Mail art by IUOMA member Dopesick SF aka DSF (Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA)
December 2, 2015 - I have already gone on record saying that if I were compelled (Lord forbid) to compile a Top Ten List of the best mail artists working today, Dopesick SF (San Francisco) aka DSF would be on that list. In fact, DSF would likely be very high on that list [no pun intended], although I do not want to assign an actual number. (Top Ten lists are not in the spirit of mail art, I realize, so I am writing this mostly to make a point rather than propose a popularity chart.)
DSF has constructed and perpetuates a memorable persona, which might ultimately be the single most important factor when it comes to attaining legend status in the Eternal Network. When you receive their mail or find the artist’s work on the web, you have to be able to imagine the person behind it for the whole thing to work (I'm convinced). Ultimately, you (we the recipients) need to feel some personal connection to the sender. This is true in many genres. With mail art, it moves to the forefront. Thus you have the fascination with identity in mail art that, for instance, inspired the Neoists to create multiple user identities such as Monty Cantsin and Karen Eliot. Moan Lisa today is ultimately an ongoing identity experiment.
With DSF, and this might be surprising to some, there is actually an uplifting message if you look closely. DSF has a rare gift of timing. Just when you are about to dismiss DSF as someone’s exercise in nihilism and repugnance, some message so impossibly redeeming and profound comes through that you stick with the unfolding narrative just a bit longer. And DSF is no slouch at marketing either. DSF also has a strong aesthetic sense (albeit grounded in Punk anti-art) and is tirelessly innovative, which brings us to Karina the Dog.
I am thrilled to have received a signed card from DSF’s faithful companion, Karina the Dog.
I have also noted in contemporary mail art that a number of artists’ pets have risen to a kind of stardom or at least network cult status. The pretzel logic of this happening is inescapable. The best known of these is Snooky the Amazing Mail Art Dog (Wisconsin, USA), the pet of Angie Cope. Snooky, for instance, has traded mail with classes of school children in Europe, among other activities. Diane Keys’ cat Salem has some notoriety, mostly due to the pervasive nature of DKult, I think.
Like everywhere else, contemporary mail art has an abundance of cuddly cats and bunnies (thank you, Ray Johnson). An interesting quality of Karina the Dog is that she is not warm and fuzzy at all. If anything, she is a bit menacing (but unquestionably, entirely devoted to DSF). This seeming anomaly (animals should be depicted as warm and friendly) is the essence of the brilliance of Karina the Dog. She provides support for the visualization of the DSF character. She is an anti art metaphor, and she contributes to the construction of the art reality of DSF. (Because onfusing mail art reality with real life can sometimes lead to disaster.)
Karina the Dog has recently been iconized in Ryosuke Cohen’s Brain Cell. CrackerJack Kid has created a Karina the Dog homage. And yes (no kidding) you can purchase a Karina the Dog tee-shirt. So I am thrilled to have Karina the Dog memorabilia for the MinXus Archives. And if you are a mail art animal fan, make sure to check out Karina the Dog if you haven’t already.