1985 begann er mit elektronischer Kommunikation zu experimentieren. 1988 gründete IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists). 1996 startete er die Anthologie mit Interviews wichtiger Mail Artisten im Internet, die er regelmäßig erweitert. Sie ist unter http://www.iuoma.org zu erreichen. Überhaupt hat das Internet die Mail Art-Szene bereichert. Es gibt jede Menge Blocks und Foren mit aktuellen Projektausschreibungen, wie z.B. http://www.mail-art.de. Projektbeteiligungen sind aber nach wie vor überall als Papierpost erwünscht. Literatur: Wohlrab, Lutz (Hg.): Robert Rehfeldt – Kunst im Kontakt, Berlin 2009. Mit Beiträgen von: Eugen Blume, Wolfgang Leber, Oskar Manigk, Lutz Wohlrab, Valeri Scherstjanoi, Karla Sachse,
Mail Art – A window to the world
Leonard Frank Duch, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Gerd Börner, Dietrich Schneider, Birger Jesch, Jürgen Schweinebraden u.a. 96 Seiten mit 42 Farb- und 19 s/w-Abbildungen, Format: 24 x 17 cm,15,- €, Bestellung über: http://www.wohlrab-verlag.de/index.php Weitere Biografien vieler Mail Artisten finden sich unter: http://mailartists.wordpress.com/ Lutz Wohlrab geb. 1959 in Greifswald. Dr. med., arbeitet als Psychoanalytiker in eigener Praxis in Berlin. 1994 gab er zusammen mit Friedrich Winnes das Buch Mail Art Szene DDR 1975 – 1990 heraus. Mehrere Artikel über Mail Art, u.a. auf Spiegel-online. Arbeitet seit 2007 an einem internationalen Mail Artisten-Lexikon.
by Lutz Wohlrab
Mail art means visual communication with comparably simple methods. To the present it is regarded as underground-art, but developed its greatest political sensitivity during the times up to the fall of the Wall. For Eastern Europeans as well as for South Americans mail art was not only artistic communication and a gateway to the world, as Guillermo Deisler (1940-1995) put it, but it was a subversive practice against totalitarian claim to power of the communists or against the Latin American right-wing dictatorships. For this a postcard often would suffice. From an art-historical point of view the origin of mail art can be seen in the New York Correspondance School 1962. Ray Johnson’s (1928 – 1995) Correspondence Art was still centered around himself. Fluxus artists as himself as well as Ken Friedman, Robert Filliou, Endre Tót or Joseph Beuys rate among the mail artists of the early days. Ben Vautier, for example, created the legendary fluxpost-card The Postman‘s Choice with two identical address sides, who left the decision to the postman where the postcard should be sent to. The term “mail art” was characterized by Jean-Marc Poinsot. For his project Mail Art - Communication a Distance Concept (1971) the French art historian asked several avant-garde artists for a contribution by postal mail. But this was not yet a real mail art project where everybody could participate. But soon typical thematic project calls followed with simple basic rules: No jury, no return, documentation to all participants. The underlying concept of the mail artists is to transform the unilateral relationship of the artist to the recipient into a sender = receiver principle with equal partners. The aim of networkers in the West is to develop alternatives to the commercialization of art. With this the monopoly of galleries and museums remained undiminished but at least they have shown an alternative. Out of the great number of international well-known mail artists here are some examples: Robert Rehfeldt (1931 – 1993) was the first artists in East Berlin. He discovered mail art in the beginning of the 1970’ies. He succeeded in establishing a wide-ranging network between Eastern and Western Europe, the USA and Latin America. His Pankow studio became an information office about current developments in the field of western art. Rehfeld was a coworker. He printed his motto: “My idea helps your idea, our ideas help other ideas” on many postcards. The Dutch Kees Francke (1951 – 2002) brought his project The Workers’ Paradise to the 1. Dezentralen Internationalen Mail Art-Congress 1986 in the GDR, where he made exhibitions in Berlin and Dresden. Anna Banana participated in the mail art network since 1971. In 1974 she started the publication of the “VILE maganzine”, and in 1975 she organized
the first “Banana Oympiade” – a parody of the Olympic Games. 1978 she toured with Bill Gaglione and his mutual “Futurist Sound”-Performance through Europe and in 1980 with “Toward the Future” through Canada. Ryosuke Cohen was born in 1948 as Ryosuke Kouen in Japan. Since 1985 he mailed his brain-cell-sheets with astonishing consequence. Those sheets were reproductions of stamp collages of incoming mail art works and were produced in a special copying process. In 1997, on his second trip to Europe, he brought huge webs of brain-cell-sheets, on which he painted his hosts’ body outlines. He continued this fractal project in 2009 on his trips to North America and Europe. The Dutch Ruud Janssen is engaged in the mail art scene since 1980. He organized many international mail art projects and published diverse articles and magazines. In 1983 he became curator of the biggest collection of international rubber stamps. In 1985 he began experimenting with electronic communication. 1988 he founded IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists). 1996 he started an anthology with interviews of important mail artists in the internet (http://www.iuoma.org). In the first place he has tremendously fostered the mail art scene. There are all kinds of blocks and forums with up-to-date project calls, e.g. http://www.mail-art.de. Nevertheless, it is still appreciated that contributions will be submitted as paper mail. Pictures: Guillermo Deisler (1940 - 1995), postcard around 1986. The exiled chilean came over Bulgaria to the GDR. For the topic ‘mail art as a gateway to the world’ he found a wonderfully simple picture. Literature: Wohlrab, Lutz (Hg.): Robert Rehfeldt – Kunst im Kontakt, Berlin 2009. With contributions by: Eugen Blume, Wolfgang Leber, Oskar Manigk, Lutz Wohlrab, Valeri Scherstjanoi, Karla Sachse, Leonard Frank Duch, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Gerd Börner, Dietrich Schneider, Birger Jesch, Jürgen Schweinebraden a.o. More biographies of mail artists can be found at: http://mailartists.wordpress.com/ Lutz Wohlrab Born in 1959 in Greifswald. Dr. med. As psychoanalyst he worked in his own practice in Berlin. In 1994 he published together with Friedrich Winnes the book Mail Art Szene DDR 1975 – 1990. Several articles about mail art, i.a. at Spiegel-online. Since 2007 he works on an international mail art encyclopedia.