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welcome to the International Union of Mail-Artists. This Blog gives you information and links to all activities undertaken by Ruud Janssen, who started with Mail-Art in 1980 and is still active.

mail-interview with Günther Ruch – Switzerland





Started on: 4-2-1996

RJ : Welcome to this mail-interview. First let me ask you the traditional question. When did you get involved in the mail-art network?

Reply on 14-2-1996

GR : During 1970-74 I realized several postal actions with contributions of friends and unknown persons in a small frame.

My first involvement with the mail art network goes back to 1974, through my contact with the group “ECART” (Geneva), which had in that time an extensive correspondence exchange with the first mail-networkers (look hereby this old rubber stamp which mentioned 1974 as begin of my “NETWORK” activity).

One of my first participations to an international MA-show was 1975 in your country, organized by G.J. de Rook (“STAMP-ART”, Utrecht), followed by several other MA-shows and contacts with artists-editors (R. Rehfeldt / (CONTART) – P. Petasz / (COMMONPRESS) – V. Baroni / (ARTE POSTALE) – A. Banana / (VILE) – J. Juin / (SPHINX) – and so on).

In 1980 I published the commonpress issue no 36 (“IDEA & CO”) with 120 participants of 23 countries and with whom I exchanged later (weekly & daily) correspondence, which influenced at least my private life.

RJ : How did mail art influence your private life?

Reply on 29-2-1996

GR : At the beginning of my mail art involvement I received every month about a dozen of postcards, which grew rapidly in the following years to something like 600 mailings yearly (that means every day 2-3 letters).

Participating and answering to some hundreds of mail-invitations brought several time-problems for me, I had the choice during a limited time of 2-3 hours the day to develop my own artistic projects or to answer only to other’s mail-projects.

With my wife Colette I had a very pleasant private life, but after a time my interest for the mailbox became bigger and bigger. Our 3-persons’ house-hold (Colette, the mailbox and I) had some charming aspects, until several difficulties between the mailbox and my wife appeared.

So, a strange day I went with Colette on one hand and the mailbox on the other hand to a psychiatrist to try to save the rest of our private life. His (Psy) observation could be set in a short statement: – more information your receive, less personal communication you can do, e.g…… quantity is not quality – (the problems between Colette and the mailbox are now resolved). And of course I heard from similar problems of the network, a reason why I asked years later during the first international MA-Congress 86 my mailpartners about their experiences in this field (Look under “phone-congress 86” in the catalog-report).

RJ : What was the story behind this MA-congress 86 when you look at it ten years later?

Reply on 19-3-1996


GR : Well, a good question. Ten years later several “network” ideas have changed and the earlier congress-matter has influenced different meetings of mail artists, which were named later “congress-meetings”. It was surely one of the biggest mail art events of the eighties (including some 500 participants with 80 sessions in 25 countries). An interesting interpretation about the congress-idea was written under others by Géza Perneczky in his book “THE MAGAZINE NETWORK”; you find other statements and articles about those sessions in some artists’ conclusions, newspaper articles and at last in my congress report.

Network-problems in the eighties came through contrary views about mail-communication. For some people an exchange had only to do with a social (political) character in which the “artistical” point was secondary (e.g. : “everybody is an artist”). For some other people an exchange had only to do with a artistical (cultural) character in which the “social” point was secondary (e.g. : “every artwork implicates a social context”). So, I don’t know if today these problems are resolved, what I know is that a lot of networkers of the eighties don’t participate today to all so-called “MA-Shows”. Some of them are definitively “out”, others have new occupations with medias like computer-tools, which encloses other artists circuits.
My own idea to initiate such a big undertaking like that congress came through the wish to discuss together with networkers own problems of information / autonomy / cooperation / artcontext…. (and accumulated time-problems / correspondence-selections / history-interpretations / financial difficulties in relation to mail art). For that reason I produced too a formulary to be answered by the participants (organizers of own sessions). But with all my engagement, printed informations and answerings to hundreds of mailings (including 5 visits to congress sessions in 4 countries) all became a little bit too much for me. My co-partner to this congress-event H.R. Fricker, who I invited to work together with me, didn’t help very much. He used the background of that event to circulate his “tourism”-ideas and own printed postage stamps. “Tourism” was never for me a good development of expanded mail art (on one hand through its relation to any “ism”, on the other hand through its advertising “mass-tourism”, contrary to individual meetings). Of course the “meeting” idea behind Fricker’s slogan which he interpretated as “new” couldn’t be looked as such; several networkers, especially Ray Johnson, proposed from the beginning of their mail-communication “meetings”. So, at least Fricker got angry with me and our co-working finished in quarrels and fights, a reason why I ended the congress-project alone (most of the congress material was sent to my address).

Concerning my questionnary and other mailed informations, I received nearly thousand letters with some 200 specific answers to my request, of which I selected 76 responses (look at page 30 of my congress report). Naturally you can say it was a very personal selection, because it was ME who questioned, searched and choosed the content of the answers, but it was probably also the first time that mail art was discussed by hundreds of participants in a “open & public way”. The show was this time not about about mail art, the show was about the mail artist. I have to add that these meetings were especially created in a informal way (sometimes like a house-party, sometimes like a festival) and the thematic discussions developed themselves during the meetings. The “decentralized matter” allowed that the independent aspect of the sessions wasn’t touched, the result was not the meeting-idea in itself, but the face to face contact of individuals which knew each other before only through mail-exchanges.

RJ : What about the Decentralized Networker Congresses in 1992? Was this just a reproduction of the 1986 congress meetings, or was there a new aspect?

Reply on 4-4-1996

GR : In my eyes the “NC-92” was a copy of the earlier “MAC-86”, therefore I haven’t participated to that repetition, but I saw that my name was anyway in the 92-list. Of course the NC-92 included not alone mail art but also E-mail communication and it was said that more people participated in the NC-92 than in the MAC-86. Some of those “participants” told me later that they haven’t met in reality their partners, like it was done in 1986 (they connected them through postal mail and/or electronic mail). As next, some argued that instead of “discussing future network possibilities” in a decentralized manner, a centralized databank was set up and is now to reach at the University of Iowa (USA).

So, I don’t know, it seems that the “new aspect” was an old aspect, a sort of remake in electronic media without new strategies. If I’m interested on collaborative working my first interest goes to the work of my partner (idea / concept / creativity) and only secondly to his E-mail tools. I’m not against communication medias like computer tools and Internet, but the substance of the transmitted message shouldn’t be anachronic. To produce a “cyberstamp” in electronic media and send it via Internet through the space is a little bit like a HongKong-copy of a Van Gogh Picture. In Internet you don’t need stamps & envelopes, it goes without the postal system, to use a stamp (even symbolic) has really nothing to do with that media nor with a networker development. By the way, I remember a statement by Vittore Baroni (printed in REAL CORRESPONDENCE / 92): “… the congresses I’ve seen simply failed to convey any useful information about the development of such a new networking landscape. The short collective discussions verged once again on MA-topics that have been widely debated in the past – in the 1986 MAC for example….”.

RJ : For people outside the network it is quite difficult to find information about mail art. Many books written about mail art are produced by mail artists, published in very small editions and collected/bought by mail artists. Sometimes it seems only mail artists are interested in their history, but not all (newcomers..) are well informed about that. Is this true and should it be changed?

Reply on 22-4-1996

C-ass2-clinch7GR : Indeed, that’s a basic difficulty, books are essential for the MA-development. But it’s also a mistake from newcomers to think that information came up itself (and could be exchanged against a B&W xerox). To understand mail art you need to study the mechanism (and publication links) of that exchange system. Every searched work, book, information in and about mail art can be found individually, through several MA-archives (and/or by writing directly to concerned editors). There are existing lists of special books & magazines which will inform everybody who wants to search. Last week I became from a german museum several demands regarding documents and publication-material of the old DDR. This material couldn’t be found elsewhere, that means that my small archive is listed and known for specific research.

We are naturally very far from a “centralized” information (mail art is a decentralized system per se) and diversity is an important factor. So the general problem is not the “limited information”, the problem is that a newcomer took his own “reduced” view (or source) as the only information for the whole network, ignoring other books and archive-sources.

I could give you lots of examples where not alone newcomers but “oldies” too, bring their own personal sight as the “complete information” for the network. Do you remember the “CORRESPONDENCE ART” book by Crane & Stofflet, which was part of anger and frustration for several not-mentioned mail artists. My own bookdocumentation “MA-Congress 86”, in the hands of perhaps 300 mail artists and several archives (also in museum libraries & bookstores), was not mentioned in the last so-called sourcebook “ETERNAL NETWORK” of Chuck Welch .

Things like that could be changed through inclusion of additional databanks from more networkers or archives. A step in this direction was done for example by Géza Perneczky, who searched -before making his book- not alone in his own big archive, but in several other MA-files. Everybody who wishes to have information about mail art zines & reviews can order this book directly by Perneczky himself (and at least the price isn’t higher than in any commercial mass-edition).

RJ : The museum in Schwerin isn’t the first museum that wants to exhibit a selection of mail art from various archives of mail artists. Does mail art fit in a ‘traditional’ museum? What do you think of this development?

