Object Trashpo made with compacted paper and cardboard refuse then bound and stitched by IUOMA member Stephanie Blake (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)
June 10, 2012 - In the first installment of this investigative mail-art series on the burgeoning Trashpo movement (and by extension the ubiquitous DKult) I examined the Trashbook phenom, daring to ask the question: "Has Trashpo lost its roots?" The conclusion so far appears to be both yes and no. A Cold War of sorts involving the polarities of aesthetics and anti-art is playing itself out in the Trashbook arena.
Yet in expanding Trashpo forms independent of the Trashbook we see a commitment to recycling and avoidance of representational Trashpo that points at a more healthy outlook for the future. This beautiful work I received from Stephanie Blake last week is a fine illustration. Compacting trash into Object Poems, indeed, seems to be a growing trend. Sarah Churchill's (Wales) melted plastic bag constructs are another example, in addition to Stephanie Blake's. Here is the reverse side of this very wonderful piece.
"Junkpo" by Diane Keys (April 2011), Photo courtesy of the IUOMA.
D-Kunst and the Evolution of Euro-Trashpo
"Havana Libre" (2012) by DharmaDaDa Erni Baer (Hamburg, Germany). Kurt Schwitters and DharmaDaDa are two great European influences on contemporary Trashpo. (Photo courtesy of the IUOMA)
From the breakthough Trashpo compositions made by Jim Leftwich in 2005 to Diane Keys' early D-Kompositions circa 2010, Trashpo would seem to have deep roots in the United States and its hyper-consumer trash economy.
New Wave Trashpo, though, has strong proponents in Europe. Svenja Wahl (Heidelberg, Germany) is immortalized for establishing the first chapter of DKult in Germany aka D-Kunst. As the German name suggests, the Euro-Trash manifestation is concerned with aesthetic issues and, particularly, structure, which marks a difference with D-Khaos.
D-Kunst Swiss Trashpo from Janine Weiss
I recently received this Trashpo-based work from good mail-art friend Janine Weiss in Boudry, Switzerland. Janine's work is comprised of collage and loose trash:
Mail-art by Janine Weiss (Boudry, Switzerland)
I think Janine's work helps define the New Wave Euro-Trashpo.
Like Theresa Williams' (USA) epic Trashbook in Part I of my series, Janine Weiss integrates culturally oriented print material to develop an aesthetic referentiality, placing her in the D-Kunst Zeitgist.
Mail-art by Janine Weiss (Boudry, Switzerland)
Janine included some loose trash material I think she means for me to use in making collages. However, I find these fascinating pieces serve as a unified trash poem I can re-arrange. She included a very nice note:
Janine is referring to the Solar Disk I sent her for the MinXus Solar Festival later this summer. She received the first one!
I took Janine's mail-art and made a scanner-bed Trashpo composition. I think it looks great. Don't you?
Finlandia Poetica - Carina Granlund
Carina Granlund (work shown below) recently received the TrashPo Litzer Prize for a poem she composed for Jim SantAmour (Florida, USA). I was ecstatic when I received a trash poem from her! This is a fantastic piece:
Mail-art by Carina Granlund (Petsmo, Finland)
This, too, is a fine example of New Wave Euro-Trashpo. It displays the aesthetics of D-Kunst and, ultimately, is a formalist piece that approaches minimalism with its brilliant economy. Yet I find no evidence of representational Trashpo other than perhaps the paper and thread. The commitment to recycling is unwavering, and if that can be integrated with aesthetics? Then why not? Here is a detail pic:
Detail of Trashpo by Carina Granlund (Petsmo, Finland)
In my estimation, this IS visual poetry, as well as authentic Trashpo. Carina even uses lines, the shape of a conventional poem on the page, and colors, letters, and asemics that represent a lyric poem's content. Wonderful, wonderful work that I will treasure for a long time. The usual suspect:
And the reverse side:
Eduardo Cardoso's TrashPo-RtUGal or "I am [still] perplexed"
Mail-art by IUOMA member Eduardo Cardoso (Sines, Portugal)
Over the last two years, I have received fantastic and engaging mail-art from Eduardo Cardoso. I have not sent nearly enough in return. He is a gem of a visual poet whose talents extend to collage, music, video and many other areas. In addition, he has a great sense of humor. I have had this small trashbook he sent along with some other material for a long time. As always, I think Eduardo was brilliant in taking the Trashbook concept and making it something uniquely his own:
The pages themselves are thin strips of torn refuse from newspapers, receipts, advertising, and handwritten notes. From what I know of Eduardo, he probably enjoyed finding the chance juxtapositions of words and images in the piece as much as I did. The thin pages make for a lot of repetitions and re-combinations. I finally removed the single staple that binds the work to arrange it more freely on the scanner:
A lot of the material concerns political and economic issues. This could be a function of chance, but it does add an element of social commentary to piece, an issue I discussed in the first installment of "The Decadence of Trashpo."
