The Mail-Interview with Ray Johnson – USA (unfinished)
The Mail-Interview with Ray Johnson went in a special way. He reacted to the first formal invitation like this above. He also wrote on the backside, which added the dimension:
He sent it in one of his typical enveloppes:
I published the textual version of the interview too, which I will include here as well.This time also inserted the many visuals that make the interview so special:
THE UNFINISHED MAIL-INTERVIEW
WITH RAY JOHNSON.
TAM-PUBLICATIONS TILBURG – NETHERLANDS Nr TAM960134
This is the TEXT-VERSION of the two answers Ray give as part of my interview-project. I am still collecting all kind of information about Ray Johnson (before and/or after his suicide on 13-1-1995).
Started on: 4-11-1994
RUUD : Welcome to this mail-interview. A lot of mail-artists have stopped with sending out their mail into the network, but you seem to keep it up even till today. Is it true that mail-art is more then art, that it is a way of living your life?
(please put your answer on paper any length you choose….)
Reply on: 11-11-1994
(Ray’s answer was written on the original invitation to the project. He reacted to one specific word on the invitation, the word ‘LENGTH’, and he decided which length the answer would be…)
RAY : O.K. I choose 14¼ Inch length. Another answer – Dear Lamonte Young, Happy death day. Please send second question.
(The next question was in the length Ray wanted, and to make it more difficult for him, I typed the next question on dark-red paper on which I indicated the length he choose with a golden pen. Ray wrote again his answer on this paper and returned it to me.)
RUUD : With this length of 14¼ Inch the depth of my questions will change (for better or worse, I don’t know….) What kind of color would you like my questions to be? Not to dark a color for this second question I hope
Reply on : 21-11-1994
RAY : THE MNO QP (mirror view) kind. What about Mimsy Star? She got pinched in the astor bar.
RUUD : Was it a mistake that she got pinched. Was she supposed to be punched. Does she like PUNCH at all?
(Because of the long silence I wondered if the third question arrived, and I sent the following letter to Ray to ask him what was happened. As I found out a few days later, he had committed suicide).
Letter on : 21-01-1995 (I hadn’t heard of his suicide on this date yet!)
Dear Ray Johnson,
After my third question for the MAIL-INTERVIEW in November last year no reaction from you. So either you are busy or you have no time for the interview or you don’t like the idea. My attempt was to get some real views about MAIL-ART from you. If it is in ‘WORDS’ or in the form of ‘COLLAGE’, I don’t mind, but the idea will be that of every interview I start one booklet will be made. Some others who I am interviewing too by mail already expressed their interest in what you would say, and I must admit I still am curious about who you are and what is behind the messages that you send out. But then again, it is healthy to be curious. You will decide how the mail-interview goes, and I will document in this case too. Take care R.J.
Best wishes from another R.J.,
* On January 24th 1995 I received two mail-art pieces from the USA in which I read that Ray Johnson has died. Tim Mancusi wrote on his envelope: “Ray Johnson jumped off a bridge last friday the 13th & killed himself. He was 66, what a shame”. Michael B. Corbett (Tensetendoned) wrote: “I regret to inform you of the tragic drowning death of Ray Johnson on Jan. 13th 1995”.
* On January 24th 1995 I wrote my last letter to Ray, informing him that he will live forever, and I asked him about his new address, how high it ever might be…..
* On January 24th 1995 I received through INTERNET the E-mail magazine from Guy Bleus where it was confirmed too that Ray Johnson died.
From a researcher at the Feigen Gallery, years later, they sent me a colour image of Ray’s third answer. It seems he never came to sending it to me, but here is is anyway, years later:
Later I did a mail-interview with Ray’s fried Mr. Postcard (Norman Solomon). He tried to explain a bit the answers Ray gave from the American perspective.