December 19, 2010 - Jen Staggs' chapter for the "What Alexander Conquered in 2010" mail-art collaborative book project is set in New Orleans, Louisiana. USA. Seventeen mail-artists from across the globe are participating. The "Alexander" concept was created by South African Cheryl Penn, who is coordinating the effort here at the IUOMA. Alexander's time in New Orleans does not appear to be an attempt at conquest. Like so many others, he is content to take in the sights, shown to us via Jan's camera lens (I have long admired her photography) and enhanced with her trademark textile work:
New Orleans is one of my favorite U.S. cities too, so I greatly appreciate this. I cannot look at Jen's pictures, however, without thinking about the suffering and loss in that wonderful city and all the hardship people have had to endure. The French Quarter fared better than most precincts of that historic town.
New Orleans is such a unique center of culture, and that is expressed to the world especially through its music. Jen seems to be building an impressive photo collection for documentation. I've seen other pics she has taken of the interiors of those fascinating shops in the Quarter, and she has a real talent for capturing the moods and tones of those places.
Some great lines to go with the images too: "meandering through cities of the dead" in that vast New Orleans cemetery. These are great exteriors, and I especially like the shot on the right of one of those classic Louisiana houses that you see spread throughout the Deep South of the US: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. (When someone mails me a Fluxus-Tupelo stamp, I'll know we all have really arrived.) It's just a simple fact these states don't have a high concentrations of mail-artists compared to other places, so this terrain could be unfamiliar to many in the network.
Jen Staggs has done a lot of very expressive work with old bottles, ceramics, and related items - still life studies of a sort. These pics are, for me, a nice ending for the chapter in contrast to the panoramic sweep of the other pages. The "Alexander" mail-art book project has provided unusual perspectives on places both familiar and not well known. The bonus for participants is that each has a crafted author's book as the end result of the project. Thank you, Jen, for the addition of your chapter.
The most direct approach isn't always the best. Ring-tailed animal.
On this day in mail-art history: The first time I ever blogged Jen Staggs' work, I posted the opening photo upside down.
Mail-art color for the day: Vanilla