Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mailart Archives

For his third card to me in a single day, Ruud painted the word "flux" in two parts onto a card. He has separated the X from the rest and put it on the other side of a river of paint ("flux" being a wordbeing for "flow"). This makes us pay more attention to the X, the inconceivable, the unknown. And, of course, it reminds us of Fluxus.

On the reverse of the card, Ruud asks me why I do with all the mailart I receive and assumes that I make some kind of archives out of it all. That is the truth. But here's the full story:

I'm behind on writing about the mailart I receive, but that is my first step. This is akin to "accessioning" for me (an archival term I won't bore you with the definition of). Next I place the mailart in folders by artist and then chronologically. This proves quite useful to me when I want to find an old piece of mailart sometime. The folders I use are pH-neutral and acid-free. (I buy them myself, and they're not cheap, but they help keep my collection in good shape. I also folder all the leaflets and booklets I receive, which can be quite a few over the course of a year.)

Last year, I collected about two cubic feet of mailart (that is two boxes 10 X 12 X 15 inches in size). I store my more recent mailart with my correspondence--appropriately enough--but I have only six cubic feet of filing cabinet space for these. So every year I have to box up some of my older mailart.

I also try to protect the pieces in my folders by isolating acidic materials with slips of pH-neutral paper, etc. One of my more recent problems is that my house is a bit humid during the summer, and Ruud's painted cards started to stick to one another. So now I have to think about separating all the cards from one another and about keeping the pressure on the cards as light as possible.

The big question is what will I do with my mailart collection. There are a few archives that will probably accept my papers into their collections (and I have had one offer already), so eventually these archives will probably find their way into a professional archives, making me one of the few archivist whose own papers are in an archives.

Ruud Janssen, "X Flu" (13 Aug 2005)

un violon d'ingres

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