Cover of Trashbook by IUOMA member Cheryl Penn (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa)
September 3, 2012 - This blog is a continuation of my pioneering "Trashpoetics" investigations into the theoretical basis of Trashpo and its coherence as a practice while at the same time being a sensational phenom sweeping the international mail-art network.
The title is a reworking of T.S. Eliot's classic "Tradition and the Individual Talent" essay because, as my previous writing has revealed, a tension exists between the individual artist and the collective (or D-Kollective). We need only look at the meteoric rise of DKult to see that artists engaged in Trashpo often gather together for discussion and collaboration.
With its roots in anti-art and a standardized means of production displayed in the work of Jim Leftwich, Trashpo would indeed seem to have the potential to, at best, marginalize individuality and individual expression. Yet with the emergence of a Trashpo aesthetic, it appears that mechanized redundancy will not be a an element of Trashpo's decline. Cheryl Penn's trashbook, excerpted here, is a stunning example of how Trashpo has evolved and revitalizes itself allowing for maximum freedom of the individual artist.
In the opening scan, paired with a garment price tag, we are asked the provocative question: "IS THIS A TRASH BOOK?" The emphatic answer: "It most certainly is a Trashbook." Then in the pages ahead Cheryl Penn presents a beautiful, self reflective artist's book constructed of South African trash, selected and arranged in such a way that an aesthetic object is produced. Yet the foundation of the work is trash, trash that has been highly refined or highly refined trash:
Among beautiful but likely mass-produced fabric designs and sensuous plastic wrap textures, we find what is a veiled challenge to the D-Kollective and perhaps Jim Leftwich himself. Do Diane Keys and I have some ultimate authority to decide what is and is not Trashpo? This is precisely the danger of DKult, were it not kind, benevolent and accepting of everyone. This is precisely the danger in Trashpo, were not all who chose to work in the form brilliant poets and artists. Yet, while an apparent hierarchy, the rhetoric of DKult is metaphorical. Is Jim Leftwich the "Trashpo Jesus"? Only in a metaphorical sense; and thus D-vinity is not meant to be absolute.
Cheryl reveals an incredible understanding of D-Khaos as anti-structure, constructing a stunning, sustained visual poem using indigenous trash, discarded text and fragments of her own work. Can something be inherently trash yet still have elements of quality? Cheryl seems to be saying: "Yes! yes!":
Excerpts from Trashbook by Cheryl Penn (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa)
While most readers by now are doubtless enthralled by the beauty of the book and would be content to continue to experience its aesthetics, Cheryl expands upon and reminds us of its didactic intent. Cheryl Penn's book, indeed, is part of a tradition, the tradition of the book, the Western Tradition. I think this in no way conflicts with its status as a piece of trash - a Trashbook, and that is because Cheryl has achieved a synthesis. Nor does it negate Cheryl's own view that her art is trash. Trashy art can be part of the Western Tradition. It is possible that the entire Western Tradition is, in a sense, trash.
These pages display a perfect example of Cheryl's handwriting, which many of us consider asemic writing. If you can read that, I would like to know what it says.
Excerpts from Trashbook by Cheryl Penn (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa)
Does the statement: "IMHO/ its far/Too neat" suggest Cheryl, having explored Trashpo, finds it too limiting? The statement seems ambiguous.
Cheryl Penn and Nancy Bell Scott have both received TrashPo Litzer Prizes for inventing the Aesthetic Trashbook. It was wonderful to receive this Trashbook from Cheryl (it arrived some time ago) to see how her work is progressing in this genre.
And please make sure to treat yourself to a visit to Cheryl's excellent blog:
Tender Buttons - Stephanie Blake, Claire Dinsmore, and Diane Keys
Mail-art envelope (similar to others received by DKulters) from IUOMA member Stephanie Blake (Huntsville, Alabama, USA) containing Trashpo buttons
While Cheryl Penn pursues the path of rugged Trashpo individualism and book-length projects always providing a rigorous critique of the genre itself, the DKult has produced many opportunities for collaborative projects.
The Dkult has and continues to produce a large amount of advertising and promotional items related to Trashpo. In the course of history, these items will doubtless survive alongside Trashbooks and all the other rich products of Trashpo.
