Sometimes I get mail art from someone with additional mail art from other people in the envelope. Not as a form of A&P, but as a kind of... what? leftovers? too precious to throw them in a bin? How do you experience this phenomenon?

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i do not know how YOU experience this but i am one of these artist charging the envelope for an artist with such material. so i might share here why i am doing this. i am living in a little very sustainable community and our currency is "donation without expectation". this is a key feature of our internal common economy. i discovered that i feel very good if i donate without expectation even this pieces of art. they are given as things with value to others without any howto or order to use it this or that way. so as a result the receiving artist could throw them in a bin, could destroy them or manipulate them and maybe use them this or that way in his own art. and here comes the fun. i even do not motivate the artist to send me digital documentation about her/his own process of re-using my little gifts, but i fee very happy to see them sometimes showing up by browsing web or iuoma network. so its something like a feeling of mother/father: "look who nicely it developed..."

i also get sometimes stickers from sticker dude or other artists and i re-use them to up-cycle envelopes or combine them with collage. i imagine that this artist is feeling happy knowing that his artworks are traveling to unknown new destinations. so it will reach people he could not reach before. it becomes like an amplifier.

in a world of attention-grabbing it might be food for individual egos if they intend so. but on a long term - in an overall view - the group of artist sending and re-using this pieces of art became a find of family and the movement of this pieces defines pattern in the communication structure. it will be a playground for further research about art movements and habits and memes. mail art might be diverse, but not random.

especially in times of restricting heavily communication it becomes important to keep communication open, which is done by all these amazing citizens.

My experience is that I hesitate to put other people's mail art in my sending to someone. But others don't, apparently.

the difference might be that i focus more on the community than on the individuals building this community. and if you receive such pieces from my side in the future be sure i like it a lot if you re-use them. i do not see them as finished. you will give value to them, and i will enjoy that you will be able to surprise me by doing so.

i understand and share your hesitation. it's hard to imagine parting with the wonderful and often personal creations sent to me.

[following BonnieDiva's suggestion years ago, i have organized my incoming Mail Art by sender (in accordion files, no less - so it's like each mail artist has their own little gallery room)]

because my own output of 100% homemade 'pieces' of Mail Art is fairly low, it does bother me (a little) to think of someone sending one of those 'pieces' on to someone else. but hey, at that point it's out of my hands.

but there are other elements i receive as part of mail art deliveries - stamps, scraps of envelope, magazine clippings - that i would, say, decorate stationery with, pass along as 'omens', or work into a collage.

AND it doesn't bother me at all to think that the 'ephemera' i might include in my mailings would be recirculated. 

reduce, reuse, recycle, right?

i also share  Juan's sensibility of mail art as 'a playground for further research'. the dance between community and ego-creator is particularly complicated in mail art. which makes me wonder:

where is the art in mail art? in the material objects? in the experience of opening the envelope? in the assemblage of an outgoing packet? in the voyage from/to?

i know you've been part of Cascadia Artpost's 'Ticket Ticket' project, so you can appreciate, in the context of the above mentioned dance, my various reactions to seeing my artwork 'attributed' to someone else. that is, something handmade i had sent to X was then sent by X to CA, who naturally assumed it was from X, and so labeled it as such on his stamps. of course, none of this was intentional, but it did, for a moment, eat into the customary good feelings of inclusion/community that 'Ticket Ticket' usually spurs in me. of course now i find the whole thing hilarious and humbling. 

i guess your comment was the perfect prompt; i appreciate you giving me the opportunity to let go of this now ];-)

I was just going to mention Jack’s stamps (Cascadia Artpost)... I like to use his stamps, his name is on it, it is not possible to attribute them to someone else. I used Sabela stamps, and in the past other people. Stamps are made to decorate envelopes. Mail Art is a playground, it’s fun. For me I prefer to keep what they send me. This inspires me ( Zack knows it:-) to create my own. But the idea of circulating is also interesting.