Eduardo Cardoso established the Minimal Mail-Art group at the IUOMA, and there is definitely a minimalist tendency in his work, although often expressed in unusual ways, such as, in this case, the relatively small samplings of larger documents.
As with Janine's work, I finally began an open interaction with the art and arranged it on the scanner to make my own combinations:
Here is a clear view of some of the numerical bits Eduardo built in to the cover pages:
It was fantastic spending time and interacting with Eduardo's work. It has been too long! I hope we can manage to continue to stay in touch or I should say more in touch.
Eduardo's Paranormal Mail-Art blog is one of of my all-time favs:
"foundlist" by Diane Keys (June 2011). D-Klassic Listpo. Photo courtesy of the IUOMA.
Trashpo is evolving in many directions, including the spiritual. DharmaDaDa Erni Baer has provided a framework for this with the 9th Consciousness and other teachings. His disciple, Neil Gordon (Connecticut, USA), has done much to advance Trash Consciousness in the DKult.
As this section of "The Decadence of Trashpo" draws to a conclusion, I am not yet able to summarize the philosophy that is making Trashpo not so much art as a way of life. But I will post this exciting new work by DharmaDaDa Lynn Radford (Pennsylvania, USA) that suggests a cosmic, harmonic convergance future for Trashpo. Lynn has already introduced the concept of "Trashpo mindfulness" to many of us.
Mail-art by IUOMA member Lynn Radford (New Brighton, Pennsylvania, USA)
Lynn was able to create a beautiful, language-oriented Trashpo work using a "POSTED" sign as the foundation. What I received is one third of the entire work that was divided and mailed to others. Now we share a common bond of having parts of the whole. For Lynn, I believe the art of Trashpo is extended to the practice of locating the material in the world.
Many thanks to Lynn as well as DK, Stephanie, Janine, Carina, Erni, and Eduardo for providing this tremendous mail-art.
Please contribute to the "Trashpo Lexicon"!
Here is the first draft of "A Trashpo Lexicon" - aka "A Practical Guide to Trashpo" - I will post this in the Trashpo group. First, I would REALLY appreciate it if anyone has other Trashpo terms that should be added. I consider this a living DoKument that will grow and evolve:
A TRASHPO LEXICON (under construction)
Aesthetic Trashbook - (see Trashbook)
Angie Cope - See Snooker the Amazing Mail-Art Dog.
Arthur Rimbaud - An imaginary character invented by Jack Spicer. See Kurt Schwitters.
Asemic writing - A broad term encompassing text that cannot be read in any conventional sense and that is devoid of rational meaning. This includes artificial and invented languages (without signification), distorted text, unintelligible handwriting and calligraphy, and forms of cut-ups, among others. Asemic symbols appear frequently in Trashpo and have been named Trashemics.
Audible Trashpo - A form of recorded sound Trashpo created by re-assembling various audio devices found in dumpsters or landfills, such as singing greeting cards, especially when the sound is distorted. Audible Trashpo was invented by Not Hi Ng (USA).
Bernice - First and only winner of the DK For A Day contest.
Cerealism - Trashpo made from cereal boxes. Based on wordplay with Surrealism, the practice of exchanging cereal boxes is thought to originate with Ray Johnson. Mail-artists currently associated with Cerealism are Arac (USA), Richard Canard (USA), and Katerina Nikoltous (Greece).
Chance operations - A variety of methods, ranging from the simple to exceedingly complex, to generate random combinations and constructs in art and writing. Some methods of Trashpo composition involve chance operations.