Envelope-inside-envelope mail-art by Stephanie Blake (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)
The recent Trash Button project done as a collaboration by Stephanie Blake, Claire Dinsmore (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) and Diane Keys DK (Elgin, Illinois, USA) has netted the artists an outpouring of profuse praise and TrashPo Litzer Prizes. Their fantastic success at DKult-Trashpo merchandising is threatening to eclipse previous efforts including the Skybridge Studios (Indiana, USA) collab with Ray Johnson himself.
In order to share the Trash buttons with mail-artists, Stephanie Blake had to take on the monolithic U.S. Postal system that seemed resistant to the effort. Determination prevailed, and recipients of this amazing work are very fortunate.
Many, many thanks to the Trash Button Trio. And my deepest appreciation to Stephanie Blake who deemed me a worthy recipient of the original buttons.
For those interested in Trashpo, Diane Keys' blog is a must-see:
New directions in the Trashbook - Eduardo Cardoso's Trashometry - Trashpo Cubism
Cover of Trashometry by IUOMA member Eduardo Cardoso (Sines, Portugal)
To the best of my knowledge, I have the supreme honor of presenting to the world for the first time excerpts from Eduardo Cardoso's Trashometry, a new and exciting work that serves to further support my theses in "Trashpo and the Individual Talent."
Previously, in terms of science and mathematics, Trashpo has concerned itself with biology through biopoetry. Eduardo Cardoso has now ingenuously broadened the field with this meditation upon Trashpo and geometry. Drawing from the established tradition of Euro-Trash, he places his own geometric constructs in the context of trashed product advertising, which does indeed provide geometric resonance in the text.
Trashometry uses accepted forms of geometry, but they often mutate into a kind of surrealist geometry and mnechanics that only could originate in the mind of Eduardo Cardoso. Truly, examining Eduardo's inventions are interesting and great fun.
Like Cheryl Penn, Eduardo Cardoso seems to be exploring D-Khaos. Can D-Khaos be translated into Cubism? Eduardo shows that it can be.
Excerpt from Trashometry, a Trashbook by Eduardo Cardoso (Sines, Portugal)
This is the back cover with Eduardo Cardoso's signature red stamp. My deepest thanks to Eduardo for the wonderful recent work he has sent. Eduardo's "Paranormal Mail-Art" blog is one of my all-time favs. Maybe you will like it too:
Does the spirit of the Elgin Shroud now reside in Ander Morlando's jeans?
Mail-art (shredded blue jeans) by IUOMA member Ander Morlando (Napoli, Italy)
Ander Morlando is a committed, brilliantly talented Italian artist who sometimes participates in the mail-art network. I became very interested in his work when I saw it posted at the IUOMA, and we stayed in touch for a while. Sadly, he has been scarce in the network lately, probably due to the pull of his many projects. Ander can be a bit of a "Wild Man," and I was not always sure if he approved of my ideas; but he seemed willing to continue the fragmented dialog we had.
Ander Morlando has an agenda (I mean that in a positive way), and my conversations with him concerning his ideas and theories about art have been sadly limited due to the fact that my Italian is worse than his English. He uses many images from Italian popcult and references to Italian art that are fascinating but not always familiar to me. His work seems to be striving for a powerful expression that is devoid of metaphorical adornment. How I know this I cannot remember, but I am reasonably sure Ander Morlando is Eduardo Cardoso's cousin. The pair developed the Paranormal Mail-art concept together. You can see it at Eduardo's blog, but I think the intention is to expand it further.
I was thrilled to receive recent work from Ander - even if it is a shredded piece of his blue jeans. Ander has not been present for the rise of Trashpo, but my guess is he would probably approve. This work he sent certainly qualifies as Trashpo. Here is the reverse side:
Send your mail-art to Ander! Maybe we can pull him back as a more regular participant in the Eternal Network. This work he sent certainly seems part of the shredded clothing line in Trashpo that includes the Elgin Shroud as well as Marie Wintzer's "Last shred of dignity."
And the reverse:
I want to express my appreciation again to all whose work appears in "Trashpo and the Individual Talent."
"No! I prefer MinXus!"