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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MAIL ART - PART-7
THIS IS THE 7TH "THOUGHTS" THAT I WRITE. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE OTHER SIX ARTICLES, JUST SEND ME A NOTE MENTIONING WHICH ARTICLE (-S) YOU ARE MISSING AND SOME IRC'S FOR THE COSTS FOR MAILING THE ARTICLES. THIS 7TH ARTICLE IS AN ARTICLE I WROTE FOR THE MUSEUM IN SCHWERIN, GERMANY, AND DEALS WITH THE MAIL ART FROM EASTERN- EUROPE.
ISSM : TAM960120
This text is written for the "Staatliches Museum Schwerin" for their show on mail art in Eastern Europe, and was published in their documentation. (March 1996, by Ruud Janssen, Netherlands)
MAIL ART FROM EASTERN EUROPE IN WESTERN EUROPE.
- Before I even started with mail art I was already corresponding with friends all over the world since I was a child. Only in 1980 I started with the sending of creative mail, and in 1983 I got connected to the international mail art network. Of course it is a reach into the world, and especially also to those places one never has been, the places that seemed unreachable, and that is probably the reason why I also started making contacts with Eastern European mail artists. The normal media always gave their views about Eastern Europe, but making direct contact of course tells a lot more. The wall that was separating Eastern Europe from us seemed to be opened for my mail, and the mail I got in return taught me a lot. People are basically the same everywhere, and for expressing oneself, human beings are always very creati ve.
- In Eastern Europe this creativity couldn't be broken by making it impossible for some artists (by the government) to print things in/by official institutes. Artists used their other tools for publishing. Instead of the photocopy, so much used in western europe and the USA, the mail artists in Eastern Europe used the photo, the rubber stamp and other techniques as their tools to print. They made etchings and printed sets of them. The state couldn't control the freedom to express oneself by just forbid ding the printing. Lucky enough the Eastern system subsidized the postal rates incredible, so this way for communication was not impossible for artists. Although most artists were not able to travel freely, their thoughts were sent out through the mail art network and eventually did reach the world. But I remember that it was never sure if a piece of mail would arrive. There was always the possibility for censorship, for the 'getting lost' of mail when it looked 'dangerous' for the state.
- For some artist, the mail art network was a way to keep in touch with the rest of the world, to let them know their thoughts and views too, to show the rest of the world how it was to live in the communistic part of the world, and that they were cared about the whole earth as well.
- When the wall fell down, also most contacts vanished. Several reasons, as one can expect. The creative outlet through the mail wasn't the only way anymore. Other ways to express ideas, to publish ones work, were open. Even the possibilities to travel and to emigrate came about. The postal rates were increased to western standards, but the salaries for the inhabitants of Eastern European countries didn't follow this increasing. Lots of mail artist lost contact with the mail art network, and this was sometimes not their choice. Survival comes before art most of the time.
- Quite a coincidence was that the last wall, the iron curtain around the USSR, also vanished quite suddenly in August 1991. Just while I was there to meet some of my mail art friends, the coup in Russia took place. But although that time might seem far away, the world is still a turbulent place to live in. The mail art makes us think globally instead of locally. We all live on the same planet and just have to communi cate to keep on living.
there are also secret thoughts published on this site.......
Ruud Janssen - TAM
5000 JJ Tilburg
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 / P.O.Box 10388 / 5000 JJ Tilburg / NETHERLANDS.
updated version: 26-6-1997
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