Mail Art

This was a concept I came across while flipping through Hans Ulrich Obrist’s book a very long time ago. Walter Zanini talked about On Kawara’s items on one of the exhibitions he curated. I honestly had no definite conclusion of what mail art is, what is the diference between postcard design and really an art in the world of correspondence.

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Mail art refers to small-scale operations that use mail as a distribution system between artists. This also include artist-designed stamps, postcards, and texts. First postal network of artists was launched in 1962 . Its overall results were shown in the show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1970.

Mail artists are rarely have a place in museums, but it is one of the most popular art forms in history. Instead of creating objects and find a place to display them, artists just mail postage. Mail art exhibitions featured different topics ranging from political opposition to the war in Vietnam to letters dedicated to the theory of art and to comics books. The goals of mail art remind actually of Fluxus, which provided us footage of artists correspondence. Unusual works of art in mail were produced by conceptual artists such as On Kawara, who was sending stamped cards with inscriptions of location and the time he got up every morning for many years, and Tom Marioni. The text is an equal part of a letter as a stamp or a postcard or a concept of the whole thing.

The idea of art is indefinite; there is no guidelines of what is, and what is not. This makes the boundaries of art nonexistent and our minds are able to roam free. There are artists, who create mail art, but if you actually think about it, none of them really know why their pieces like daily correspondence could be categorized as art.

So are we actually clueless of what we are creating?

Polina Brzhezinskaya

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