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Mail Art Bulletin: Some Staff Picks

Last Friday, I asked Kate Wadkins to work with some Hyperallergic writers and interns who were asked to pick a mail art submission and respond to it.

We’re also happy to report that in the last week, we’ve been inundated with great contributions to our upcoming mail art show. And don’t forget, you still have time to participate. The deadline for submissions is this Wednesday, June 8. For international artists, we will accept mail art works up until Saturday, June 11.

If you would like to be considered for inclusion, please send your mail art to:

Hyperallergic HQ
181 N 11th Street, Suite 302
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Note: All the photos below are by writer who made the pick.

Alexander Cavaluzzo’s Pick

Dear Gail,

Your daughter brings up an entirely valid point; the octopus is perhaps the only good thing in the ocean. I mean, it has the ability to expel ink and change the color of its skin to blend into its surroundings. And the whole eight arms thing works in its favor. Although there are many other good things in the ocean, it’s hard to outdo the octopus. I’m not entirely sure how this relates to your collage, but who cares? I appreciate that you fully used both the “mail” and “art” functions of our Mail Art project. Not only did you create a beautiful collage on the postcard you sent with a ‘60s model, Hello Kitty stickers and other kitschy patterns, but also using us as a modern-day Dear Abby was a perfect balance.

— AC

Kyle Chayka’s Pick

Tiberiu Chelcea mailed us some maps, but the first map is apparent even without opening his mail art pamphlet: there’s a carefully detailed topographic landscape with a red line tracing the envelope’s traveled path. But does it really? The area marked by our address certainly doesn’t look like Brooklyn, and the coastal dot that marks Chelcea’s location certainly isn’t Nashville. On the other side of the envelope is a single statement marked in neat black handwriting: “The delivery route for this letter (some information may be true)”.

Aside from holding a PhD in computer engineering, Chelcea is a student (and teacher) of traditional Japanese woodblock printing. The craftsmanship and interest in line and flat color show through in the trio of delicate maps inside the envelope he mailed us. The maps all share the same style, and the same confusion of place. The map labeled “New York” clearly isn’t New York (it depicts Nashville), though a speech bubble suggests that the envelope was “possibly delivered here.” A map depicting New York is labeled Nashville, “presumably mailed from here.” The Mackinac Valley map (“probably traveled through here”) shows somewhere else entirely. The whole piece is an elegant subversion of the interstate travel that makes mail art, mail art. It begs the question — where are we, really?

Jocelyn Silver’s Pick

Russell Manning (whose website I could not find) hails from Dallas, and his Mail Art submission to Hyperallergic is an illustration that belongs in a macabre children’s book. The envelope itself is decorated with dreamy clouds and a cupid stamp, and the drawing inside bears the iconography of Manning’s home state: a skull and the desert. Done with pen and ink in surreal shades of red, yellow, burnt orange and green, Manning captures the vibe of the desert well; the desert is dreamy and almost creepy, and he depicts it as such. His comically angry skull, mini cactus, neon stones and tiny embellishments add up to a eccentric portrait of his environment.

Kate Wadkin’s Pick

A suspicious package came to us from the Czech Republic, so I figured if I saw something, I should say something. Hrag opened the box and said, “It’s just this, a piece of paper and peanuts… well, packing peanuts.” Upon further inspection, the paper had a URL written on it in ballpoint pen.

I deduced that I was in for a video, but did not know what else to expect.

Cristina Maldonado, a Mexican choreographer living in Prague and working with Czech artists, created a performance piece through the post. Maldonado’s performance began by her making a parcel for us and filming the process. This continued through the box’s journey through vehicles and across the sea, until our opening it at Hyperallergic. The final stage was my watching Maldonado’s video of the package’s creation. Maldonado’s performance really taps into the temporal qualities of mail art, combined with the more immediate and accessible qualities of internet work.

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