think I am familiar with networkers (although complete knowledge is not possible for anyone). I do not recognize these names! Thus, in addition to admiring a classic A&P, I am left wondering about its story. Should I send it back to France after more than a decade?

Karen Wood also sent some examples of her own work. They strike me as working as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), but they are not really limited to that category either.

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Mail art by Karen Wood (Big Bear Lake, California, USA)

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Deepest thanks to Karen Wood!

 

 

MinXus Mail Bag: Glam by Bonniediva (Gurnee, Illinois, USA)

Mail art by Bonniediva (Gurnee, Illinois, USA)

A huge “Howdy!” and a MinXus secret handshake are extended to the talented Bonniediva, originally from New Orleans but now living outside Chicago USA. We are so fortunate to be able to display this FAB collage on M-L, your faithful connection to all the important stirrings of the Eternal Network fit to “print.”

We settled on calling this work “glam.” In actuality, the fair Bonniediva defies artistic categories. She’s a little vintage, a little retro, a little Pop, a little DaDa and mostly none of the above. At first – when we saw the Gurnee, Illinois address (but not the collage) – we assumed this was yet another Diane Keys impersonator (many of them about these days!) or a Diane Keys prank. But again, Bonniediva proves to be a total original with no connection to the Kulter hordes. Keep an eye on her. We intuit another network star!

Bike-a-delic! Thank you, Bonniediva.

 

MinXus Mail Bag: Mail Art by Sa Mue (Bremen, Germany)

Mail art by Sa Mue (Bremen, Germany)

I am thrilled to offer a wink and a secret MinXus handshake to new correspondent Sa Mue of Bremen, Germany. As far as I know, Sa Mue is a newcomer to the Eternal Network, although she is clearly an accomplished artist. We’re seeing examples of her work at a number of venues. Check this:

http://www.samue-kunst.de/

As you can see from this beautiful work here at M-L, she is already receiving some well-deserved raves and faves from friends. The reverse side is a little more “political.” (M-a has been political for a long time):

Sa Mue certainly “gets” mail art. The envelope is wonderful:

Welcome and deepest thanks to Sa Mue!

Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: It’s A Wonderful Trashpo by Rafael Gonzalez (Tenerife, Spain)

Mail art by Rafael Gonzalez (Tenerife, Spain)

Network fave and veteran Rafael Gonzalez has expressed allegiance to DKult in the past, and it is wonderful to have this celebratory piece for the Karnival of Trash. The work is placed on a large envelope, torn in half. Even if there is a suggestion of “art” here, I assure you that if you were to view the actual piece, you would share my view that this is sublime Trashpo.

Thank you Rafael Gonzalez!

 

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Karnival of Trash Mail Art Call: DESTROY Kitty Trashpo by Dopesick San Francisco (DSF) (Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA)

Mail art by Dopesick San Francisco (DSF) aka Michael Kelly (Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA)

DSF and Karina the Dog have proven to be key contributors to the Karnival of Trash, which I think it is fair to say has surpassed everyone’s expectations. And here is another great DSF piece that follows in the wake of my recent rant (elsewhere) about the dangers of mailing food to networkers.

I believe DSF has taken a real post-pop turn on this one, and has done it very well.

Check out the ingredients:

And the envelope:

Many thanks to DSF!

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!