Mail-art by IUOMA member Matthew Stolte (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
February 25, 2014 - Matthew Stolte lives in Wisconsin, USA, a state with a high concentration of visual poets, enough so that I have renamed it Vis-consin. While distinctive and evolving, Matthew's work shows the influence of Wisconsin resident and vispo giant David Chirot. As this postcard-size piece indicates, Matthew's work frequently incorporates found materials, employs overlaying and distortion and emphasizes the materiality of language.
Critics make a distinction between "clean" and "dirty" concrete poetry. Matthew Stolte's poetry - with its industrial, gritty qualities - very often falls into the "dirty" category. Due to the abstract nature of the work, formalism is suggested. He builds and weaves structures together, but ultimately I believe these are organic forms rather than a dry formalism. The numerous symbols and patterns formed during the process of composition add an asemic dimension, enough so that this could be fairly viewed as a vispo/asemic hybrid.
As with this mail-art piece, Matthew Stolte's work is often concerned with environmental issues and presents a vision of a tarnished, post-industrial world. Ever-present are references to machines, metals and the repetition of industrial production. Ultimately, his work is language-centered, seldom straying far from words and letters as opposed to vispo that is composed of images. This preoccupation with language is a postmodern trait; and like the postmoderns, Matthew Stolte sees language as a complex set of relations (including the formation of metaphors), indeterminate signifiers, the machinations of poetic form: a questioning of the possibility of meaning.
Matthew Stolte is a very active member of the international mail-art, which is a great benefit to many of us. He generously shares original copies of his work and participates in projects. As ever, I am deeply appreciative. Matthew Stolte has a great vispo blog well-worth visiting: