Recently I've seen several "altered" pieces -- in particular one piece that I received also and when mine arrived it did not say "add and return" or anything like that. Is it always OK to add to or alter other's MA pieces? Should you ask the creator of the piece first? Also, some pieces just feel like fully realized pieces of art as is.

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I think the receiver can always alter as he or she wishes.
Personally spoken, I prefer to keep my received mail as I received it. But sometimes I've seen pieces of my own mail art, sent to others, cut out and used in the receivers new mail art. The first time I noticed that, I thought 'ouch', it hurt in some way. But at the same time I realised - and agreed! - that this is all in the mail art game. That even the art we created by ourselves with love and effort, and thoughts of long lasting 'forever' pieces of mail art, is allowed to be altered and recycled into new art.
So, speaking for myself, I wouldn't dare or even want to alter someone else's mail art (unless it is an add-and-pass or unless he or she explicitly asks for it).
But by sending my mail art to others, I know the 'risk' of the mail art being altered is a reality and I accept that.
thanks for your thoughtful reply, Heleen. I think I agree with you. I will only make changes when invited by the maker of the piece.

My sentiments exactly, Heleen. 

Commonly referred to as "Add and Pass"
However if the item is not add & pass....

i have been asked this before.
To which i alway firmly reply that,
first and foremost,
That there are no rules in mailart, only social etiquette.

I came to mailart because it is a free expression.
To limit the expression of others in a limitless artform is counter productive to the cause.

Sometimes the death art i receive from others needs to be together and it is my job to make what should now be from what exists.

Should you ask before you defile it?

I say no...
They sent it to you & now it inspires you...

When i see my death mail appear randomly,
I smile because i have inspired someone to be creative with my art.

You really miss out if you dont do it IMO
thanks Poison. I like making what should be out of what exists. I will proceed with caution and respect.
Art is a process....
Sometimes it takes a village...


When I send something out I totally feel it is a gift to that person to do with whatever suits them. We all know there are pieces we receive that we love and treasure and some, well, meh.....why not recycle?? It's true I don't think I've sent anything back to the original creator or even been moved to post it prominently , which maybe feels like there's still something a bit unresolved here about it.....but I especially would never want to feel that I made someone guilty about hanging on to something I've sent that maybe wants to be tossed in the garbage or recycled in some creative (or un-) way. I just received a postcard that says it's a 2002 (I think) recycled piece of mail. I don't know which part of it is original, if any, but I like this idea. 

lorsque je crée un Art Postal déjà quel plaisir ce passage  par la création

!! Le fait de le destiner à quelqu'un est encore un plus de joiecar nous l'offrir

.Lorsque je l'envoie ,j'éprouve de la joie , c'est un cadeau particulier .Mon imagination fertile vagabonde. Car avant de parvenir à son destinaire,.Il me plait de penser tout d'abord au cheminement de ce courrier si particulier ." J’espère toujours que les services postaux vont en prendre soin, qu'ils aient du plaisir aussi à la découverte de cet Art" "que les diverses chemins empreintes par ma création provoquent des sourires, interpelle benefiquement des réactions.J éprouve beaucoup de bonheur à le créer et aussi j'éprouve beaucoup de bonheur lorsque j'en découvre un dans ma boite aux lettres.Cela embellit ma vie , mon cœur , mes pensées.Il ne nous appartient plus dés que nous l'avons posté...Personnellement ceux que je reçois sont chacun précieux à mes yeux , je les conserve  précieusement et ne les recyclerait pas car ce sont des créations originales et uniques.Mais chacun est libre de son ressentit et utilisation . Car l' Art Postal n'est il pas un Art libre? Je respecte donc le choix de chacun .Mais comme précise JAN, cela aussi doit faire plaisir que de nouveau recyclé.

I think it is only common decency to ask first, sending the altered art, privately, to the author showing the change, before making it public.And of course clearly acknowledging the combined authorship in the final piece. 

But at the same time i agree that our artwork should not be made a static monument, after all mail Art is supposed to be effimera.

From the very beginning, I knew that in Mail Art it is customary sometimes to supplement and rework the received object without asking permission. There are no inscription "Add_and_Pass" on the object, but it is still greatly changed and supplemented, and returned to me in this form. Personally, I hate it very much, and yet I have to endure this part of the philosophy of Mail Art. As the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do. You've got to play the game according to the local rules.".

I agree with Heleen. I cannot alter somebody else's piece unless asked to do it but if somebody does alter mine I do not mind. Once I finish a piece it is dead to me. The only piece of mine I care about is the one in hand. That is only a personal point of view of course and other artists think differently so I opt for respecting the art I receive, just in case. I may pass it on but in its pristine state. Anyhow, my mind is always bursting with ideas to which I have not the time to give form. Why would I need or want to destroy, transform or otherwise alter somebody else's work?



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