I am an artist who periodically exhibits his work in both solo and group shows. I am also an artist-member of a substantial non-profit gallery. This is all to say that I am familiar with "normal" exhibition methods and standards for fine art; however, in my upcoming exhibition "This is Just Mail Art," scheduled for September 2014, I really want to avoid the standards and the norms of gallery presentation.

I am serious about making mail art, and even more serious about "collecting" the wonderful work from correspondents around the world. However, I would prefer not to treat these art objects as something "precious." I really like the anti-art nature of mail art, and I want to hold onto and "exhibit" the fun factor, informality, and non-exclusivity of our enterprise. I want to capture a bit of that Fluxus irreverence not only in the pieces exhibited, but in the ehibition itself.

On the other hand, I am not drawn to the sorts of exhibitions I have seen in many pix here at IUOMA-Ning: the plain white walls papered top to bottom with pinned or taped or otherwise generically mounted pieces. I have started this discussion to see what brilliant ideas this brilliantly creative community might offer when it comes to exhibition methods that truly convey what it is we are all about. Among ideas I am entertaining is hanging bits from thread or fishing line and having visitors navigate a maze of amazing mail art, or setting up informal "coffee tables" spread with mail art pieces that visitors can touch, turn over, play with, even steal? or spill coffee on???

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I have wondered about the same issue and have not come to conclusions yet. This will be an interesting discussion!

Yes, great topic. I bet there is much history here. Anyone have pics?

Ray Johnson's NY Correspondance School show(s) were in the Whitney, weren't they?

John Held Jr. wrote about that alternative "museum" George Maciunas established in Massachusetts in the '70s. He built very nice wooden cabinets where the work was stored. Visitors were free to take things out of the cabinet and view them on a table, so it was interactive.

There is much. much more.

I am looking to you as resident art historian of the movement to fill us in, DVS!  ;-}

Dan - I'm a student on this one, but I bet there are IUOMA folks who know about some great shows - lots of stuff in Europe.

Don't exhibit in the gallery proper.

Put the Mail Art in the window of the Gallery so that passers by can see it.

Use the gallery space  for coffee and Do-It-Yourself mail art -- make something and we'll stick it in the sinwo and add it to the exhibition.

(But note that you might get lots and lots of Mail Art -- my last exhibition had 1150+ pieces)

Anyone remember "The Book About Death" exhibit in NYC in September, 2009?

I could not attend, but it had to be fantastic. Of course the mail artists had made 200 (?) copies

of their art and they were stacked, and attendees could pass by, look, and "take" (not steal)

a card from as many artists as they wish.

Sounds like the ultimate thing to do! Cool..

Nice! I would have liked to be there!

Great concept, MomKat, but since my project is open media/size/etc., having multiples won't work. I really am leaning towards having pieces strewn about on tables, or perhaps in numerous boxes with notes telling folks to grab some, have a seat, pour some coffee, and peruse to their hearts' contents.

Not mail-art, but related, to give you the sense of a heady era. My parents wouldn't let me go. A lot people got in. Everson has done some big m-a shows since then.


this link is from Roland Halbritters call 3 years ago, he has monters of glass but I like how the mail hangs inside them, you can see this in the first video. Open cabinettes being able to interact in them sounds nice, so skip the glass..


Thanks for sharing that one, E.H. I agree. The cabinets are cool, but...no glass. And I will extend to no frames, no pedestals. I really want this show I'm working on to be interactive. I liked the idea of the world map illustrating the origins of the works.




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