Reply on 9-5-1996

GR : The Schwerin museum wasn’t the first institution that asked me about MA-documents (during the last years I became requests from various museum-corners in Europe & USA). These demands were mostly bound with specific questions related to archive-documents, less with invitations asking my personal contribution. You have to differentiate between “invitational” MA-shows and “documentary” MA-shows…

Personally I think a “invitational” MA-show would probably better fit in his marginal character outside of a museum, a “documentary” MA-exhibition, addressed to a larger public would fit in a museum (a museum is a cultural public place, which should show all facettes of contemporary art-informations, even alternative or unknown ones). A MA-show in a museum should be curated & organized by someone who knows well the MA-community (the Schwerin museum will give an overview about a MA-period of the old GDR-regime, curated by an ancient MA-member, Guy Schraenen, and prepared with help of GDR-artists, Birger Jesch u.o.).

If several artists said years ago that mail art “must get out of its ghetto” , then of course museal institutions can’t be excluded – it has a logic. Counting all the museum-shows of the last years (PTT-museums & Country Museums), which included mail art I want to know which mailer hasn’t participated in his life to a museum-show? (I saw always big participants-lists)…. the first MA-shows under the trade-mark “CORRESPONDENCE ART” started in museums like the Whitney Museum N.Y. , the Joslyn Museum Omaha, or the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. My own first solo-show 1975, related to marginal media (rubber-stamps / xerox / flyers / S-8 films / small offset) was held in a museum and became through this “official” space another impact for the audience.

RJ : Most mail artists connect your name with the magazine CLINCH. What was the concept of this magazine?

Reply on 24-5-1996

GR : The concept of CLINCH was bound with the wish to have a selfmade assembling-magazine, cheap in its production-costs, simple and complicate at the same time, open to everybody and every world-conception, -including contributing artists from the whole globe. A relativly strong conceptualized idea developed itself through the small stamp-size of the contributed originals (stickers/stamps).

CLINCH was founded as “alternative” artpaper, was looked as “exchanged” proposition, mailed as “marginalized” information, exposed as “visualized” archive, and collected as “historified” MA-fragment by hundreds of participants. The magazine included in his 10 issues from 1983-88 (foundation 1982) some 400 participants, of which nearly 100 mailers contributed with own sticker-originals (it circulated also outside of the network in libraries and bookarchives).

Collecting, organizing & glueing all single stickers in each issue gave a lot of time-problems, which could only be resolved during nights (partly with the help of Colette). Together 25,000 originals were pasted with their glueing substance of auto-adhesive, water-glueing, or hand-sticking basis.

CLINCH brought such different individuals in company like “MA-kings” (Ray Johnson and G.A. Cavellini), “poetry-writers” (Dick Higgins or Richard Kostelanetz), “MAG-inventors” (Pawl Petasz or Vittore Baroni), “stamp-editors” (Anna Banana or György Galantai), “book-producers” (Ulises Carrion or Jürgen O. Olbrich), “poetry-performers” (Julien Blaine or Guillermo Deisler), “archive-conceptionalists” (Guy Bleus or Géza Perneczky), “social fighters” (Lon Spiegelman or Clemente Padin), “realism-painters” (Carlo Pittore or Leonard Duch), “myth-constructors” (Istvan Kantor or Al Ackerman), and so on…. impossible to mention them all. CLINCH was an overlapping “mixed media” product with interdisciplinary weight of eighties MA-development (the projected theme of each issue was going from visual poetry to random material, in which originals at a stickerbasis became special values). Some contributed works focused directly on the medium as source of information and meaning. Every participant received a copy free for himself, another part was exchanged with publications of the network, a third part was sold (which payed a little bit the distribution-costs, never the production-costs). Naturally my aim was not to make money, but to spread information and receive “other” publication-material in exchange…. and that aim was plenty fullfilled.

During the years a lot of articles were written about this magazine, Guy Bleus organized last year a retrospective exhibition of CLINCH in Belgium . If CLINCH was open during 5 years to everybody, I invited and choosed in my other selfmade editions (OUT-PRESS) only artists which worked similar to my own art-conception, or had at least experience in such network development.

RJ : When you ‘sum up’ the different individuals that participated to your CLINCH (like “poetry-writers” or archive-conceptualists”), I wonder in which group you would place yourself. What is special in your art-conception?

Reply on 17-6-1996

GR : Firstly, I hope you don’t regard my description of MA-individuals as “categorized” group seperated in art-disciplines (myth-constructors or MA-stars can’t be categorized under disciplines). If I have mentioned them, than by illustrating their diversity, each of them is searching and experimenting his own way of seeing or thinking which isn’t always clear in the beginning…..

Mixed media is for me one overlapping small media-concept in which disciplines are used in a simultaneous way (the media-tool itself can be either a rubberstamp or a soundtape). The weight lays on the creative act of using cheap media in a direct and simple context with multiple reflections. Besides mixed media exists intermedia (another field, largly explained by Dick Higgins in his interview with you), and it exists multimedia (which would fit better with the use of electronic media).

My own mixed work includes small media-concepts which could be partly realized only through collaboration with invited artists using themselves small media (choosing to collaborate means to negotiate the use of time, effort and materials that are available). To explain these processes hereby some examples:

– In 3 months I will perform a sound-poetry collaboration in Geneva together with 5 invited networkers (J.O. Olbrich / Rod Summers / Guy Bleus / Fernando Aguiar / Robin Crozier) at the “Festival de Genève / POESIES SONORES”. The projected transmission includes several communication-instruments (telephone / fax & others) ; besides the media-tools things like “cooperation” / “time” / “moment” / “interval” will play an important role. The mixed project will create a situation in which every participant is responsible and simultaneous depending of collaborators work…..

– A year ago I organized & performed an event called “DIRECT” with 5 invited artists (“THE NOMADS”) where we used during 8 days & nights found objects to produce a book-object and a film (35-mm). Parallel to that there was an artistamp-show with hundred participants (catalog) .

– In 1994 the PTT-museum Bern invited me (together with H.R. Fricker and M.V. Stirnemann) to collaborate to a documentary MA-Show, there I performed a short telephone-transmission with 8 artists from 8 countries (without knowing before what will happen, which call-interventions will produce, and what they want me to do….. .

– Similar actions & performances with inclusion of small media and a reduced number of participants were realized through me years before (the french television “CANAL PLUS” broadcasted a sort of overview about the international MA-network-communication, enclosing a documentary streetaction of mine from 1975). It was a personal performance in a public park of Geneva, implicating the “head-multiplication” of the cultural minister of that time, different media-support became instructions authorizing multiple interpretations…….

– To complete my concept I produced between 1976-86 a very small message-paper (“POSTPRODUCT”) which was partly sent through marginal transportation channels like swimming bottles / tram-ways / train-wagons / paper-flyers / folded paper-airplanes / and so on. (of course, only a part of all “flyers” came to their destination and indicated addresses). The point of mixed media departures involves “everyday objects & actions” – parallel to these events & performances several artists were invited to contribute their media-originals to my edition OUT-PRESS…..

In the beginning of the eighties I tried to create another therm for my mixed media concept, I called it “CO-ART” (COncept / COntacts / COoperation / COrrespondence / COmmunication /COpyart / and so on.) So to your question “what is special in my art-conception” is the inclusion of different media-tools under different circumstances with different artists presence -and that differs drastically from the traditional form of mail art in which the influence of participants to the aim-strategy of the project is reduced to one medium and to one distance.

Only through personal contact and media-collaboration can you discover the social and human aspects of your partner (hardly through his mailings). From a visual point of view: my symmetrical “lines” which I often used in my picture-concepts could be looked partly as metaphor for “communication-lines” (telephone-lines / letter-lines ‘ transportation-lines), partly as aesthetical form similar to minimal art, partly as ironical use in relation to prefabricated industrial products…..

RJ : Over the years that you were active in mail art you also used a lot of rubber stamps. What is a rubber stamp for you?

Reply on 29-6-1996

GR : An artist rubber stamp is for me a small visual media-signal, quickly utilizable, cheap in its production-costs and easy to transport – practical in all senses. Through its endless- & overprint possibilities the stamp refer to a repetition-code containing personal message fragments. Prints are easy to reproduce, to combine and to mail them around the world (there is no other miniaturized artist medium which could be directly multiplicated on such small surfaces). Networkers stamps includes a communication vocabulary of our daily life which is immediatly comprehensible.

I used rubberstamps since the end of the sixties and stamped one of my first R into my passport between official customs stamps of different countries ( R = Ruch / Rubber / Registrated – official meaning: R = Refused. My passport of the sixties was full of exotic custom rubberstamps from Europe and Orient, where I had travelled, hitchhiked, walked and lived during some time.

As you know, in two weeks (July) the “STAMP ART GALLERY” in San Francisco by Bill Gaglione will exhibit a big part of my rubber stamps and will produce a catalog “LIVING ROOM EXHIBITION”. (With your own “TAM-RUBBER STAMP ARCHIVE” you have probably a good overview about a lot of networker’s stamps from the last 15 years – also mine).

