Each of these three pieces of mailart didn't strike me as mailart at first glance, so I wonder why that is.
Reed Altemus is a talented copy artist, even in such times as these when copy art is less common that it was during the 1980s and early 1990s. So when I received a small flat, sans note, from him yesterday (Friday, August 13th), I was pleased. It included a book of poems he and John M. Bennett collaborated on in 2001 (Yr Cream Dip) and a few sheets of folded paper. But what were those sheets?
One is a green sheet of paper with a photocopy of an advertisment for "the first multi-purpose photocopy duplicator!" Strangely, Reed has scored the sheet as if it's a sheet of artist's stamps. Well, that was my hint to see this as mailart, but it took me another day. Even the titled photograph of Reed Altemus & Luc Fierens on a "Fluxpedition along the Rhine" wasn't a good enough hint. But the overprinted multi-colored, perforated sheet, signed and released in an edition of 15, well, that finally made me understand.
Reed Altemus, Perforated Copyart?
The I's Have It
I must say, I never think of my friend endwar as a mailartist. But what else can I make of a guy who sends me a postcard of what appears to be a found visual poem? especially when he adds a little visual poem on the letter i on the reverse. This poem, "decapitation of the i" is certainly inspired by his friend paloin biloid's interest in the letter i but also (it seems) by my series of visual poems, the disembodiment of the alphabet, which I've been slowly publishing on my dbqp weblog without comment. I might claim that endwar's poem is not what the concretist from mid-century would call the "perfect copy," but it shows a good understanding of the infraverbal power of the simple tittle. And he knows that isolated letters I always have unavoidable secondary meaning.
endwar, "decapitation of the i" (2004)
Don't Shake a Gift Drawing by the Mouth
Roy Arenella has sent me a greeting card featuring a Shaker gift drawing from 1857 and a poster advertising an exhibit of such drawings that took place in New York Citty in 2001. So there is a theme here, but why is this mailart? Well, for goodness' sakes, I said to myself after finally understanding, Roy is pointing out how the Shakers' gift of a verbo-visual drawing was the same as the gift of mailart. The reproductions of these drawings are his gift to me and his mailart of that moment. And so he explains:
The first & main attraction was the drawings themselves, physically, their pure force, their idiosyncratic (sometimes wild & whacky) approach to combining pictures (drawings) & words. But also i liked the idea of the drawing as a gift, from another realm to the drawer & a gift from the drawer to her (most were women) community. This was a good example of how I see the art processAs a gift
To & from
Detail of a Shaker Gift Drawing