Aesthetics & Anti-Art by Brooke Cooks (Seattle, Washington, USA)

Brooke - 1.19.2015 - 1

Mail-art by IUOMA member Brooke Cooks (Seattle, Washington, USA)

January 19, 2015 - I first received mail-art from Brooke Cooks last October and am now pleased to share a second batch. She has an interest in Trashpo and found material, but this beautiful collage I am so thrilled to have received reveals an aesthetic sensibility that can hardly be considered anti-art (much but not all Trashpo can be viewed as anti-art). She included a kind message on the reverse side:

Brooke - 1.19.2015 - 2

I am happy to share what I know about mail-art and the Eternal Network. I am more than happy to have readers! Brooke Cooks does have a point. Ray Johnson-oriented mail-art, which is where I come from ultimately, has strong ties to conceptual art. Conceptual art is highly theoretical. Visual poetry, concrete poetry, asemic writing and related forms that thrive in the network (largely due to Fluxus) often lead to a healthy dose of theory when one tries to explain them. Despite these strains and sub-groups, mail-art remains egalitarian and an activity open to anyone. Much can be learned from looking into mail-art’s over half century of history as well as current trends. That should never stop anyone from participating or following their own artistic inclinations.

Following Trashpo tradition, Brooke Cooks sent some unaltered, found material:

Brooke - 1.19.2015 - 3

These items have multiple possibilities in mail-art. Brooke Cooks compels me to meditate upon how human connections to people and places are formed through the circulation of objects and unaltered material.

Trashpo supports this circulation (as well as recycling). In the add and pass spirit, they can be used and shared further; but the recipient might choose to keep them as permanent mementoes of friendship. Often in Trashpo, these sorts of items seem to have been selected because they have a talismanic quality or communicate a cryptic message. (Pure randomness is used by some as well.) Brooke Cooks’ reality and environment are illuminated through this material for me. Narratives are suggested. Many recycle this kind of material into art. I am far more likely to save it and archive it.

The work arrived in a great envelope:

Brooke - 1.19.2015 - 4

And the reverse:

Brooke - 1.19.2015 - 5

Many thanks to Brooke Cooks!

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Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 20, 2015 at 12:02am

Hi Rebecca. You're probably referring to keeping things people send you for collabs rather than using them to make art and sharing.

That steers this into True Confession time. If I receive an add and pass with a lot of great material on it, I will keep it. I do feel guilty but not enough to let it go if like it and the contributors.

Sometimes Ruud Janssen circulates sheets where he is trying to collect all sorts of different stamps for his TAM thing. They circulate all over the world. They tend to attract some really great contributions. I've held on to a couple because I just couldn't part with them. They're just too great, and I know it's really wrong because it's a serious and important archival project.

Those are my confessions. Can anyone match that? (You see? Mail-art does have rules in that sense.)

Comment by Rebecca Guyver on January 19, 2015 at 10:08pm

Beautiful work!

Comment by Rebecca Guyver on January 19, 2015 at 10:08pm

I save and archive too.  Sometimes it feels greedy.

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