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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thank you, in this video you can see a whole lot of different ideas for display, nice.

Hi Dan, I've had three pop up exhibitions this year, all very small scale and homespun, maybe that's not what you'r after... They have run for 2 weeks, two days and one day.  I also had one America the summer before.  That one was in a community centre and it had to be moveable as other things had to go on some of the time too.  It's always been a mad rush to get the stuff up, so not always as aesthetic as hoped...Top one, Edinburgh in a community coffee shop. Second in a library in Suffolk. Third one in a house in Essex.  4th is in Maine.  5th is all of Simon Warren's stuff.  Sorry it isn't the right way up, will try to right it, if I can...

Thanks, Rebecca. There are some cool ideas in these pictures. I'm really fond of the pink clothes pins! :-}

I think having informal exhibits in coffee shops is a good idea, but my show is in a gallery...a very nice gallery space at that, so I will try to walk the line that says "This is serious art, well worth the experience, but it's not for sale; it's not precious; it's not reserved for the domains of the privileged, the educated, or even the talented."

Guy Bleus did gigantic m-a shows in France or Belgium?

You could get some wire and eye bolts to attach the wire 6-8" from the wall, with two levels of wire running horizontal.  You need to use turnbuckles on ea. wire to keep it taught.  Use wooden clothes pins to attach postcards.  Put up signs that say the spectator can remove postcards to examine.

This only works on postcard size ma but the larger items could go on a table.  This method looks clean and is usually under $100.

Make sure the eye bolts go into a stud- if you have metal studs I think you would need to use butterfly anchors and shorten the wire 'run'.  If you do two levels of wire, kids can participate on the lower one.

Michael Orr's Zalop (Ruud's Fluxus word) show in Atlanta sounds like it's going to be great - and I gather it's intermedia with music, performance & interaction. If Pone is around, maybe he could share.

Fluxus is always about breaking the barrier between audience and art. So many of the events were Happenings. My point with the Yoko exhibition was that it was interactive: They gave people gas masks to wear & instructed them to crawl around on the floor looking at the tiles rather than things hung on the gallery walls.

Many of the Flux folks seem to be doing things with food these days.

Be aware of the entire sensory experience, whether it is or isn't considered art.

Fluxus performances (described on Event Scores) are very simple things like pouring water from one glass into another, disassembling a musical instrument, rubbing your hands with cream to more invasive practices like destroying pianos, etc.

Intermedia is what DVS is getting at, I think.  Multiple things going on all at once, some with chance involved.  Those digital frames might come in handy, where you display digital images in a loop, but it might need to be carefully done so it doesn't look out of place.

Don't just think about the Exhibition.

Instead think about the PROCESS of the Exhibition...what becomes before, and, hopefully what comes after it.

Any idiot can arrange a Mail Art Exhibition. I know that, because I'm an idiot, and I've organised several Mail Art Exhibitions.

The Process is much more interesting:

i) how do you get the exhibits before your Exhibition opens?

 * In my experience it's great fun to work with local groups --of artists, of art classes, and, especially of young school kids. Reach out to them --involve them. Organise Workshops for them. Go to their Workshops. Invite them to D-I-Y Mail art sessions in the Gallery. Go to the schools and colleges. Tell (preach?) to them about Mail Art.

 * Distribute material (blanks post cards, envelopes, etc) at cultural centers, libraries etc, with information about what the Exhibition and Mail Art are about. Invite people to make up an exhibit and post it, or even better, bring it to the Exhibition.

ii) What do you want to happen after the Exhibition when you've taken everything down and emptied the gallery (and its windows)? Do you want to leave a lasting 'foorprint' in which Mail Art will thrive in your community? Do you want to get local groups and schools interested in it as an ongoing cultural activity?

Don't just focus on the Exhibition.

Look at the before and after.



Spread The True Word, Reverand Dan.


Hi Dan--If you look at the top of Mypage on IUOMA, yo will see that John Held, Jr. used shelves on the wall to display the works (in envelopes, other packaging). There were postcards, etc. Visitors were free to read and examine/handle the pieces. There were signs asking viewers to return the mail art to the original envelope/packaging.

I've also seen mail art suspended on fish line as you described. Other display options I've seen: house mail boxes with the front open and mail spilling out; place card holders for post cards. What was really popular at my display was a table for 'making your own mail art'. I cut up heavy weight bond paper into postcards size and had magic markers, rubber stamps and ink pads, a box loaded with ephemera, and glue sticks. Visitors could take their creations home to mail out.  Both kids and adults loved it. I also had reference material for visitors to take. Good luck!

DVS: I was a denizon of NYC in the late 60s. I worked as a filmmaker and as a writer-editor, mostly for the undeground press. I remember some the happenings. I even remember being painted by artist Yayoi Kusama's naked body painters. In my case it was in her studio, but her crew of naked young ladies also painted themselves and random passers-by on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I'll admit that at this point in my life any happenings I get involved in are more likely to involve getting local city kids to make art and share it with strangers by mail. :-)

Don't be shy, Dan. Please share with us any photos you might have from your naked body painting sessions. I'm sure they'll be more interesting than discussing the guage of wire to hang or the configuration of shelves Mail Art on which Mal Art can be stacked.

Here's hoping... val

Carmela, thanks for some neat ideas. I think I will definitely have to find a way to have visitors make some mail art. Your comments also led me to John Held's page. Some of his essays talk about early exhibits but not in detail. Maybe I can get him into this conversation as well.




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