The first overview about rubberstamps (since the sixties) were given through book-publications like Hervé Fischers’ “ART & COMMUNICATION MARGINALE” (Paris/1974). The second volume of this book with some hundred new rubberstamping artists was printed & assembled years later through “ECART” in Geneva, but never bound and therefore never distributed. Other catalogs from that time are “STAMP ART” (G.J. de Rook / Amsterdam 1976) and “TIMBRES & TAMPONS D’ARTISTES” (Cabinet des Estampes / Geneva, 1976) …. followed by a lot of different rubberstamp shows & publications.

RJ : Again I notice in your answer that you are quite fascinated in the use of letters and their meanings (like the R you mentioned now). Is there a specific reason for that?

Reply on 28-08-96

GR : Sorry for the long time to wait at my answer. I was a whole month away from Geneva (in South-France) and another month I had to work for a special occasion here in Geneva……

Yes, of course alphabetical codes, abbreviations and letterfragments are playing an important role in my work – so, look at that “A” to you “Q” : In every word can be a semantic content and a similarity to fragments of other words (in the same or other languages). In a visual poem the word has not only verbal function but signify a state which can be unfolded, can be a new compound, or can bring a visual image through an alphabetic composition. Abbreviations help to underline the fragmentaric sense of “A to BE” , filled with new possibilities of exploring a “WOR(L)D”. “EYE” (I) was always interested how letters or short words could function in a double or triple sense with different determinations.

In the beginning of the eighties single letters like “N” (from “N-tity” = entity) were sent from several mailers, demonstrating their involvement as “N”-guild (N-ETWORK N-TITY). Other mailers used the word “ON” and his rotation “NO” for their short and limited answer to a participation-project. Another letter-sign on envelopes was “W” (from “W-ork), coming from his returned rotation “M” (M-ail). So, a sunny day I built with these 3 letters “N”, “O”, “W” a rubberstamp which could be read in all directions: “MON NOM: WON NOW”. Only insiders could really understand why and from who these words turned off “NOW” with 2 significations in english and 2 other significations in french (Do it “NOW”, than you have “WON” your name).

An older visual poem of me was built with the simple word “ART” in 4 languages (in every language-version the same word “ART” became a single letter-addition or a letter-rotation). The english version were read: “TART / RAT / TAR”, the french version: “ARA / RATA / RAT”, the german version: “RAT / TAT / RAR”, the italian version: “TARA / RATA / ARA”……… together 12 different points of views in 4 languages by a 3 letter-combination).

In general “experimental” poetry begins there, where the letter has lost his normal verbal function, but could be decoded simultaneous in relation to another signification. Today we are living in an age of communcation-speed in which abbreviations or hint-signals are used as quick transmission-vocabulary, why not integrate them into sound- or visual poetry? …. You have not only to READ, you have also to THINK about their fragmental signification, a sort of pulsing life reflection. “OR” is in english a way for alternative (see “either”), the same “OR” means in french “GOLD” and in a phonetic understanding “OR” (OHR) means in german “EAR” – you can always play with another function of the same word .
During the cultural “festival of Geneva” 1993 (POESIE SONORES) I worked & collaborated with Ward Tietz in a co-piece of alphabetical code-deciphering. We had small and big letter-objects (for example an “A” two meter high, or an “H” which I used as stilts by going with them on the stage). We cooperated, created, played and read that piece in several mixed materials, through flags the content was partly transmitted in a semaphoric way…… Coding – Decoding – Co ….. De…..

RJ : You mention that “……Today we are living in an age of communcation-speed” and I guess you also mean the FAX and the E-mail. I know you have worked with the FAX-machines. What do you think of the E-mail and the use of Internet?

reply on 14-10-1996

GR : Telephone / Fax / Internet are diffusion (transportation-) tools, Photocopy / Audiotape / Computerprinter are reproduction -tools. Sometimes they are used together, sometimes they are integrated in one computersystem, alltogether they are looked as electronic medias. Diffusion and reproduction are seperate through their destination of “distribution” and “product” (a copy-art product isn’t automatically linked to be mailed after his printing). So, we have to reflect about what (diffusion or product) we speak.

The idea , the function and the result of E-mail are very different to postal art (and of course people which use only E-mail are often never in contact with the MA-network). Several mailers – like you too – told me that computer-mail is sometimes boring (no handtouched paper / no smell / no 3-D project / no special stamps, stickers or rubber stamps).

The other side of E-mail is of course the speed of the DIRECT-transmission and through Internet the elusion of high postal rates. But for whom (?)…. only for people who have themselves such fax or computertools with access to Internet (you can forget practically 90% of the third world, they haven’t got access to that technology), also most european artists (mailers) are today not equiped with own computers.

The question is now, do you prefer to communicate with a small group of computerfreaks or with a larger group of individuals (?). Depends the content of your message on transmission-speed (?). Can E-mail replace the substance of human contacts (?) — look back to the big differences of the MA-congress 1986 (personal meetings) and the congress 1992 (computer-connections). Who needs more mailings, more contacts, more networkers, more speed and more technology (?).

Everybody knows that we are living in an age of information & communication in which computer-tools play a very important part, but our role – the role of an artist – is to question the media-percussion in our society. The “highways of information” are full of clichees which are bound with products of technology, and clichees which are bound with the distribution of such products. Communication-speed is one thing, how to look at it or to react against it is a complete other thing…. Independence and a certain liberty brought me during my MA-engagement to choose small reproduction-tools like the photocopymachine or the rubberstamp, daily diffusion-tools like the letter or telephone.

If I used very sporadicly Fax and other diffusion technologies then because I had a short (payed) possibility through institutions to communicate with those instruments. At home I haven’t any Fax or E-mail tool (but I have a telephone, a small photocopy-machine, an old Macintosh without access to Internet & CD-ROM)…. and I have to add that in all my public events – in contrast to my MA-exchanges – telephone & fax played only a role for the speed during the time-limited spectacle (otherwise the public couldn’t follow what happened). Background of these events are not to underline the importance of contemporary communication-tools, but on the contrary to question them and the often praised “media-consumer” ideology in an ironic way.

In the past it was said that somebody who writes postcards wouldn’t be automatically a MA-artist, today we can say that somebody who uses Internet wouldn’t be automatically an E-mail artist. Conclusion: it is not the medium alone which makes someone to an artist, it is the concept behind (how & why) which someone brings to choose his medium (….and that’s a life-conception).

RJ : Some older mail artists say that mail art nowadays is just a repetition of what happened in the 70’s and 80’s , and that mail art in the 90’s isn’t interesting at all. What do you think?

answer on 31-1-1997

GR : Of course mail art only as mailing-system is surely no longer interesting, look back to my statements about that matter and my publication “THE RISK” (by the way this question was hot discussed years ago during the “BIG MAC” 1986). Personally I reduced end of the eighties drastically my MA-communication and stayed since then in contact with a limited group of individuals with whom I had something in common.

Mail art is not an art-form or style in itself, but an artistical communication-structure which invites you to take part in it with new collaborative art-processes. These processes depend not of technological tools or computers (they can – the don’t must), they depend on real “cooperation”, “group-thinking” and similar “information-knowledge” from participants about the subject which will be developped together.

The word “Mail-Art” is today used for everything and nothing (I saw in some so-called “documentary” MA-catalogues printed declarations from people who have never participated to the MA-network). So is the word “Mail-Art” today really used in his original sense (?). For me that was one reason why I called developped cooperations on a mail-basis “CO-ART” (the co-operative co-ncept in co-llaboration has more importance than the mailed envelope).

The first number of my magazine CLINCH featured a “CO-WORK” diagram, described under others by Géza Perneczky in his book “MAGAZINE NETWORK” :

“,,,,a parallelogramme whose sides were meant to represent relationships between correspondence partners. The diagonal stood for ‘communication energy’ which increased between partners in direct ratio to time & space. In other words, this diagram was meant to illustrate something else than just the traditional relationship between the ‘sender’ and ‘receiver’ . It featured numerous receivers, who then became senders in the next step. On the other hand, the diagram highlighted not the components of their direct relationships, but instead their ‘vectors’ or ‘force’ , i.e. the amount of ‘total communication’ present in the formula. This force exeeded the personal contacts between the partners, since it represented their ‘collective projection’….. ”

RJ : Well, this interview has gone now for over one year. What do you think of the result so far of this project?

answer on 10-5-1997

GR : The whole interview-concept with different participants is a brillant idea and in straight line as continuation of discussions developped during the congress-sessions 1986. For me personally your interview is my fourth interview and the largest one over the last 10 years (not included some tape-recorded interviews of me from which I never saw the result).

The various thoughts of different interviewed people, you sent me, are very interesting (even if I don’t always agree with all personal declarations). I saw under others that the propagated “computerized future” of MA devides your interviewed artists (globaly there are links between Mail-art / E-mail & Internet , but real MAIL has to do with distance-concepts formalized through stamps, rubberstamps and other selfmade material, produced by senders / receivers / PTT-offices…..)

The last interview-booklet of Ken Friedman, you sent me, is a demonstration to see how difficult it is to generalize the whole Mail-art field. I totally agree with Ken’s statement about Internet:

“…..There is no need for mail-art on the Internet. The net is a different kind of medium. It needs play, ideas and exchange, it doesn’t need mail-art. People who see the Internet as an arena for mail-art are missing the point. Information technology has opened old fields to entirely new approaches…..”

