I'd like to hear other members' opinions on something. Would you rather be asked if you would like to receive an add & pass, or would you rather just have them arrive in your mailbox without warning?
It would be nice to hear from as many people as possible.
I love surprise mail!!! Especially add and passes!!
Hi Carolyn! I love receiving surprises in the mail, including add and passes. However, some mail artists don't like add and passes. I say just send out mail art to your heart's content. If the recipient doesn't like add and passes, they can send it to someone else.
Opinions are always interesting. I agree with Erica's comments in terms of add and pass.
I've noticed lately some of the newer people have been very tentative about sending mail art, asking questions that suggest they believe there are complex rules and etiquette. That simply is not the case.
If you have been on the IUOMA platform for a while you will see many people write: "In mail art there are no rules." This has been the practice for over 50 years. Incredibly, it has worked.
Accepting with an open mind what someone sends you is an important part of the network: mutual support and understanding. The ma network has always been a place where like-minded people supported each other.
That's why I wrote a blog when an unnamed French mail artist returned an a&p to me refusing to participate. That is just so unusual! I haven't had someone return something in DECADES. I suppose people can return things with mean notes. But why would they be in the network to begin with?
You can create permissions processes so that people will only get what they want and/or not be offended. BUT those are your own personal rules. Nothing says they apply to anyone else's exchanges. I wouldn't want people to think this sort of discussion results in policy.
And the idea of chance has always driven the network.
People are here to make and exchange art. Why don't you do that? We're not here to make rules. Trying to be considerate - I get that. But people might grow by trying new things.
I have of late begun to receive more of these and at first, was not so sure if I liked them, or not.
Now I find they are growing on me. More and more I find them intriguiging. They make me consider what I could add, IF I should add something and how it adds to or connects to what is already there. Recently I received one that has gone round the world with at least 7 people's names on it. It appears quite full to me. While I can squeeze an addition or two, how to know when is it "finished"? If I do not know who started it, should I return it to a previous mail artist? Keep it? Pass it on again anyway???????
So many choices - I would like to hear from some of you. Thanks.
Interesting that you should ask! I just received the first that I felt was complete, and it was fun just to think how excited the originator was going to be when she got it back and could think of all the places it had been and how it evolved! But then you’d have to know where it came from.
What is your heart telling you to do? That’s generally how I operate, anyway. Maybe other people would get a kick out of just seeing it, or maybe (like the one I just mentioned) you feel like it’s time for it to head home. Either way, you’re making someone happy...including your very dear self if you just hang onto it.
So many possibilities!
Re-reading the comments, I can see some folks are hazy on the add & pass idea.
Add & pass is one of the true artistic forms mail art has contributed to the art world (probably derived from DaDaist collaborative drawings and collages.)
Ray Johnson would send out sheets that said: "Please add and return to Ray Johnson (address)." Some had even more complicated instructions in terms of themes and people who should participate. (But no set RULES for a^p in general.) Usually the sheet should indicate that SOMEONE should received the a & p when full.
Anyone can start an a &p.
But I have noted "Ghost ship" a&ps that have been circling the globe for years & years. I think this is so cool! Now we can share the historic ones on the internet.
You can make copies like a chain letter. People used to do that.
If you don't like a&p and receive one, just put it in an envelope with other stuff and pass it to someone else. Do your bit for the network! Keep stuff flowing! Otherwise, you're unwittingly contributing to a censorship process.
When I first started receiving m-a in the 70s it was coming out of NYC and mostly the old Ray Johnson and Fluxus crowd.
Those people mailed BAGS of stuff (postage was cheap) with work by DOZENS of artists in a single mailing. There was a & p, collage, rants, books, weird objects - you had to figure it out for yourself. I'm not saying things have to stay the same, but that is how it started.
I’ve been doing mailart for a long time and I enjoy the freedom that I am accustomed to, but that’s just me. I realize that things change and that other people have differing opinions. The only mailart types I participated in with specified rules were public shows (size, media, due dates, or themes) and group swaps asking that each artist sends enough that every participant receives a copy and that you send a SASE so the person hosting the swap doesn’t bear the cost of postage.
I’m a mailart fossil and curious about how people old and new feel about every type of mailart. I’m enjoying all the comments. Keep them coming!
I just received an add and pass that said, “Please return to Ray Johnson.” I’m trying to beam it to him psychically. If you would like to add to it, please do the same.
I think it's great that there are groups on the network you can join to say that you specifically want to receive them. They're not my favorite form of mail art, but I try to keep 'em moving along. I love ATC Jams, however, and belong to a number of different Jammers groups. To each her own.
I am perfectly happy with no warning. I love getting happy mail!
I love having it arrive unexpected!