COMMITTEE, THE - See TrashPo Litzer Prize.
Cut-ups - Similar to Da Da experiments, author William S. Burroughs devised a simple method for dis-assembling and re-combining text in a randomized form believed (by Burroughs) to reveal deeper truths hidden within linear narratives and socially mediated discourse. Cut-up variants are used often in mail-art and can also be thought of as word collage.
DharmDaDa - Originally coined by Erni Baer (Germany), DharmaDaDa is now applied to the name of an artist who believes Trashpo is a deeply spiritual activity. Trashpo DharmaDaDas are Erni Baer, Neil Gordon, and Lynn Radford.
DharmaDaDa Erni Baer - An artist in Hamburg, Germany, whose Dada-Beat Generation art serves as a foundation for contemporary Trashpo.
DharmaDaDa Lynn Radford - Following a conversion to Trashpo through contact with an Elgin Shroud Shred, Lynn Radford's current work is exploring the spiritual aspects of gathering trash material for art, composition, and sharing with others.
DharmaDaDa Neil Gordon - Currently offical DKult Chaplin, Neil Gordon's early Trashpo appeares to be crudely made religious objects and tablets and scrolls with asemic writing, associated by some with Punk and anti-art. After discipleship with Diane Keys and Erni Baer, Gordon said the purpose of his art and his role to create harmony in the DKult and serve others was clarified.
D-Kar - DK's car, as pictured in the DKult Trashpo Fanzine.
DK - Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA) (aka Queen of Trash) whose work with collage, painting, roadkill, and junk serves as the foundation for current Trashpo practice.
D-Kanines - Established to entice pet owners to enroll their dogs as well as themselves in DKult. Despite the endorsement of Snooky the Amazing Mail-Art Dog, the effort has attracted little interest.
DK For A Day - A contest where the winner spends a day with DK and KDJ at the Elgin Mansion. Bernice was the first winner and then the contest was cancelled.
D-Khaos - Term used to describe the total absence of form or structure in some, especially early Trashpo work, by Diane Keys.
D-Koder Ring - Early Dkult members were promised a ring would be mailed to them that would enable them to read secret messages encoded in mail-art. Rings were recalled and re-issued due to alleged defects, yet authentic D-Koder rings are extremely rare.
D-Komposition - Critical term to define the temporal nature of Diane Key's work and by extension Trashpo.
D-Konomy: A utopian scheme for the creation of a sustainable economy based on recycling and barter.
D-Kollectibles - A branch of DKULTNY that distributes Dkult and Trashpo memorabilia and marketing items.
DKULTFLA - Official DKult Florida Chapter - KDJ
DKULTME - Official DKult Maine Chapter - Nancy Bell Scott
DKULTNY - DKult New York Chapter - De Villo Sloan and Dark wall
DK-ULTRA - A secret, extremist organization alleged to exist inside the DKult. No tangible proof of DK-Ultra's existence has yet been discovered and it remains a conspiracy theory.
D-Kunst - A European variant of Trashpo emphasizing aesthetics and form pioneered by Svenja Wahl (Germany).
D-Tat - A tattoo for Dkult members designed by Skybridge Studios (USA) based on a Ray Johnson bunny stamp.
Elgin Mansion - Home of Diane Keys and the headquarters of Trashpo.
Elgin Shroud - A shirt owned by Diane Keys that was alleged to have been removed from the Elgin Mansion in March of 2011 by Mr. Stubbs and Ramone. In Mexico, they claimed the shirt - now called a shroud - had miraculous powers.
Elgin Shroud Shred - Various pieces of cloth circulating through the mail-art network alleged to be original pieces of Diane Keys' shirt. DKULTNY (DKult-New York) is the point of origin for most shroud shreds.
Fake shopping lists - (see Listpo)
Grigori Antonin - (aka G-Man, The Grigster) A mail-artist from Minnesota, USA who holds the distinction of having his nomination for a TrashPo Litzer Prize contested by members of THE COMMITTEE. Ultimately, he was awarded the prize. Antonin was briefly a disciple of DharmaDada Erni Baer.
Jim Leftwich - Visual poet (Virginia, USA) who invented Trashpo in 2005 as it is practiced in the mail-art network today.