Other MA-interpretations of him are more difficult to eat:

“……The mail-art network is insular internalized, selfcentered, there is little understanding of history and culture, even little knowledge about history of mail-art….only a handful of mail-art writers make sense to outside scholars, you can count them on your fingers – Chuck Welch , Mike Crane , Judith Hoffberg , Anna Banana , John Held Jr. , John Jacob ……. The Fluxus-writers knew their own history well, and many have been broadly conversant in general culture, culture theory and art-history. This makes a qualitative difference between fluxus and mail art, few mail artists know their own history well, they tend to oppose historical writing and thinking, they are often anti-experimental and judgemental about intellectual issues…..”

So, from what and from whom talks Ken (?) , what does Ken know about MY MAIL-CONTACTS and the people with whom I communicate (?). Should I buy a “flux-ticket” from Ken to enter in the “right” MA-circle (?). Mail-art doesn’t know any leadership or hierarchic concipation, Mail-art literature is not only limited to 6 north-american writers, Fluxus in Mail-art is a fact under several other facts…..

1 – To the leadership : feedback in that exchange system with other artists depends of receivers answer much more than of senders purpose.

2 – To the MA-writers : contrary to Ken I would say that “important literature” about Mail-art consists in european literature (a handful of those writers : Géza Perneczky (H/D) / Vittore Baroni (I) / Klaus Groh (D) / Guy Bleus (B) / Ulisses Carrion (MEX/NL) / Manfred Strirnemann (CH) / and others). Then it gives “east-european writers”, “latin-american writers” and so on…..

3 – To the “qualitative differences”: if I take Harry Ruhe’s documentation “who is who” in “FLUXUS” (1979 / Amsterdam) which mentioned practically all fluxmembers, some of them have sporadically participated to my own MA-projects (besides Ken himself I received mail from such documented fluxpeople like Ben Vautier / Joseph Beuys / Davi det Hompson / Dick Higgins / Marcel Alocco / Dietrich Albrecht / Barbara Moore / Mauricio Nanucci / Tamas Szentjoby and at least Ray Johnson). Also I had during the seventies some short conversations with BEN / BEUYS / FILLIOU and an afternoon with H. SOHM in Stuttgart. Are these (mail) people all “selfcentered with little knowledge about their history”(?) , or because they are (flux)members “they know their own history and are broadly conversant in general culture”(?).

A lot of flux-people – mentioned in Harry Ruhe’s documentation – I saw in original (live) in their events / concerts / performances during the seventies & eighties (e.g.: John Cage / Ben Vautier / Joseph Beuys / Milan Knizak / Guiseppe Chiari / Emmet Williams / and so on). I saw also most (probably all) “flux-films” produced by flux-members at special occasions, presented partly through the “american filmakers cooperative” as too through “Ben Vautier” personally.
To illustrate my own involvement with flux-related history I have to go back to the sixties: my first information about “fluxus” came in 1964 through a small bookstore in Stuttgart, the town where I lived and studied graphic-design then. In this bookstore I found by chance some issues of Wolf Vostell’s magazine “DECOLLAGE” , the number 4 brought a short overview about some flux- & happening people (in that time nobody spoke about that movement). A year later Vostell’s bookdocumentation “HAPPENINGS” (Rowohlt / 1965) was published (including lots of flux-related pieces) and some months later came Jean-Jacques Lebel’s “LE HAPPENING” (Denoël / Paris 1966) at the desk. The wellknown bookdocumentation of H. Szeemann & H. Sohm “HAPPENINGS & FLUXUS” (Köln / 1970) introduced that movement in museums and the gallery-system.

Well, between the time Colette had made a lecture at the Artschool in Basel (1966 / AGS-Basel) about “DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FLUXUS & HAPPENING” , in which she used the quoted documents. Some years later (in the earlier seventies) I came in contact with the group “ECART” (Geneva) which run a gallery / bookshop / and printing-room and where I found and bought some books of the legendary “SOMETHING ELSE PRESS” (Dick Higgins). It was the beginning of a fruitful communication-exchange and performance-collaboration with that group, we did together a lot of flux-pieces from partitions of known flux-authors. Parrallel to that the first Mail-art shows in Switzerland were presented through ECART (e.g. : ENDRE TOT / DAVID ZACK / ROBIN CROZIER / HERVE FISCHER’S RUBBERSTAMP BOOK / ANNA BANANA’S & BILL GAGLIONE’S PERFORMANCES / and others)

In the same time I founded in Geneva – together with Colette – my own edition “OUT-PRESS” (1973) , after having done some self-organized street-actions (this more marginal & small artist-edition published later several collaborating MA-networkers).

So far, influence from fluxus to the earlier Mail-art is a fact that I always underlined (look e.g. my interview with Dobrica Kamperelic 1987 ) – but fluxus was not the only influence. For example, in the moment I’m preparing a documentary lecture with slides, tapes & video’s about SOUND & MAILBOX (“SON & BOÎTE POSTALE”) to show them here in Geneva during the annual festival. An interesting view to understand how known sound-poets, visual poets and mail-poets participated in the past together in mail-projects, resulting in published records or audio-cassetes. There you can see and hear influence of concrete poetry , lettrism, as too experiments in new wilderness.
Some other influential aspects on the earlier Mascene were described in my “SHORT UNCOMPLETE CHRONOLOGY OF MA” (1980). That chronology had a relativly success and was reprinted by half-dozen of MA-zines & catalogues .

In 1981 it was Vittore Baroni who printed the chronology at the cover of “ARTE POSTALE! No 19” , and sent to several A.P. – readers (under others to Ray Johnson , who reacted weeks later by mailing me a “FAN-CLUB” letter, insisting directly to one point of that “chronology”). It was my first contact with Ray going over a 5-6 years period.

O.K. , after discharging my flux-constipation – overbearing history is difficult to digest – I can entrust you that sometimes my criticism is very near to Ken’s one: qualitative differences are often not between flux-artists & mail-artists, qualitative differences are often between (mail) artists & (mail) artists……

Back to your question of “THE RESULT OF THESE INTERVIEWS”: They will stay as clarification & overview about different (sometimes contrary) standpoints, which are bound together in the “historicity” of Mail-art….. Thank you for your help & hard work to realize this network-puzzle.

RJ : I guess it is time now to end the interview. Thank you for your time and energy too. Now let others read the words that are produced, or did I forget to ask you something?

answer on 10-5-1997

GR : It was a pleasure to answer to your “Q’s” , big thanks for the reflection-massage. Of course it would give much more to tell but we are at the end of our conversation, perhaps only a short post-script to the begin of my ART-COMMUNICATION :

The sixties were a overboarding creative time with revolutionering culture – & society changements, including new art-forms (besides fluxus it gave pop-art / minimal-art / land-art / street-art / sound-poetry /photo-realism and distance-concepts in form of “correspondence-art”) , that all in front of a background of student revolts / anti-Vietnam war-protests / hippie-movements / worldecological reflections……

In this “hot” time of society-innovations I undertook as student some larger trips to get out of “traditional” life-problems , to smell fresh air, stimulated by chance , adventure , exploring unknown countries , free life , essays of survive without consume and testing alternative communication & travel-forms (that all without having any money). My venturous trips with the most cheap transport-tools (hitch-hiking / trekking) brought me to countries like Turkey / Syria / Jordanie (3 months) / to Sicily (6 months) / to Greece (3 months) / to France and different stays in Scandinavia / Spain / Holland / as Jougoslavia too. There I learned a lot of communication without using language , of trips without maps , roadsigns without roads, the risky entering of passing rail boggie-waggons , repetition-music from railroad tracks, smells of strange perfums, miles & miles with truck-trailers, alpcrossing in snow 3000 meter high, of do-it yourself directions with donkeys & camels , sleeping in train-waggons, on sand or by inhabitants….. The only relicts of these trips were customs-stamps in my passeport and some overpainted postcards, mailed to family & friends (all other stayed ephemere, archived in my memory or the memories of persons I had met).

This earlier colourful maze of world-exploration influenced later my perception of ART-COMMUNICATION , by using cheap do-it yourself material, coin-wrapped photocopies , publicity-trash at street-corners , road-signs in my picture-concepts, telephone-performances with unknown persons, over-painting of newspaper headlines, numbering of repetitions code, parking places instead of gallery places, street-actions in a non-verbal, visual communication structure (some older S-8 films of these actions were shown to several occasions)……..

Later in the eighties I coupled my travels with visits of correspondence-partners (e.g. : in Jougoslavia – Kamperelic / Tisma / Sindic , in Italy – Maggi / Baroni / Morandi , in Hungary Galantai , in Germany – Olbrich / Schnyder/Hainke , in New York – Bloch/Kostelanetz/Gerlovins , in Belgium – Bleus/De Boever/Francois…. and so on…. During the congress-sessions 1986 I saw probably some hundred different MA-artists and I became visits from over 20 networkers (to name only those who have slept in my house: R. Meade (USA) / C. Stake (CDN) / J.Olbrich (D) / M. Bloch (USA) / A. Schnyder (D) / M. Pawson (UK) / H.R.Fricker (CH) / J.N. Laszlo (F) / M.Stirnemann (CH) / B. Hetlovana (PL) …… 600 names of correspondence-partners were listed in my “MA-Congress ’86” , with 900-1000 persons from the whole world (60 countries) I had a correspondence-exchange, together I received something like 8000-9000 mailings – to much to can go deeper in real communication-exchange (therefor my reason to reduce Mail-art to those with a common-background).

