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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MAIL ART - PART-3
BY RUUD JANSSEN
ISSM : TAM950089
MAIL ART IS A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
- When I write about mail art, then I write about what it means to me. I write about the aspects I have learned and the things that interest me.
- Mail art has to do with communication. Mail art has to do with exchange of ideas, thoughts, artistic expressions.
- Because I am now already 15 years active with mail art I thought it would be interesting to tell about some nice experiences I had in mail art. Just write them down before I forget about them.
NICE THINGS TO SEND BY MAIL
- When you are working inside the mail art network you have received lots of things, and the normal letter and xerox sometimes aren't that interesting anymore. To get the attention of a mail artists it is sometimes necessary to send some real mail-gifts.
- I once sent an air-balloon (to Guy Bleus in Belgium). It was blown up partly, and on the label I attached a label where I wrote the address on and put the stamp. Because the balloon was not that large I could fit it through the mail-box opening. To my surprise the balloon arrived unharmed at the sender-address. The postmen who were carrying this piece of mail art must have been surprised.
- Once I mailed a transparent plastic 1,5 liter bottle (to Rod Summers in Holland). I put some stickers and tape around the bottle, where I could write the address and attach the postage stamps. Inside the bottle I put some confetti and a letter which was rolled up. It was like one of those bottles people throw into the sea when they land on a deserted island. Of course the bottle arrived unharmed in Maastricht. Rod Summers in return sent me something very nice too. He made a photo-serie of what he tried to do with the bottle, and made a photo-booklet of it. I still show this to mail- artists who sometimes visit me as an example of what mail art can be like.
- Once I send an example of datacommunication by phone via mail. It was a part of a (broken down) telephone-machine. A label was attached to it with address and stamps. I guess I like to send out that crazy mail sometimes, but I know it is fun and strange to receive that too.
NICE THINGS TO RECEIVE BY MAIL
- From San Francisco I once received a wooden postcard for Christmas. The size of the postcard was 50x50 centimeter, and it was wrapped in colored paper too. The postage on this piece was about 40 dollar, and it is still one of my most precious pieces of mail. It came from James Hill, who also sent me wonderful music and all kind of other strange gadgets (one of his hats I sometimes wear at a performance). This large wooden postcard was fully stamped with rubber stamps on one side. I used this wood to make an oil-painting on the other side which is hanging now on my wall. When I explain other artists or guests about this painting, I always show them the backside of the painting and explain the story. Thanks to the darkness of the wall, the colors of stampprints are still good....
- Drew Duncan from Canada send me once a calendar on a tin can, a 1 liter can it was. It was a color-xerox with also my address and the postage stamps on the cover. Inside the can there was a letter and some other gadgets. I met Drew once when he was in Holland and I visited Amsterdam while he was there. Unfortunately the contact broke because Drew stopped with mail art.
- Patricia Collins from England send a beautiful donation to my rubberstamp archive. It was a set of pencils where she used the eraser-end to carve the complete alphabeth out of them.
CONTROVERSIAL THINGS TO SEND BY MAIL
- Chain-letters. I know lots of people hate them, throw them away, or ignore them. I just collect them, and thereby break the chain. I have a collection of 700 letters so far. Sometimes I do take part in such a chain-letter for a very simple reason. I have noticed that mail artists use older chain-letters as a sender-list for their new chain- letters. They guess that they are the persons that are willing to take part in a chain. I also must admit that I am fascinated by the chain of addresses that grow on such chain-letters. Especially if the addresses are of people I know, it is always interesting to see how the connection is made.
- Simple xeroxes. I know that it is the easiest way to make mail, but after so many years the message on the xerox should be very interesting because otherwise I mostly ignore these things or use them as writing-paper. But on the other hand, the personalized xeroxes are very interesting. And the color-xeroxes are always fascinating. I treasure the color-xeroxes I receive from Stangroom and Greenfield, and they show the wonderful art they are doing.
- Requests. Yes, I get lots of those. Please send me this and that. Even in a plain envelope, a small note, asking for a bunch of material. Mail art is exchange. If you want something nice, send out something nice. There will always be a balance between what you send and receive. The more energy you send into the network to mail artists, the more energy they will share with you.
NICE TO MEET MAIL ARTISTS
- Yes, it is mostly nice to meet mail artists. They can visit you, you can visit them, you can meet them in a place which is new for both of you.
- I had all sorts of meetings. I visited the mail-art congresses in 1986, the tourism year initiated by H.R. Fricker and Günther Ruch. The most interesting meeting was at the Media in Belgium, where over 30 mail artists came together. Also the Congresses in 1992 were a historic time, it became the year where I had the largest amount of travels ever in my life so far.
- Mail artists visited me, mail art friends from inside the Netherlands, Germany, USA, Estonia. The shortest visit was when Peter Küstermann and Angela brought me the mail for the Post-mailmen year. It lasted less then an hour, and that made the meeting very intense because there were so many things to do.
- I traveled to lots of countries where I always meet mail artists. I went to Belgium, France, Italy, Estonia, Russia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England. Many more people I would like to visit, but there aren't that many vacation-times as I would like. All my travels so far were inside Europe, but next year this hopefully will change when I will be going to the USA for the first time.
ISOLATION IN MAIL ART?
- When I make my mail art I am mostly alone. I need the time and space to concentrate fully on the pieces of mail I am working on. For the writing of letters and postcards that isn't so important. I can do that at any place I am. In fact I enjoy sending out mail from the places where I am during my travels.
- I don't feel isolated. I live in a medium-sized town, Tilburg has 160,000 inhabitants and I live almost in the center. The mail art I receive and send out makes me feel like I am in a small center somewhere in the world, rather then the center of a city or a country. I think globally and not locally. So mail art removes the isolation most of the time.
- But sometimes I feel disconnected. In some countries they don't have the money to spend on mail. I know that some friends in those countries aren't able to reply to my mail, they just can't afford it. In spite of all wishes, the mail then gets less although I keep writing even if I don't get replies.
- There are also whole large parts of our world where there is no networker connected to mail art. In Africa I know only a few mail artists, and I know they aren't able to send out much mail.
date of WWW-version: 2-8-1997
there are also secret thoughtspublished on this site.......
Ruud Janssen - TAM
5000 JJ Tilburg
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updated version: 2-8-1997
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