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you can also have a look on the 'public' thoughts about mail-art that are online:

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18

or have a look at the other secret thoughts online:

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 .

SECRET THOUGHTS ABOUT MAIL ART - PART-1

BY RUUD JANSSEN

This is the first list of thoughts that are supposed to be secret. There might follow more lists! Every now and then I have these thoughts when I think of mail-art. Now you have the luck to read some of these thoughts. The thoughts are listed by the dates that they are thought of. The last thoughts come first and the list will be updated very regularely with the mail art I get in.....

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Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn't changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine where the text is included in, is sent to TAM.

30-09-1997 : What is mail art? A major art movement , a joke , a medium in which all kind of creative people are working together, who knows what it is.....? Some mail artists build up their work in the network so much that it almost seems like a joke. Others remain realistic but in fact do a lot of intersting things. But when something is written about mail art by a mail artist I always get a bit uncertain. The active mail artists know what is being done in the network. But what is the view of outsiders....? Are there any large publications about mail art written by not participants in the mail art community? Even the students who start with a thesis on mail art as an insider mostly have to rely on sources from inside the network. And once they have started with their research they atomatically become mail artists because they have to contact these mail artists and to get their attention the mail they sent gets more creative by the months the research passes by. I've seen it happen several times. If someone knows of a publication about mail art written by a non mail artists, please let me know. I am very interested in these things.

29-09-1997 : Some mail artists like to call themselves artists. The term artist is always a difficult one. Galleries only call persons artists when they are (or are able to) selling their art. The Gallery system is there to make money. Mail art isn't sold or bought (at least that is/was the intention). So if a mail artists starts to ask money for his mail art, or makes mail art to hang in galleries, there is a problem. I then call him/her an artist that has to make a living out of his art. Mail artist normally don't do that. They have a paid (part-time of full-time) job to pay for the postage, and spend a lot of time on their mail-art. So for the gallery-system the mail artists aren't real artists. But that is the whole concept of mail art. Avoid the official art-circuit and send art to the really interested people.

O.K. Maybe start to play with the official art-world, let them sponsor a show, or even pay for the printing and sending of a catalogue. But where is the line? Every mail artist likes a beautiful catalogue doesn't he/she? Some mail artists start to be purist about this theme. Others just mix money and mail art. But what is the problem. There are no rules in mail art are there?

28-09-1997 : Two zines (small-press , limited edition magazines) arrived yesterday. I always like these zines, maybe because I also have produced lots of them myself. It costs money to produce these zines, and the principle "mail art & money don't mix" sometimes comes between the paying for a subsription. I notice the same with my mail interviews because even after 2 years I only have 7 subscribers. Everybody wants to exchange publications, or some even want all for free and just ask for it (even well known 'famous' mail-artists do so). But with all the exchanges I do and the zines I send out for free, the costs & energy connected to the publishing isn't covered.

Most editors don't mind because they really like what they do. I do subscribe to the zines I like, and the one I got yesterday (Lime Green News #16 , edited by Carol Substitute , P.O. Box 771 , Florissant MO 63032-0771, USA , e-mail : Lime Green News ) was interesting enough to subscribe to (only $12 for 5 issues outside the USA , inside the USA $9). In the zine world it is quite common to subscribe. If only more mail artists would subscribe to mail art zines, there would be more quality mail art zines out there.......

The cover of the LGN #16 was available online at the site that Carol Substitute has online, so I put it here beside this text. If you click it you are at her site in a flash. Also you can e-mail her for reactions or to ask for details about how to subscribe now.

27-09-1997 : Don't believe everything that your read or see. It is something everybody learns at a certain moment in his/her life. Even the date I wrote this text isn't the 27th of September. I wrote it on the 26th but made it look like it was the 27th. But who would have known that if he/she reads it after the 27th if I hadn't told it. These secret thoughts are fun, I won't be too seriously here and say what I sometime better shouldn't have said. In mail art there are a lot of people who present themselves as someone, but turn out to be someone completely different in real life. It is funny, but you have to realize it when you read a story from or about someone. I will try to be myself. That is difficult enough.

26-09-1997 : Today again, I receive such a piece of mail art. An envelope with one or two stamps on it, a postage stamp, and the content is a xeroxed artwork. In my eyes this isn't mail art. There is no message nor any personal touch to it. So I know I am not going to answer this. Maybe I am not even going to save it. 17 years of mail art has made me a bit selective to what I call mail art or not. The definition that everything is (can be) (mail) art was good when Marcel Duchamp dealt with it. I expect more from someone who contacts me......

25-09-1997 : Sometimes I wonder why I am spending so much time and energy on all this mail-art. Why communicate with so many people in so many countries......... But I must admit that I have found the most interesting people in my life through the mail art network......I must admit that I travel a lot because of this mail art network. It is always a surprise what the network brings to you.

This list started suddenly, and everytime I have one of those thoughts and can go online I will put the thought to the list. As it looks now, I will probably start a new series of thoughts. The secret thoughts that only few write about...... The game has started. It is also possible that I react on snail-mail this way, and will send a print-out of these secret thoughts to the person who wrote me. In principle these thoughts are online only. But maybe I might distribute some prints via snail-mail. You, as a reader, can do the same as well, and you are even encouraged to do so, or to publish these secrets. What more fun is there to do then publish secrets?

copyright TAM 1997 reactions to : webmaster IUOMA / TAM


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