For me MA was only one of my different ART-COMMUNICATIONS , but even than it was partly a fulltime job .

Ruud, if you will come one time to Geneva – please, not as “tourist” – you are always welcome at home…. there we could communicate and discuss several points which are not mentioned here,

RJ : Well, that is a very kind invitation. I do tend to meet mail artists every year since I travel a lot, so I might be in Switzerland one of these days…..Thanks for the interview Günther!

Address mail-artist:

Günther Ruch
315 Route de Peney
1242 Genéve – Peney
phone : (022) 753 12 21

Address interviewer:

Ruud Janssen – TAM
P.O.Box 1055  –  4801 BB Breda Netherlands

mail-interview with Edgardo-Antonio Vigo – Argentina



After a long correspondence with Edgardo Antonio Vigo since 1983 it was only
natural to invite him in June 1995 for my mail-interview. The interview was almost
finished, and on August 28th 1997 I sent him the last question. Later I found out he
had died on November 4th 1997 , after suffering from a long painful desease.
During the interview there were always two letters we exchanged. One for the
interview , and one personal letter. This is how more interviews go , the personal
letters besides the ‘public’ interview questions.

Because I want to show with the booklet-version what kind of artists I am
interviewing I normally include illustrations of artifacts that came to me during the
interview-process. For Vigo’s interview I waited some time before I could bring
myself to the task of proof-reading the texts and do the layout for the booklet-
version. It isn’t easy loosing a friend and then publish the last words you received
from him. The online-version will contain the text of the interview – as usual – and will
be put online with the help of Jas W. Felter (Canada). For the booklet-version I have
decided to include both the answers and questions as well as the personal
correspondence. This will show you obviously what kind of man Vigo was , and how
these last years of his life went.

Besides the interview & the personal correspondence during it the booklet will
contain some appendixes as well. A text written by Clemente Padin (translated into
English for you and avalable online already , a letter from Ana Maria Gualtiera (she
has the task as ‘holder’ of the collection of Vigo’s work & mail-art and wants to
exhibit the collection in Argentina. She can be reached at the same P.O. Box that
Vigo used , and she works for the ‘Fundaci¢n Centro de Artes Visuales)

Ruud Janssen , 31-3-1998


Started on: 15-6-1995

RJ : Welcome to this mail-interview. First let me ask you the traditional question.
When did you get involved in the mail-art network?

Reply on 27-7-1995

EAV: In the end of 1966 I began contacting some European visual poets – like
JULIEN BLAINE and JEAN-FRANCOIS BORY – and we start exchanging
works. Among them some postcards including very creative ways to fill in the
space that called my attention. For instance postcards which were real
creative pieces, specially made for that communication means.

In 1963 I started editing the ‘DIAGONAL CERO’ magazine in order to publish
there information and articles on our international mail exchanging. But
much of the times we had to fight against the Postal Mail system in our
countries because gouvernments have its rules and we tried to exchange
our information and articles.

Envelopes were treated in an unusual manner which causes real battles
before administrations control. To my part I did not know about the existence
of other mail art groups which were – in a certain way – “institutionalized” as
the concreted case of the “NEW YORK CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL”
founded by RAY JOHNSON. Later I go on sending my correspondence
under the idea of “COMMUNICATION FROM FAR – via postal”. Using
frequently postal cards, seals, envelopes printed in a not conventional way,
proposals to be answered by original responses.

RJ : Can you give some examples about these ‘fight against the Postal Mail

Reply on 5-9-1995

EAV: One of the most divulged cases was GENESIS P. ORRIDGE’s one, in
England. He made a series of creative postcards by using ‘collage’ methods.
He cuts out photo’s of his country’s queen making erotic positions with her
pictures. That series is confiscated by the Postal Administration besides a
judgement against the author. Defense based its explanations on different
positions from some ahierents to that international practice. At the end,
Orridge was fined more or less severely but not confined in prisson as State
had solicited for him. Later, Orridge edited the complete trial.

Talking about myself and especially during the ‘militar junta’ times from 1976
to middle 1983, I suffered an open censorship, not only on that
correspondence I received but on those sent away. That period was
particulary sad to me. That control comprised destruction of postal
correspondence to me of from me, letters containing invitations which got me
out of time to participate. In sum a cut contact with mail friends. Once an
unusual fact happened. An employee put some postal pieces into my mail
box but those would have been at Censorship Commitee. He was forced to
stop working and he had to accept an early retirement ‘by psychological
problems’. At present he goes on living in Spain where he had to go because
of that uncertain situation. Since then I tryed to modify my way of
communication and, in plus I wanted to let people in other countries know
what had happened here. Also I made a creative stamp to denounce at
international level that my eldest son ABEL LUIS had disappeared (up to
now we do not know anything about him). The result of those tricks was
satisfactory because I was able to tell people in the world about Argentina’s

Anyhow, our Postal Services goes on being corrupted. First they had
accepted to practice that control on mailing and then to steal or destroy all
sorts of postal pieces.

RJ : Well, I’m glad that my previous question DID arrive, and I also hope this
question will arrive. How (or why) did you become so interested in visual

Reply on 7-10-95

EAV: Well, most of my connections were due of my ‘DAGONAL CERO’ editions. If
I had to give a definition of myself I would choose” ‘VISUAL ANIMAL’ or


From this position I always liked to make my editions on new researches,
toward creative and different results. Ever I had tendency to visual
expression -like a sort of ‘visual animal’. To me it was better to see a design
than a word. By 1960 I made a series of ‘poetical compositions’ by using
rubber seals from the office where I was an employee. As you can imagine
those seals had no poetical inscriptions, but anyhow those compositions let
me discover the ‘poetical space’.

I mean that it was a kind of liberation from a page as a ‘real space’, doing
free use of it (the page) as support of a poem. In plus I did a series of
ironical texts where each word (sometimes with an article) formed a long text
written in vertical sense and other times, a few words were placed outside
that column to add some move for visual composition.

Later I knew other advanced theories – concrete, spacialism, cinetic,
process, etc. – and connection with poets like BORY, BLAINE, SARENCO,
CHOPIN and many others. It helped me so much that I could form my
personal writings – then ‘mathematical poetry’ starts.

I must say, I did not try to translate in numbers a kind of code to supply
words. By contrary I wanted to show that, using mathematical writing plus
adding figures and shapes of geometry, plus color use – well, it could be able
– at visual level – to form poetical projection for a posible reader. Those
words I usually choose are taken as a support in a composition and real
value is in texts which are put as titles – a sort of signal to introduce the


Nowadays, in spite of certain historical discontinuity in visual poetry, diverse
solutions make it possible to clarify and understand such divers changes
through that course. Rich oppositions, permanent searches, move this visual
poetry. This is just my opinion.

RJ : In your wonderful postcards you use always this thick carton, which you
decorate with rubberstamps and other additions. Why this choice of

Reply on 29-11-1995

EAV: I think throughout years of MAIL COMMUNICATION development a proper
language has been done, full of creativity and expression.

Postcards, stamps, rubber seals, even envelopes which contain our
correspondence, have become ‘testimonial statements of this tendency’. For
instance to compare a postcard or an envelope having official mail stamps to
the ones which have creative ones offer a great, particular difference.

Talking about myself I am certain that envelopes are it selves a space and a
surface to be particularly treated. They must be a sort of announce for its
content. But sometimes there is contrary result, an opposition between both.
On the other hand, I am certain of that creative stamps and seals have
allowed a great possibilty of renovation into mail communication as it
happens in these days and I would like pointing out the struggle against
bureaucracy in mail administrations -national and international ones-. This
has oppened a great field almost without restriction and, in plus, helps to
concrete all sorts of proposals and brings rich purposes. Postcards are in
endless evolution not only idealogical but formal too.

If we remember those modified printed cards and now we compare
nowadays cards, well, there is a wide transformation. These, in general carry
its own message keeping codes proper to postal rules. The sum of these
diverse results have been done main possibilities on postcards, stamps and
rubber seals – giving an independent field full of creative expression. In plus
it is detachable the diverse intentions into this practice to which I like to add

RJ : Most participants in the mail art network I know live in Europe and The USA.
Only a few from Africa, South America, and Asia. But whenever I participate
in a project from South America and get the documentation, I see hundreds
of participants from South-American countries (e.g. Brasil). It seems that
there are a lot of people in this part of the world that are active in mail art but
that they don’t reach out to Europe. Is the main reason economics or are
there other reasons?

Reply on 9-1-1996

EAV: In Latin America the main problem is an economical one. Especially because
of the endless military “coups d’‚tat” there are not occurate plans for
material prosperity. So the population cannot afford to go on exchanging
correspondence outside. Postal Service costs are high for Latin American
people who decide to maintain their mail activity.

