Back in January I received an ADD&PASS started by C.Canfield, of Santa Fe, NM. This had come via Sue Miller (in Franklin NJ) and Fleur Helsingor (in Oakland CA) and I sent it on to Res Nullius.

I can't find C.Canfield in this IUOMA website. Is this Carol Canfield? Is anyone here in contact with her and know what her likes (and dislikes) in mail art are? When a new name comes up, I usually look at what they've been making and sending out, to at least try and minimise a moment of horror as they open mail from me! 

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Comment by Crystal S on Tuesday

I received an envelope of these sheets, 4 of them. It was odd to me because they were photocopies of other add & passes. I am glad I know now about this. I had no idea!

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on May 27, 2020 at 6:13pm

Interesting comment, Fleur, about making things into books, because that's what I did with this one started by Carol, and I've done it with other ones, too. But I don't usually post photos of that because I feel it maybe spoils it for the people farther down that ADD&PASS line. Same as I don't post photos here of mail I've made and sent onto someone who I know is an IUOMA member.

With Carol, I had Googled her, but hadn't got very far.

Comment by Fleur Helsingor on May 26, 2020 at 8:29pm

If other artists have made additions to those sheets, I sometimes will bind a single sheet into a little add-and-pass booklet. I've gotten more careful about doing this now, however.

Back to Carol Canfield: not every mail artist is an IOUMA member. I sometimes will use Google or DuckDuckGo to find examples of someone's artwork.

Comment by Fleur Helsingor on May 26, 2020 at 8:09pm

I've started putting Gergel sheets in my paper recycling. I actually wasn't aware of Gergel's history until November 2019, but now I know better.

Just throw those sheets away.

Comment by res nullius aka. "res" on May 26, 2020 at 3:44pm

"[Dennis] Gergel [Jr.] was arrested after a warrants check revealed he was wanted on five counts of use of personal identification information by use of harassment, with bonds totaling $5,000." -- Bradenton Herald

Gergel uses multiple pseudonyms, among them Shirley Gergel, as well as the appropriated names of other mail artists/non-artists, coworkers, co-students, etc. He has harassed Allegra Sleep, and also Steven High, the Executive Director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Do not add/pass or forward Gergel mailart to the Ringling address; this is a Gergel ploy, not collective naming or appropriation, as per Neoism.


Read more here: https://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article34546305.html#sto... you see the name "Shirley Gergel" on an A&P, it's a Dennis Gergel, Jr.  He uses multiple pseudonyms, including co-opting and mailing under A. Sleep's name. I just opened an envelope from the quarantine pile, and it contained not one, but two Shirley Gergels. You'd be shocked how prominent in arts & crafts-style mailart the 'crew' willing to distribute Gergels can be, and sometimes Gergel's imaginative content rivals the perversions of Caligula (although at other times it looks harmless). In my experience, if you contact the sender and inquire what this stuff is, they will be disingenuous, and will not inform  you that "Gergel was arrested after a warrants check revealed he was wanted on five counts of use of personal identification information by use of harassment, with bonds totaling $5,000." - Bradenton Herald  I think the point is to keep his stuff circulating.utive Director, Steven High, through the mails. (Don't ever pass/forward mailart to the Ringling Museum address -- that is a Gergel ploy.)

In my experience, it doesn't work to unfriend and block Gergel-passers in an attempt to extricate yourself from this particular cul-de-sac of the Network. And if my experience is typical, you might suddenly start receiving an avalanche of Gergels, if you do. Shockingly, many may come from well known arts-and-crafts style mail artists. The fact that this type of harassment is relational violence (a fancy term for mobbing and/or bullying and gossip), won't be acknowledged. Research has shown that groups who resort to mobbing, strengthen and reinforce their shared identity -- which is endorphin city -- so don't expect it to stop. The tone of your received mail may change. You might feel yourself wordlessly categorized as uncool, as if you were an enemy of free speech and mailart, because Gergel is mis-categorized as a rebel-hero and martyr, not as a sociopath. You're suddenly the problem, not the identity thief, and not the people passing his productions. Classic DARVO.

It goes against mailart ethos to reject the objects received, and worse, to reject Network mail artists/non-artists themselves, so perhaps some feel compelled to retaliate by filling the post box of a non-conforming, self-selected Network member who asserts boundaries, with that which s/he has rejected.

As far as I can see, harassment is the shadow of the Eternal Network, and there is no tradition of whistleblowing and protecting victims. It goes against our self-image to think that even a single one of us should be excluded from the Network. I think we would prefer to categorize people who lose faith and drop out as simply not being Network/mailart material -- self-selecting out as they self-selected in -- the social convention being to accept the high level of attrition and not pry into the individual experience of those who leave.  Just accept the mystery. The Eternal Network is supposed to be self-regulating by definition. But it's a definition that presumes a level playing field that does not exist.

A prominent mail artist/non-artist told me that the way in which they handle Gergels is to just archive them. I wish I had done so instead of engaging and getting dog-piled, but I received my first Gergel from someone I naively admired and trusted, and I felt as if I were obliged to deal with it. I shouldn't have felt that way.

The person was disingenuous, and I found out with a little research that they were aware of Gergel's history. The content I received could have rivaled Caligula in perversion, (not to say that all Gergel content is controversial). Since I subsequently unfriended two and blocked three Gergelites, I have been receiving Gergels left-and-right. I just opened a piece from the quarantine-pile, and it contains two 'Shirley Gergels.'  I'm reluctant to open my quarantined postbox mail because it might have been sent with hostile intent, and isn't the pandemic enough to deal with? Do I also have to worry about backlash because I am unfriending and blocking the Gergel-posse? Obviously, yes, because I fractured at least one mailart more (pronounced mor-ay, like the eel), and probably several.

This was my written description -- to the person who advised me just to archive Gergels -- of how the Gergel-experience has been affecting me since last October: "I look at my position at IUoMA as, at best, a mere garbage can for toxic mail, and a toy for insider Schadenfreude."

Please take the advice that I requested too late. If you receive a Gergel, just archive the damned thing.

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on May 24, 2020 at 1:46pm

Names in my mail are developing into real people!

Comment by Fleur Helsingor on May 23, 2020 at 7:20pm

Yes, I dropped in at Snap+Share for a short visit. It was a wonderful exhibition and I was glad to see John Held, The Sticker Dude, Joey Patrickt, and several other mail artists that I've met in the mail. 

Speaking of Carol Canfield: when I went to pick up my mail yesterday afternoon, there was an envelope from her containing two completed ATC trio jams and a new set of trio jam starters, along with a short note and some ephemera. She's keeping busy. 

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on May 23, 2020 at 3:19pm

Fleur ... Back in February a friend went to the special event day at Hazel Jones and Mike Leigh's CURIOUS THINGS mail art exhibition in Manchester (UK), came away with the document from the SNAP+SHARE MAIL ART CONGRESS AT SFMOMA, which she's just passed on to me - and I see your name listed as a participant!

Comment by William M on May 23, 2020 at 6:21am

thanks for clearing that up fleur!

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on May 22, 2020 at 9:21pm

Thanks, Fleur!

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