yes Helene it's clear the stamps are made by Jack/CA, but in the 'Ticket Ticket' series, he also acknowledges his collaborators by captioning the mail artist/source of each image --

although most of these images are actually tickets or other such printed matter, some of them are handmade pieces. along with ticket stubs, etc. i occasionally send Jack an ATC (or small handmade piece, etc) and they may also end up on a stamp. 

in the last batch, i did a double take when i realized that someone else had ALSO sent Jack the same museum entrance ticket as i had; they both ended up on stamps! 

i think Jack does a fantastic job with this series ]:-)

"Mail Art Omens" as the Artist in Seine was said....found things and also other mail art sendings:

Many mail artists send their stickers, artistamps, ATCs and even just bits and pieces of "scraps" along with a mail art card or collage, etc. I will often add the "mail art omens that i have received in a sending along with my mail art. Now with the rise in Greek postage, it is a nice way to fill the envelope to the 20 gram limit :-) But I know that many mail artists really like seeing their things spread around the network, very complimentary really. 

I am always redistributing mail art I receive to other people along with mine simply because I don't really archive the mail art I receive and it's better than throwing it away.  However, I always put the original artists' name and address on the back of whatever I re-send so the recipient doesn't think it's my work.  

I see the journey of the art as its life force in mail art... Art in a folder is cherished, yes, but also almost dead. Art being passed on, copied, made into rubber stamps or stickers, collaged, has ART:LiFE to me. For all of us, sending and receiving, some pieces are great, some are trash. This is natural. I like to send things to certain people things I think they will enjoy--a Halloween or scary piece to Maxima; some vintage bits to Bonniediva; flowers to Fleur; political stickers to Sticker Dude; etc. At my best, I make a careful packet of my own original items targeted to the recipient. At my worst (perhaps and otherwise known as FLUXUS), I am stuffing all the crap I can into Add and Pass envelopes to get rid of the pile. Most of what I send is somewhere in between. I try to be thoughtful about what I send and to do so with intention rather than abandon--whatever it includes. This is not an absolute, though, just the majority and principle. Good question. Good discussion! I agree with Juan's comment about the structure of communication in mail art.

Firstly, thank you so much for the super interesting discussion topic. I love everyone's answers. I was introduced to 'mail art' because a pen pal kept sending me his and other people's things, and when he sent a Brain Cell I was... intrigued, to say the least.

Attribution issues have been on my mind somewhat since my recent forays into the IUOMA mode of mail art (just joined this year.) While part of me loves the theory of a collective version of the eternal network, another part of me hangs up on the practice of it. It seems uncomfortable to not know and/or give credit to an individual for their idea - copyright oriented arrangement. Perhaps this is an artifact of western thought processes we might shed in light of the changing ethos of humanity and the arts, and it just hurts because of our attachment to it.

There's still plenty of individuality expressed in the curating -from what I've seen, most people I've gotten anything from are  conscientious- I'm sure we're very far from a monotonous hive mind.

Free ourselves from possession, allow for collaborative work to reach the heights that are higher than what one alone can hope for! Also, there's a certain kind of joy in getting or giving an envelope that's an idiosyncratic cornucopia.

That being said, I feel the "no rules" rule allows for each to create the amount of personal space we need to be comfortable and be validated as an artist for being so. Call me an optimist and an idealist for it, I'm prepared to defend my naivety. As long as everyone is respecting each other's boundaries, it's a workable system. I have only passed along ephemera type things, or made photocopies and given attribution to the original artist.

My hope in sharing anything I've made is that now that it has finished helping me it can serve to inspire others in other ways and have more life. I gave my consent by joining the union, and I'm not attached to having my name go along with my pieces. But also part of my reason to send things out is to use the supplies I had been coveting for years. Yet, I still sign my name to each thing! Is that a form of hypocrisy?

I am curious about who makes a thing I receive second or third hand, sometimes just so I can say 'thank you for making me have a thought/feeling I enjoyed through your art.'



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