Mail-art by IUOMA member David Stafford (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA)
December 28, 2014 - The inclusion of a pipe-bedecked David Stafford in the holiday card he sent me this year puts me in a mood for a bit of puffery as well as the obligatory, profuse and predictable gushing thanks you have come to expect.
Conservatively, the mail-art network has existed for 50 years. Anyone with a little knowledge of the history can usually cite someone else who already did it (and better) when something seemingly new appears. David Stafford might well be the exception. I venture to place him as a top satirist working in the network today and strikingly original with few to no precedents.
The envelope he sent contained two postcards, both variations on the Underwater Living Systems piece. Here is the reverse side of the opening scan:
David Stafford is clearly a skilled graphic artist with a literary bent. This is a powerful combination. His satire can shift quickly from economic, social and political themes to culture and mail-art itself. Indeed, his success (including a small but rabidly fanatical fan club at the IUOMA founded by KDJ, no less), I believe, is due in part to his application of a critical eye to the current mail-art scene. Here is a panel from the second card:
In these cards, David Stafford has managed to present a searing commentary on the commercialization of the holidays and the artificiality of bourgeois customs. His use of surrealism and the absurd are evident and masterful. For one thing, New Mexico is associated with the desert, not oceans. The commentary on the condominiums is extremely subtle and clever: “Underwater” is also a terms for real estate investments gone bad in the wake of the economic disaster that began in the USA in 2008.
Many thanks to David Stafford for another outstanding year of mail art.