Mail-art by IUOMA member Jon Foster, North Carolina, USA
October 30, 2010 - This is my favorite piece by Jon Foster received thus far. I've been thinking about Jon's discussion concerning Punk mail-art here at the IUOMA. So my first response to this piece was: X-Ray Spex! I just adore Poly Styrene. Before I move in earnest to a self-serving, manipulative, and exploitive discussion of Punk mail-art, have a gander at the front of this post-card size piece by Jon:
Nice one all around Jon - appreciate it greatly, as ever. Now on to this Punk NoveauX mail-art thing Jon is encouraging. Below is a sort of re-enactment of Punk mail-art using real examples from my archives as possible inspiration for people thinking of getting involved in Jon's project. What follows is for historic documentation. But be aware, those were really different times; and this isn't for everyone. Punk was an aesthetic. Punk set out to offend people. Punk developed a specific kind of anti-art. Yet it is a glimpse of a phase at least some portion of the mail-art community passed through.
Authentic Punk mail-art-zine page from the 1980s. Music and mail-art often shared the stage in these publications. Can anybody tell me who the guy with the pipe was? He was a standard fixture in everything from that era in the U.S.
Reconstructed below is, what was for me, a typical Punk mail-art exchange:
1) I would receive this or something similar to this in the mail:
Above is authentic Punk mail-art from the 1980s I received (NOT by me). It's some kind of liquid splattered on a photocopier. The two frames are titled: "Creation" and "Destruction."
If I received Punk mail-art like this in the Punk Era, my response would have been to send a note back to the mail-artist something like this:
What is this XXXX you sent? You are a sick XXXXX. Did I give you my permission to send me your XXXXX? You disgust me. The mail arrives when I'm trying to force down this xxxxxx coffee. I'm not feeling so great already, got it? Like seizures not feeling well, OK? I get this XXXX you sent and I'm XXXXXXX in dry heaves now, XXXXX. I would send you something of mine to show you how it's done. But I puked on the only mailart I've made in 3 months because of you - XXXX XXXXX. I would love to spit on this XXXX and send it back. But I already have this XXXXXXX problem with the fascist postal authorities because of XXXXX Reagan. Can't mail bodily fluids. So I'm sending this note to tell you not to send me any more of this xxxx.
PS - The address says XXXXX. I thought they lynched XXXXX like you down there.
(2) With this kind of nurturing and encouragement, wouldn't you know another piece of mail-art by the same person would arrive about a week later for another critique. It would probably look something like this:
Above is authentic Punk mail-art from the 1980s I received (not by me). A photo-copied collage. This was the Golden Age of photocopy art, in my opinion, as epitomized by Meikal And's Xeoxial Editions in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. With the arrival of a second missive something like this during the Punk Era, I probably have written a response like this:
Hey again xxxx,
Thanks for the autobiography I didn't ask for XXXXXX - or is this a copy of your XXXXXX intake report? I bet your mother is proud of you. Her approval must be really important, as you are obviously fighting for your life to hold on to that little world of your own in her BASEMENT. And poetry! I didn't realize I was dealing with Jello Biafra's XXXXX. Look, moron. Give up on the mail-art idea. Go work for an insurance company or join the army. When you XXXX that up at least you'll be doing something to help The Revolution.
PS - One more of these pieces and I'm getting on a bus and coming down there to hand-deliver the response, Got it, Rimbaud?
It could go on indefinitely. That's what it was like, honest. I'll wrap this with one final piece from the archives that is probably about as Punk as you could find and from the peak years. Signed by the artist:
:) ;) :)
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