To make matter worse, Postal Services in these countries are not a
guarantee, there is no insurance against loss. As a result answers become
limited to those considerate more important ones. In my case using certified
sendings which at least put forward a claim against Mail Services, in the
case of being able to prouve the sent letter did not reach its destination.
Referring to latin american mail friends, in general, they do not persist in
answering letters for long time, so dialogue stops frequently. In general latin
american callings find best reply from American people.

Anyhow I think this is a general matter in the world, I mean compatriots
accept to participate in national events preferently. Catalogs show this. One
can find those participators just under those conditions but not in the wide
network. Talking about my personal experience, well, many years ago,
Horacio Zabala and I had held an exhibition. We had to accept some
participators proposed by the gallerist for he said convocatory should be
“oppened” to everybody. But time changes some things and Argetin mail
communicators increased in number but because of different reasons. I
would like to add another matter, language knowledge even though
nowadays English makes it possible to have a wide communication. Finally I
have remarked an important increcement of Argentin adherents on diverse

RJ : Most mail artists who are active for many years, always get mail from
newcomers too. How do you explain mail art to a newcomer?


Reply on 30-1-1996

EAV: As many others I frequently receive requests for information about mail art
and how to enter the circuit. Answering I make use of the founding word of
mail art, this is “DISTANT COMMUNICATION -postal via”. I try to explain –
first- the subtle difference between them. Then in general, I send articles
photocopied about that matter, the most clear and pedagogical ones. I
advise them to make multiples for sending by mail. I add a list of mail friends
who use to answer and exchange works frequently, even to the ‘new’ mail
friends. In general I do not get new contacts with them but I receive letters
for most information from those who try to understand after having seen an
exhibition or writting articles on mail art.

Later I feel satisfied when I see their names on a list or we go on in mailing
contact in future and dialogue becomes interesting. During these last two
years – 1994/1995 – I have been receiving frequent correspondence from our
neighbor country Brasil. I have no doubt about divulgence in the press on
this practice. Publications on popular divulgence publish lists of people who
answer that correspondence. Myself I do this and feel satisfied. On the other
hand I always insist in adding lists of mail friends on catalogs to know their
names and addresses. I am certain this method is very effective.

RJ : In 1986 H.R. Fricker started a new thing in mail art with his ‘TOURISM’ and
in 1992, the next step, Decentralized Networking Congresses (DNC), meant
that even more mail artists started to meet. What do you think of these steps.
Were you active in these large projects?

Reply on 4-3-1996

EAV: I was not in contact with H.R. Fricker in 1986 so I knew about his ‘TOURISM’
later. But I got this invitation for ‘DNC’. Even if it was not the aim of H.R.F.
that kind of manifestos push ‘the institutionalism” of mail art, which I call
‘COMMUNICATION FOR DISTANCE – via postal’ Which was born as an
alternative face to predominance of art structures over creative

Mail circuits started and go on – I think – preferring not traditional places for
exhibition – Museums, Galleries, Foundations. Also the way to show their
works. Not more hierarchies, but an opening proposition to everyone who
wants to enter into this way for communication. At first there were altered
postcards, mail stamps in transgression to official ones and also creative
seals of all kinds. One cannot deny infiltration of mail art into the current and
its parallel duration. But I think, as I did take part in both, it exists subtil
differences which promote that classic discussion between a genius and a

I assume not to be able to distinguish clearly about this. Anyhow I find a
great freedom and permanence of those basic priciples of ‘DISTANCE
COMMUNICATION – via postal’. As an example I can make comment about
the constant reception of postal pieces which do not respond necessarily
reach artistic level. I think it is impossible to notice those differences, though,
as happens on the classic discussion genious and madness, there is a
subtle difference only. Meanwhile I find more freedom in mail art –
communication from far, by mail as I like to call this. The denomination
comes from that big and constant reception of mail pieces which do not
respond any aesthetic line but it is full if one observes and pays attention. I
think that Art approches and makes a sort of mimetic with mail works. This
was not a common way to enter into the alternative practice between art and
mail expressions.

I agree with this bifurcation and variety of responses before an interrogation.
Puralism means richness. In art there are beautiful catalogs and exhibitions
have wide promotion opposite to simple messages which sometimes ashame
carring a content really transgresor and look for having its own space not to
be wrong classified. I believe that art mixed to mail communication and
finally both got insert in art as an expression.

I do not find anything wrong in this bifurcation, by contrary, plurality means
richness. On the other hand, instead of beautiful catalogs, art exhibitions
well promoted, mail communication becomes a transgressor work, which
makes a continual resistance to be classified in a wrong way.

Everytime a young participator begins his first steps display great,
surprisingly ingenuity breaking out what it is accepted as order and beauty.
Maybe, after some time he searches for surpassing his primary works or he
goes on following the same structures. Each one is free from making his own
choice. Luckily each one can choose, for the moment there is a friendly

To my opinion mail art or – as I want to call it ‘Distant Communication’,
should not risk to fall dlown in doing beautiful, de luxe sendings which is not
in primary purpose.


I know, we, in the mail art communication have similar problems to artists in
general, There are deep, serious deals to carry out. My activity goes on and
never has to stop even though I respond or refuse participation as I like. I
hope to participate in future as free as always, doing creative works without
doing art.

I choose and accept to participate in creative invitations but do not accept
certain impositions. So I cannot put conditions face to people appreciation
towards my work because in this way I would put conditions limiting the
judgement of others. Everything must be ‘OPENED’ to everyone

RJ : You have probably heard of the new network for communication, the
Internet, in which computer-users can communicate by phone-lines. In the
USA it has taken over a great deal of the normal correspondance, and the
same is happening in Europe. However, this communication-tool is not
OPEN to everybody, because one needs still a lot of money for the access
(computer, phone, modem, etc.) What are your thoughts about this new tool
for communication?

Reply on 26-5-1996

EAV : Actual technology invents permanently new ways of communication. For the
moment INTERNET is the “boom” but I think, before this can be used by the
artists, it will be another system, better, surpassing its possibilities. I am
certain, that dramatic situation is due of a technology which progresses in a
permanent way. Before analyzing the results, there are other ones, more
sophisticated and better

This ‘CONSTANT DISPLACEMENT’ has brought an evident displeasure, its
result are rather ominous for Society. Another sign could be the ‘crack’ of
equilibrium between products and work. Unemployment of workers is an
universal problem today. In the question there is already signed the problem
about a non ‘opened communication’ and all those who cannot make use of
that. Also costs brought another problem: developed countries will have
offered those communication systems before, so Latin-America and others
will be behind.

I am not in opposition to Internet, a system to which I adhere theoretically,
but I must remark parallel problems. There is still another question more
difficult. At least at personal level. Since long I am worried about the problem
between ‘presentation’ and ‘representation’ into creative area. I think this
idea was proposed by Pierre Restany. And I think, once more we are faced
to an inquiry. The Internet adds to representative methods, with drawing us
from real creative product which is the piece itself. It is possible to transmit
an image perfectly, also it gets benefite from a widest divulgence and adding
a great number of possibilities for communication. But that ‘shown’ work will
remain its author or it will belong to another one.

Then, to be shorter, if Internet systems cannot find its own expression and
from it to codify a creative system, it will go on summing another element
more to always searched perfection, in this case, communications.

In this way I try to remarque the differencies which I observe but I do not
addhere to those who deny today communication ways. The same happened
about ‘fax’ and its succes but nowadays it seems obsolete, at least it cannot
destroy mail art and others.

Today the computer is considered as a tool for communication. Means offer
solution face to the problem of expression but always man makes it possible
to find a creative tool. Communication means do not find solution about
expressing matters, only man could reach ‘CREATIVE FACT’ by making use
of the impulse, necessary to change a simple fact of communicative tool into

RJ : Your mail art always contains some kind of message. What is the most
important message that you are trying to get ‘into the world’ with your mail

Reply on 24-7-1996

EAV: I have always done my works free from imposition. My subjects are very
heterogeneous and always as a kind of reaction from some exterior actions.
In general those that push my interest to express my opinion come from
social and political fields. In ‘DISTANT COMMUNICATION – via postal’
becomes more extensive into these lands because it is possible to add
proposals from outside or by third ones.

There is an extraordinary richness and especially in last time very clever
subjects appears. After many years in this activity one must surpass some
old themes. This challenge has made an interesting encreasement. On the
other hand, very few invitations have ‘free theme’ so people who invite
search for very creative answers. Talking about myself I do not limite myself
to political or social subjects. I like very much irony in certain habits, the
puns which let us make an alteration in certain established concepts. And,
finally, some accepted opinions in the land of genuine aesthetic to which I
am fond of. I do not send a message, or at least I do not search for it. I like to
keep on being irreverent, but I try to go on following those primary postulates
of mail communication. Free from hierarchies, be simple in order to maintain
a wide range of possibilities for a communication without limits cause of
aesthetical or formal ways which could cause a refusal which is not desired.

These thoughts do not deny my consequent position about certain rules, for
instance my permanent concern to improve my works. On the other hand, my
appreciation for them is not free from my own judgement, by contrary,
another is the opinion from other people – conclusion must be different, at
personal level.

