Mail-Art Cafe

The Place where there is no specific theme. A real social group for you......

Members: 285
Latest Activity: Feb 10

Discussion Forum

Mini Mail Art Symposium - Manchester

Started by Michael Leigh. Last reply by Michael Leigh Feb 10. 8 Replies

Music and the process of creation

Started by Eduardo Cardoso. Last reply by Carolyn Cline Dec 22, 2018. 30 Replies

Poetry Circle

Started by Talking Bird. Last reply by amadeu escórcio Aug 13, 2018. 27 Replies

What does Art want?

Started by Talking Bird. Last reply by Carolyn Cline Apr 23, 2018. 27 Replies

Poison Bottle collectors

Started by Poison Label Productions. Last reply by Strelnikov (Стрельников) Jun 2, 2011. 4 Replies


Started by vittore baroni. Last reply by Mail Art Martha Feb 22, 2011. 7 Replies

What do [men and] women want?

Started by Talking Bird. Last reply by Clifford Duffy Feb 6, 2010. 60 Replies

Koboloi (only for men?)

Started by Talking Bird. Last reply by Katerina Nikoltsou (MomKat) Dec 12, 2009. 15 Replies


Started by Celestino Neto. Last reply by nuria metzli Jun 22, 2009. 6 Replies

Vincent Schiavelli

Started by Rain Rien Nevermind. Last reply by Adamandia Jan 17, 2009. 1 Reply

Comment Wall


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Comment by Jennifer Wallace on November 22, 2019 at 12:39pm

I like the description, '...  rendering the object(s) in question no longer mailart, but fetishized commodities', but disagree about the 'gift' economy of mail art being a utopian fantasy. There are all sorts of exchanges between people where there is no 'pricing', but the fact is that some people do 'give' more than others and everyone making mail art must be doing a bit more rather than less of the giving of 'gifts' of a form they have the ability to make.

But look at what drives any of us to make art of any sort - there's all and every motivation in the mix, isn't there? Mail art is one niche genre. Given that this is one small part of the global totality of the making of art of any sort, it's got no choice but to be here within a context of a global art market which has insatiable drives to spend money and acquire.

When any of us makes and gives away any sort of art, we also give away any rights over it, don't we? With mail art, unlike a professional graphic artist, I will get no payment for my work, but like that artist working to a customer's brief, the client will make money out of the artwork, and in subsequent periods, who knows, that artist's work might end up in art gallery shops on mugs and shopping bags? What would Gauguin make of the National Gallery's current merchandising of shopping bags, mugs, coasters, scarves, t-shirts, etc, to go with their current exhibition?  

If I personally knew someone buying old mail art, I'd ask why they were doing it. There must be newcomers like me who might buy pieces in the same way that they'd spend money on art books, to learn from as well as get pleasure from. Public archives, museums and galleries are not stocked with donations. Do you think anyone actually buys mail art as a financial investment?

So does it come down to not wanting someone unknown to make a profit from your work? Where does 'possession' end? What's the difference between this and giving someone a birthday present they don't like which they then either bin or take into a charity shop? A while back I moved into a flat that went with a job, opened a cupboard and found it jammed with a collection of 'leaving presents', every one of which I could see why the previous person had chosen to leave behind. Clearing out the totality of possessions of both parents after their deaths, I've thought about this a lot! How much did I respect their wishes? 

A bit of a ramble of thoughts, but because I only came across someone making mail art this year and am now doing it myself, I'm thinking this through for my own reasons.

Comment by res nullius aka. "res" on November 22, 2019 at 2:49am

The concepts I'm referencing are not new, but doesn't commodifying mailart kill the Potlatch-style gift economy, thus rendering the object(s) in question no longer mailart, but fetishized commodities (Marx) -- part of the market and the resulting alienated "Society of Spectacle" (DeBord)? Or is the gift economy of mailart a utopian fantasy?

I know it's not the mid-20th C. when the ideas of the left were discussed widely, but isn't selling mailart retroactively appropriating other artists' time, energy, talents and the products of their creative labor, for someone else's profit? Won't the practice of selling mailart ultimately kill mailart?

Who wants to pour out their creative force(s) -- and what individual surplus they have -- for a future capitalist's profit? As an international community, we shouldn't be art-serfs, even for future mercantile small-business types.

Why should we talk about this? Because theorists have been saying we're in a "late capitalist" era (and other terms) since the 1930s. If we think about and talk about the fate of our productions, we might come up with interesting alternatives to the sale of each others' artistic and anti-art, etc., creations. 

Comment by Michael Leigh on November 21, 2019 at 9:24pm

"Mail art and money don't mix"  was a popular maxim a few years back and still applies I guess.  Can't stop people trying to cash in - but really - who would pay those sort of prices for photo copies?!  I find it hard enough to sell 'zines and badges just to recoup printing costs!  We used to do alternative book sales and  print fests but not anymore - lucky to get enough to pay for stall!

Comment by Heleen de Vaan on November 21, 2019 at 8:46pm

Two souls one thought, Jennifer! (or many thoughts!? :-) )

I saw Ryosuke's Brain Cell forms on ebay recently. I just posted it in the 'mail art and money' group. What do you, and all of you/us, think of mail art and money?


Comment by Jennifer Wallace on November 21, 2019 at 1:01pm
Comment by Heleen de Vaan on November 13, 2019 at 5:42pm

Great to see all of you, thank you for sharing the photos! I’ll make me a coffee and toast at you!

Comment by Katerina Nikoltsou (MomKat) on November 12, 2019 at 9:56am

NICE owl!!!!

Comment by Katerina Nikoltsou (MomKat) on November 12, 2019 at 9:55am

Grazie Bruno, thanks for joining us for coffee at Sounion, Greece with Ryosuke, Noriko and John OWL! :-)

Comment by Bruno Cassaglia on November 10, 2019 at 6:55pm

Comment by Katerina Nikoltsou (MomKat) on October 19, 2019 at 10:23am

Coffee (cappuccino) with Van Gogh,

at the new Goulandri Modern Art museum, Athens :-)


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