Mail-art by IUOMA member meeah williams (Brooklyn, New York, USA)
September 25, 2014 - Trashbooks are among Trashpo’s most enduring contributions to the Eternal Network, and meeah williams is becoming a master of the form. This time she sent me a spectacular trashbook using highly shredded newspaper, barely held together with red thread. The work constantly threatens to unravel, and this near-deconstructive aspect is part of its allure.
According to the records of the venerable TrashPo Litzer Prize (Trashpo’s highest honor), the trashbook was invented by Diane Keys (Illinois, USA) in 2011. Like much early Trashpo, DK’s first trashbook took an anti-art stance (the work itself is made partially from found, burnt materials). Records also indicate that soon after DK’s work was released, other trashpoets in 2011 immediately began creating “aesthetic trashbooks” that were a reaction against DK’s perceived extreme position.
Nancy Bell Scott (Maine, USA) and Cheryl Penn (South Africa) are credited with having created the first aesthetic trashbooks. Marie Wintzer (Japan) wrote a blog post, “A Trashbook Without Trash,” championing Nancy Bell Scott’s work while decrying Trashpo’s disinterest in, if not outright contempt for, traditional beauty, harmony, unity, etc.
The aesthetic trashbook has tended to dominate in recent years, and meeah williams’ work here represents, I believe, a return to the earlier, raw. anti-art aesthetic. Even her choice to use newspaper fragments exclusively speaks volumes, as opposed to material from high-end fashion magazines and art journals that often appear in aesthetic trashbooks. In short, meeah williams’ book has the qualities of assault, violation and disruption rather than pleasing image combinations.
However, when one examines the amazing wordplay and incremental repetition of images (with a strong emphasis on expressive faces), the book seems governed by more than “chance operations.” Due to the skillful weaving of the newspaper shreds, numerous page possibilities are present in the trashbook far beyond the relatively narrow selection of scans.
The cut-up principle is at play in this work as well, and the shreds reconstitute the original newspaper writing into something new and subversive.
“Plua owerful Medici” is a personal fav among all the language play in the book.
meeah williams’ mail-art always arrives in FAB envelopes:
And the reverse:
Interesting that the postmark reads Seattle. Many thanks, as ever, to meeah williams!