Returned Mail Art - comments appreciated.

So I want to run this by my mail art cohorts and get your input on it.

Our kids asked a number of long time friends to send them photos of them and us, to put into an album they were making us for our BIG birthday celebration this past weekend.

And people did, and it was fun to see us and our long time friends together. Nice memories. Many of these people are in other cities, so we don't see them often, or at all, anymore.

Tonight, our son gave us a box that he received which included some photos but was mainly my correspondence with our friend. I called her to see if she wanted it back, before I'd had a chance to go through it, and she said "no, it was mine to keep."

Tonight, I started to go through it. I haven't finished yet. In it were many of the pieces of mail art that I'd sent, including original Tiny Town pieces, and numbered pieces from my first, second, and third 365 projects. It was fun to see them, then it felt kind of odd. In a way, I'm happy to see these pieces again, and in another way, it's a bit weird. Like I've inherited an archive from someone and it's my stuff.  I don't know. hard to explain, but I needed to run this by y'all.  I'll keep the pieces, in the event that I do another Mail Art workshop or presentation and can use them as examples - especially the CD and the very old "floppy" disc. Remember those, anyone?  I didn't even remember I sent her those!

Okay, so if you've any thoughts on this, let me know.

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Comment by Richard Canard on July 15, 2016 at 4:43pm

15.07.16 Dare Ms. Mim & Friends  (& fiends) of the Pen, ... I've always thought that it was more or less already established that there were no rules in "mail art". Of course, most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the general rules of social behavior,  & who Amy Vanderbilt is (was), etc. ...& on top of that, most of us are simultaneously  & generally expecting our  fellow correspondents to "shake things up", surprise us, & to be playful  with  an independence unique to whoever they are....What I see here is that your friend was somewhat overwhelmed by your energy, the amount of material, etc., but was nonetheless incapable of dealing with it. Obviously she thought well enough  of the work & you to return it  to you rather than solve the  problem as I suspect many of my own correspondents have with my missives (i.e. the "shredder" & or the trash bin) . ...& so it goes or doesn't. Richard Canard

Comment by Toni Hanner -- tonipoet on July 15, 2016 at 5:51am

I think your friend's heart was in the right place, but I can see why you'd feel it was a bit strange. The mail art world is a special little mini-culture with its own set of values. I don't think people outside of it really get it (I barely do myself since I'm pretty new at it).

Comment by stripygoose on July 15, 2016 at 1:08am
I slightly recognise the weirdness - some of 365 birds migrated to friends' houses and I've seen the postcards again - and yes it's nice but odd. I guess the thing about mail-art is the sending and letting go - so a coming-back is not expected. Keep them, re-invent and re-send them, enjoy them... Thanks for sharing the story.
Comment by Katerina Nikoltsou (MomKat) on July 14, 2016 at 8:11am

Nice that they were returned to you, Mim. It would make for a good "archive" or...if you'd like to "Move Your Archive", you might send them out to others in the mail art world (I'd happily enjoy seeing a few more Tiny Town creations :-)

Comment by Bradford on July 14, 2016 at 5:52am

That's an interesting situation.  Like most, when I read "returned mail art", I thought you mean that the pieces were not delivered in the first place.  It just happened to me again 2 days ago.

I'd be happy to receive some few things back that I sent out over the years.  It's better than someone just throwing it all away which is what I fear happens to most mail art, especially when the practitioner who received it passes away and the friends/relatives don't deem it worth saving.

There are always artchives willing to take such donations.  If it's not too much to piecemeal, then scanning and posting it for others to "claim" might be a fun project in and of itself with the caveat, a work must be sent to receive the desired piece.

Most of all, please heed what my art teacher/friend from high school always said, "Have Fun!"

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