RJ : A lot of mail artists nowadays (also the newcomers in the mail art network)
use the words Dada and Fluxus in their rubber stamps and artworks. What
do these words mean to you?

reply on 3-9-1996

EAV: Based on the origin of “communication from far-postal via” this seems, to me,
“natural” it occurs. I do not forget the transgressor character of this tendency
in the beginning. Its priciples resemble both movements in order to postulate
a sort of anti-art. Especially DADA and, in spite of being incorporated as an
art institution (let me call it ‘official’ to make a certain difference between
those other intents) and even FLUXUS promote a non systematical rebellion
face to most common postulates. I think, DADA and FLUXUS proposed a
kind of asystematical postulates face to the most current ones. maybe DADA
and FLUXUS begin a new way to aim creative art by basing it in a position.

To do this they started a new way of acting as the result of a new
‘commication’ towards society – even if they attack it on purpose. But one
must signal a difference of world ‘affront’ because it was not an act of
violence but violence against rules which generated ‘the conventional’. This
started a ‘new fact’ specially in DADA since change began from actions
which became facts. On parallel it started ‘creative facts’, impelling fonetics
and visual poetry, and ‘phonic’ ones too. FLUXUS retakes dada spirit
cleverly and in spite of coincidences it obtained an ‘identity’ characteristic.

All those branches, DADA starts, FLUXUS continuity undertake many
adherents of ‘distant communication’ , postal via, since they want to detach
from all that which is considered art. Once more I refuse the term MAIL ART
and retake original one more exact of “DISTANT COMMUNICATION – postal
via” since in it there is a strong wish to set apart from what can be
considered art. Once more I reject the word POSTAL ART as I tried to
explain in this postal report and go on saying “DISTANT COMMUNICATION
– postal via”. And I find a historical projecting which reaches even nowadays
of that “DADA impulse”. As Neo-Dadaisme based on American POP ART
pioneers and numerous contestarian groups after Second World War. That
influence was a sort of revolution never finished. DADA had a short
foundation period but it went on living up to now at international level and
also in many national ones. Like sea water constantly moving, it comes and

RJ You dated you letter “La Plata, 26.08.2000-4”. What do you expect from the
year 2000? Is it the start of something, or the end of something?

Reply on 5-11-1996

EAV: There is a popular sentence here, in my country, about the year one is living
at present: “THIS IS A YEAR MORE OF LIFE” , but there is a reply -more
pessimistic- “THIS IS A YEAR LESS” . But referring to the year 2000
obviously this is the beginning of a new mile age. Multiples thoughts emerge
to be able to inaugurate this time.

You ask me on ‘2000-4’. Well, I just mean we must still live four years to
reach year 2000. I am telling you that, when we reached year 1990 I began
dating my letters ‘1900-90’. I emphasized the way to read that date. Going
on, arriving at 1991 I wrote ‘1900-90 and 1’ or ‘1900-90 and one’. This way
until 1994. Reaching 1995 and nearest year 2,000 a sort of backward
account so I wrote that year ‘2000-5’. This way I try to explain how I arrive at
1996. I did not have the intention to sum or to substract each new year. The
same idea prevail referring to the arrival of the year 2000.

I think, the first decades of that new millenium will be determinant ones. If we
take, as previous antecedents what happened in 1900 -XX century- that idea
becomes certain since ‘Industrial Revolution’ – be born end of XIX century –
acts as foundational element developing new views in many lands. For
instance in creative ones, there is no doubt, the two first decades gave all
what was developed through the XX century. New techniques produced a
great impact at communicational level – as computation and Internet – ends
of XX century. Probably a new language will appear as a codified system at
creative level. On this point of view I dare to believe the new millenium is the
end of certain things and the birth of anothers, as a kind of ‘CONTINUITY
OF DISCONTINUANCE’. I mean, in general people have certain tendency to
accept ‘WHAT IS THE NEW’ – just because that is newest. Even if it has no

32276_415903617989_501252989_5384403_7588624_nRJ : Is it easy to do something NEW in the mail art network when one looks back on everything that has been done already? Is it o.k if new mail artists are repeating things that have been done decades ago?

answer on 3-2-1997

EAV: All creative manifestation whith development, attains what is really NEW. In its full beginning, increasement and development personal contributions are richer and diverse because open space is infinite. This way, it is possible to
observe how much people succeed in innovating the land with their creative messages: In this case about ‘DISTANT COMMUNICATION – postal via’  In these days possibilities to change or surprise have become shorter, just in time to time appears someone who manages to do something really new.  On the other hand creative tendencies and their lands for participation can limit or not-improvement towards ‘the new’ .

‘COMMUNICATION FROM FAR – postal via’ has made apportations about
that new tendency, bringing structural changes to make it richer. Since those
postal pieces, taken out from context until what was RAY JOHNSON’S
institutionalization in 1960, modified postcards, stamps, seals, and unusual
materials to be sent by post, all them show a constant encreasement almost
until these days. Possibly there is a sort of ‘CREATIVE IMPASSE’ at present
but luckily saved for the constant possibilities that diverse elements bring. As
an example – which seems to me more evident and characteristic – I detache
hand made ‘envelopes’. I observe in them employed materials and their
conceptual way to be made , colors and collage of very different elements, in
plus their conceptual way of being assembled. Also diagramation in seals
and stamps. Many of them bring independent ideas and, recently ‘stickers’
let us think ideas and are infinite images. Evidently it is easy to find this high
degree of rich creativity into a great number of nowadays collections. I do
not know if we are on top of this practice possibilities but to my opinion I feel
optimistic. We are in close proximity to a new Century and many changes
are expected of course. To my opinion communication ‘by Mail’ should be
replaced by other ways and possibly at present we cannot even imagine how
communication should be. What technology would be in use for
communication by mail.

RJ : Well, as you probably are aware of this mail-interview project also has to do
with all the current available communication-forms. Questions travel by mail ,
electronic mail, personal delivory, fax, anything that is possible at the
moment. It seems that the new ways of communication are mostly technical.
Someone suggested however that teleportation would be possible in the
near future as well. How realistic are the views we have of our future

next answer on 28-8-1997

EAV: First of all I would like to explain to the reader of this interview that, the
dialogue maintained to RAY JOHNSON has allways been through
‘COMMUNICATION FOR FAR – postal via’ but referring to the question, I
think the amount of diverse ways imagined for the future contain so many
ideas that will make possible to suggest not only coherent things but other
ones near utopia. So, to predict the future remains open to all kind of
propositions based not only on techniques in development but in
communication means, also those ones based on ‘supositions’. In the future
reality will show right things, mistakes, approximations and so on….

To my opinion, the situation becomes very difficult – as INGMAR BERGMAN
said : “as much as man produces and disposes in communication means –
too soft – more encreases ‘ PERSONAL INCOMMUNICATION ‘ , this is, one
becomes more and more distant from the other. There is no doubt, for us,
who need ‘DIRECT DIALOGUE’ it will be hard to accept all that so complex
for understanding that finally expected communication is not reached. This
is, one gets more distant from the other one.

For almost all religions a prayer becomes a kind of dialogue between one
who suplicates and the divinity listens, this is very touching. But nowadays
people must preserve their security so before opening the house door it is
necessary to know who is outside. This brings us to certain reced to the
other one. Well, today there is a proposal for loving throughout Internet,
probably this new sort of communication would bring comprehension of
messages, but I insist repeating that mechanical pieces ‘cannot cut dialogue
from person to person’.

RJ : Well, I guess it is time to end the interview now so others can read about
your thoughts as well. Is there anything I forgot to ask?

On November 14th I read the e-mail that is sent to my tam@dds.nl account. I received
an e-mail from Clemente Padin (Uruguay) which he sent on November 6th. In this
message the sad news that Edgardo Antonio Vigo died on November 4th 1997. A very
sad ending to this interview. I will miss the mail Edgardo always sent to me……

Address mail-artist:

Casilla de Correo 264
Provincia Buenos Aires

Address interviewer:

Ruud Janssen – TAM
P.O.Box 1055
4801 BB  Breda
e-mail : r.janssen@iuoma.org

mail-interview with E.F. Higgins III – USA



TAM 960138



Started on: 16-05-1995

RJ : Welcome to this mail-interview. First let me ask you the traditional question. When did you get involved in the mail-art network?

Reply on: 15-9-95

EFH: Thanks for the invite to the interview. I haven’t been doing much international mail art for a number of years, due to the postal rates, & I was spending US$ 700 a year on postage there for a while. To answer your question, I got involved in the mail art network about 1975-’76. At the Univesity of Colorado, I was working with paintings & printmaking, working from “2-D” objects as my models. Posters, Postcards, Play money, Stamps, envelopes, etc. I produced the first sheet of Doo Da art stamps in 1975. Right around that time a visiting artist. Edwin Golik Golikoff, a N.Y. Artist, living in Denver, told me about mail art, Buster Cleveland, Ray Johnson, Anna Banana, etc. I started mailing the stamps, collages etc. around then.

RJ : What were the first reactions of the people you started to mail your works to?

Reply on 5-10-1995

EFH: That would be hard to figure, as I wasn’t there, when they got their mail. Mail art is neither a wrapped gift to a friend at their birthday Party, nor a Rauschenburg, in a show, in a Museum, in a collection, reproduced in an Art Business Magazine, commented about by “Art Critics” etc. etc.

