RECEIVED: More Monkey Business (ATC) from Cheryl Penn (Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa)

Mail-art by IUOMA member Cheryl Penn (Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa)


June 16, 2011 - Cheryl Penn sent a wonderfully ornate ATC (Artist Trading Card) enclosed in the envelope above and bearing the symbol of the red monkey.


Her work explores and extends the ATC form remarkably. Cheryl has a penchant for weaving narratives combining text and image. "When Madeleine recounts the details of a bad dream" combined with the cryptic primate symbol and "TWELVE" begins the process of moving us into a multi-faceted story. In this blog, I want to explore how the process of composition builds meaning in her work, sort of a guide to use when you delve into art you receive from Cheryl.


First, here is the other side of the envelope:


I think the red monkeys are outstanding in this piece. From previous discussions, it has been well established that a sub-text or reference to another work - I'll call it a shadow text - is usually present in Cheryl's work. The reference provides a valuable key to making meaning. I think it is also a way she connects her work to a broader cultural context and sensibility.


One striking example is the reference to H. G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" in her "wounds" pieces. Once you make the connection, the possibilities multiply. You do not have to find the reference to understand and appreciate Cheryl's work, but locating them opens the field considerably.


In the case of this red monkey ATC, it's fairly easy (but I checked anyway) to see the 1995 film "12 Monkeys" serves as Cheryl's shadow text. I think it's a good film and might be worth refreshing your memory if you haven't seen it recently:


Here is one side of the ATC itself:



At first I thought this was a cut-up poem, but it came more into focus. This is a somewhat disjunctive description of "Twelve Monkeys" that focuses on the particular aspect of "false memories." Further references are mapped out. "Twelve Monkeys" is derived from an earlier short French film (1962) and critics have also noted its references to Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Vertigo" (1958) - thus VERTIGO stamped on the card.


Both "Twelve Monkeys" and "Vertigo" are considered psychological films: They explore subjective states and delve into the psycho-analytic, including pathologies. Delving into the minds of characters and representing the objective and subjective has always presented a particular challenge to filmmakers. It is also an area to which Cheryl Penn returns frequently. You need only look at the vacillation between abstraction and more conventional representation in her work to see it's a primary interest; one that is not resolved. 


Here's the other side of the ATC. A powerful image:


My reaction is that this is a play on hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil; the presenting image of the monkey is indeed a thread holding this together.


All I have managed to do in this lengthy blog is disassemble Cheryl's ATC, locate components, and identity some references. Having spent some time over the previous months analyzing her work, it seems to me this is a good approach to take. After all this shredding and deconstructing, the task - the most important task - is to find a meaning that suits you and that is true to the intent of the artist. I am certain it is there and well-worth the exploration.


As ever, thanks for another great piece, Cheryl! To see more work by Cheryl Penn and mail-art she has received please visit:

Views: 51


You need to be a member of International Union of Mail-Artists to add comments!

Join International Union of Mail-Artists

Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 27, 2011 at 5:04am
Mon cher, je suis un pirate sur la voile de l'océan - un Jolly Roger. Le garçon de lumière est le perroquet sur ​​mon épaule. Je nourris l'arachide. Il frettes et allures. Je recherche d'un trésor. Les cerisiers en fleurs est mon trésor le plus précieux au monde.
Comment by Marie Wintzer on June 22, 2011 at 5:21am

DW, did you see that ZuPreem has a full line of bird food? You can't keep feeding DVS peanuts.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 22, 2011 at 3:31am

I had to check and wouldn't you know, you can buy processed monkey food. I suppose it's for people who have pet monkeys, for zoos, and maybe lab monkeys. Is there any market that has not been exploited? Marie, monkeys that are confined run the risk of obesity and health problems. I'd keep the sponge cake treats limited. (This blog is sponsored by the makers of ZuPreem - keeping the monkey off your back since 1933.)

Comment by Marie Wintzer on June 20, 2011 at 10:37am
Ok. I'll bring sponge cake. I know they like that too.
Comment by cheryl penn on June 20, 2011 at 8:32am

Zero Snits. Snits are NOT allowed, Monkeys prefer paw-paws not goobers ;-). You're invited to breakfast on the veranda. 


Comment by Marie Wintzer on June 20, 2011 at 4:45am

I was JUST about to say that once again a nice and serious blog has been hijacked into kindergarden playground.

So sorry ;-((  big Sis, come back!!

Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 20, 2011 at 4:11am

shell we go? still trying to butter her up? big sis is in a snit because u hijacked her blog. 

Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 20, 2011 at 3:00am
Peanut butter? Peanut butter & jelly? Pretty much sums up the totality of the land of my birth. What many of us eat three times a day. Do they make peanuts anywhere else in the world? The southern U.S. is the heartland of peanuts, places like Georgia and Alabama. Here's some real Americana for you: During our Civil War, peanuts were called Goober Peas.
Comment by Marie Wintzer on June 20, 2011 at 12:56am

Pour ton petit dejeuner

Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 19, 2011 at 3:41pm

More comments from the Peanut Gallery



Want to support the IUOMA with a financial gift via PayPal?

The money will be used to keep the IUOMA-platform alive. Current donations keep platform online till 1-jan-2022. If you want to donate to get IUOMA-publications into archives and museums please mention this with your donation. It will then be used to send some hardcopy books into museums and archives. You can order books yourself too at the IUOMA-Bookshop. That will sponsor the IUOMA as well.










© 2021   Created by Ruud Janssen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service