John M. Bennett - Visual poet from Ohio, USA who invented Listpo.
Junk Mail Revolution - A pre-Trashpo movement started by Diane Keys urging artists to recycle junk mail into mail-art. This seems to have been successfully subsumed into the framework of Trashpo.
KDJ - A mail-artist from Orlando, Florida, USA who has held high positions - including controller - of DKult. She is known for her whacky exploits.
Kurt Schwitters - An imaginary character invented by Arthur Rimbaud.
Landfill of Fame - See TrashPo Litzer Prize
Listpo - List poetry. The use of found lists, especially shopping lists, as Trashpo. Listpo was first popularized by U.S.A. visual poet John M. Bennett in 2010 when he mailed Karen Champlin (USA) his discarded shopping list. A shortage of John Bennett shopping lists in the mail-art network led to the distribution of Fake John Bennett Shopping Lists. Fake Diane Keys Shopping Lists are also in circulation.
Martha Stuart School of Asemic Wallpaper - DK studied at the Martha Stuart School where she developed many commercial products that use asemic writing. She received a Medal of Honor from the school and presented the 2011 Commencement Address.
MinXus-Lynxus - A mail-art movement created by Empress Marie Antonette that is always the opposite of whatever Trashpo is.
Mr. Stubbs - A performing pig who accomapnied DK on tours and was said to have stolen the Elgin Shroud and smuggled it into Mexico. Mr. Stubbs' faithful companion is a man named (Uncle) Ramone.
Neil Gordon - (aka Dharma DaDa Neil Gordon) is a U.S.A. mail-artist who serves as the DKult's chaplin.
Ramone - aka Uncle Ramone - see Mr. Stubbs.
Ray Johnson - US artist considered to be the founder of the mail-art movement. The D-Tat was designed by Johnson and Skybridge Studios.
Richard Canard - Legendary mail-art from Illinois, USA known as both a proponent and critic of Cerealism.
RustPo - Rust poetry - a form of Trashpo using rusting metal that shows the D-Komposition of the Object Poem. Pioneered by Nancy Bell Scott (USA) and DharmaDaDa Erni Baer.
Schwitterpo - The belief that Kurt Schwitters invented Trashpo
Skybridge Studios - An Indiana, USA mail-artist who designed the D-Tat with Ray Johnson.
Snooky the Amazing Mail-Art Dog - Snooker is Angie Cope's (Wisconsin, USA) pet.
Surrealism - See Cerealism.
Svenja Wahl - See D-Kunst.
Trashbook - Books made of trash using Trashpo concepts. The first Trashbook was created by Diane Keys in 2011 using pieces of scorched wood and metal. Cheryl Penn (South Africa) and Nancy Bell Scott (USA) pioneered the Aesthetic Trashbook, which unites book arts practices with trash materials. Aesthetic Trashbooks de-emphasize anti-art and chance operation aspects of Trashpo.
Trashemics - see Asemic Writing.
Trashion - (1) Anti-commercial or anti-commodification stance taken by Trashpo or (2) constructing clothing and shoes from trash.
Trashpo (Trash Poetry) - In 2005, U.S.A. visual poet Jim Leftwich posted photos on the internet of wastebasket material that appeared to have been randomly dumped on a scanner bed and then copied. The trash had ripped, printed letters and words that when combined formed a text similar to DaDaist poetry.
Thus, Trashpo is a form of visual poetry based on chance operations and anti-art, although its recent popularity in the international mail-art network has produced numerous hybrids (and mutations) that have evolved from the Leftwich originals.
Examples of Leftwich's Trashpo appeared on Fluxlist Europe in 2007 and their originality was noted by Ruud Janssen in the comment stream, but the impact of Trashpo's first wave is unknown.
U.S. writer and artist Lannie Quarles used the term trashpo as early as 2003 as a title for a series of journals he kept, but the content does not appear to resemble the later Leftwich work.
TrashPo Litzer Prize- Anyone can nominate someone, including themselves, to receive this award for excellence and innovation in Trashpo. All awards, however, must be approved by THE COMMITTEE, a panel of experts whose identities are a secret. KDJ oversees these awards. Recipients of the award are recorded in the Landfill of Fame.
"No! I prefer MinXus!"