Judging from the responses, from other artists, through the mails, some of my stuff must have interested some to respond. The many different mail artists’ correspondances revealed the miraid various influences affecting these artists. Golikoff used a typewriter, & puns in many of his letters & postcards. Ray Johnson, his grey copies of drawings, gosip, & puns. His surreal puns, sometimes understood. Concrete poetry, newspaper & picture collage, pornography, manifestos, self-documentation, self-historification, self-promotion, were some of the things sent, received, & seen in mail art show catalogues.

One of these things were stamps; on the letters from real countries, artists stamps, & rubber stamps. Due to my background interest, I gravitated to corresponding, with these concerns, to other artists & shows having this as a format or main idea. The 1975 Show of Artist Stamps at Simon Frazier university, B.C., Canada, organized by Jas. W. Fetler, visually introduced me to the world of the following artists from that show: Pat Tavenner, Joel Smith, Donald Evans, Ken Friedman, Robert Watts, Bernd Lobach, Endre Tot, Klaus Burkhardt, Carl Camu, Dieter Roth, George Ashley, & Ad Varney of the Coach House Press.

I was a painter & printmaker, and carried these diciplines into my mail art activity, most notably, Painting Doo Da Stamps. Often these 16″ x 18″ paintings were photographically reduced, and printed as sheets of stamps with the color copier, perforated, & used in mail art. As a printmaker in the traditional methods, the color copier was an explosive discovery to me. No longer did time & money restricted the imagery, edition, distribution etc. To spend 2 hours each pulling an edition of Etchings, tends to discourage mailing off a dozen or so to friends, and push one more into the $ Art Gallery system.

RJ : I can understand the influence of a color copier. Some choose for a large color copy, but it seems you like to reduce your works to even smaller pieces, into artistamps. Why is this artistamp so interesting for you?

Reply on 17-10-1995

EFH: To color copy print from a large un-related artwork, such as a painting, sculpture, etc. , as an edition print seems silly exept as documentation, doing huge injustice to both the original medium & the traditional printing process. Picasso may have done a series of etchings based on his painting “Guernica”, but the prints intrinsic method, process, & look, have more to do with these concerns, than reproducing the painting. He didn’t print 300 color copy prints of a photo of the painting.

When Warhol painted a 12 ft. square “Hammer & Sycle”, “Deaths Head”, or whatever, he probably had a pretty good idea it would “Read” when reproduced, 4 inches by four inches in some art magazine. Hireonimus Bosch probably didn’t have this thought occur to him… check it out. Photography has changed the making of art, & definately Art & Business. Wouldn’t a 12″ x 12″ Warhol have sufficed?

When I paint the Doo Da Stamp Paintings, it is understood by me that they are ment to be used to make stamps. The lettering is there, the 3P or what-ever denomination is there. It isn’t, in most cases, added later. Hence, the painting becomes, what traditionally was known as a rough sketch, ie, a creative work done in the process to achieve the invisioned final “Work”. To delegate painting to this role, “making color copy artstamps”, turns tradition on its head, & really pisses off the Art Gallery system.

If creativity, through a process, isn’t TRANSFORMED BY THAT PROCESS, it is hardly creative in my opinion. A photo, slide, or color copy may be functional, helpful, or useful in describing another artwork, but unless it is transformed, it’s work$job.

ARTISTAMPS, like their traditional cousins, “Govn’t minted miniature prints”, share significant similarities – the main one being, I think, the imagry on them, ie “relating to the people, lands, ideas, nature, accomplishments, celebrations, religions, etc. of the country.” The correspondence carried by the regular stamps, becomes the correspondance, carried by the Artistamps in mail art, that joious dance of the muses amongst us.

How wonderful to have perhaps correspondanced with a guy from the “country” of Gauguin, Cavellini apparently correspondanced with some amazing “countries” to hear him tell it!!!

What kind of artstamps would a “country” of Picasso have produced?, & my!, wouldn’t that have been fun.!!!?

The “COUNTRIES” of TUI-TUI, Blurr, BANANA, TRIANGLE, JOKI, & NETLAND, to name a few, are alive & well!!! By in large, unlike the Govn’t issues, these countries have the continuity of one or two creative beings in charge of the postal issues for many, many years.

If you ever got a letter from someone in a different country, the stamps, & rubber stamp cancellation marks were a wonderful part of getting that letter. Sometimes their correspondence to you reflected the stamp imagery or not. Artistamps on mail art is a BEAUTY!

I have seen wonderful stamps from countries I may never visit – some even with that country’s art I may never see. With artistamps, the ART VISITS YOU, not you visiting the museum! I am not against travel or museums, actually, I love both, but to have these “COUNTRIES” visit YOU, sometimes unexpectedly, is a treat!!!

P.S. During construction work, that I do to make a living, when somebody screws-up, I put two things to them: #1 “There’s 4 things you gotta remember if you want to be a plumber:

(1) “H” stands for hot.
(2) “C” stands for cold.
(3) Friday’s payday,

The other thing I put to them is more insideous. After they’ve escaped a major disaster, for themselves, as well as others on the job, I ask ’em, “HEY! WHO PAYS YOU????? & before they can answer, I yell in their face, “SAFETY PAYS!!!

Not too long ago, here in America, some young kid burned down the house, a trailer actually, having learned fire is lighters & fun from some cartoon character named Bevis & Butthead. And now, to legally sell lighters here in Amreica, they have to be “Child-Proof”. The only swear word or obscenity I ever heard my father utter, in 50 years, was ___________, as he was teaching me power tools when I was, …. oh, maybe 13 or 14 years old, when he nearly cut off his finger.

RJ : Are there other stories of your childhood that have had an impact on your the art you produce nowadays?

Reply on 14-11-1995

EFH: Stories? …?

RJ : Ah…

EFH: Well, there once was a gal from Nantucket…

RJ : Actually, influences…. were there any other significant …

EFH: Oh, … you mean like stuff places, & people?

RJ : Yea.

EFH: I suppose, in everyones’ life, there’s things to remember; if you asked anyone else, they’d say something like, “What?”, even if they knew them very well, when they heard the reply. When I meet people in bars, I tell ’em: “I’m 59 years old.” I think I’ve been doing this for the last 10 years or so.

As a youngster, growing up in a small town outside of Chicago, I had the good luck, or some may say, the “IMPRINTING” (like you see the T.V. show showing you how to have the young condors learn the wild, by eating raw meat from a puppet hand, that looks like a (they suppose) adult), to learn many things.

Probably, if anybody’s still around, from back then, they’d tell you a different story, than what’d you figure from .. say the writings of Jules Verne, Lewis Carrol or Edgar Allen Poe. “So the guy sez to me in a bar in Kankakee, Ill. , he was out of work or something…., ‘apparently this guy breaks into the PICASSO museum … didn’t like a painting, or sumptin’,,,,& PAINTS OVER A PART OF IT!!!!!!!..’ “so the story goes,”;& Picasso himself was in town, or sumptin’….& they get him out there for insurance purposes, you know, to assertain the damage, & whadda think he sez… you know, after looking at it and all…??? ‘I look into the distance, trying to figure what the pablo might have’a said, as I looked him up & down, figuring iz this guy crazy or can he buy me another beer, when he says something….’

You mean that kind of story?

RJ : What’s Picasso say?

EFH: Well, He looked at the “Damage, & pulling at his jaw, said “Not Bad.”

RJ : “Did he actually…”

EFH: “Oh, Not that story…… O.K. , Hello Buster, to assume a painter, Stamp maker, or what-ever didn’t used to have some fun at writing would be to deny Claes Oldenbug & all of Chicago humor.

Here’s the thing: Since RJ asked the question about other stories of my childhood, “that have had an impact… etc….”, I have invented his “dialogue” or return questions. I don’t have a computer or e-mail….& have been corresponding with a young cartoonist that….. He does the drawing. I’ll do the story line. Met ’em on the train from Chicago to GRAND CENTRAL.

So, If RJ decides to run this part of the interview, please understand, we didn’t just send mail to undrstand one short word… Sometimes people talk like that. Ruud, my apologies.

Trying not to get side-tracked, on the interview, but it depends on how you’re traveling, & but, anyway, we all gotta stop for eats, piss & Clear Stars.

THE ASS HOLE MUST THINK HE’S A WRITER Chapter 2 , Hemmings’ typist gor $25. Bucks a page (back then)

Well, enough of my….a….ah….., well, anyway, if this is supposed to be about Artistamps , or mail art, ….here’s a reply from Joel Smith, from Illinois, Illinoise. (One of the best, in my opinion, that makes Art Stamps).

(E.F. Higgins included a copy with a small text about Joel Smith’s Artistamps where is explained shortly how he makes them and motivated why….)

RJ : What do you think is important enough that I should ask you? Don’t start to think too much, just figure out what you think I should know, and than give the answer…….

(After some silence I first received a postcard from E.F. Higgins, and a bit later his answer with in the envelope also some of his new artistamps).

Reply on 4-3-1996

EFH: Art. At some point, in the development of human beings, we noticed our ability to control our bodies. At first this was mostly useful, to survive. & reproduce. At this early stage, was the start of many future developments, that chrystalized for thousands of years, to get to the point of drawing bison on cave walls.

The brain was developing also. Cause & Effect. We get together to chip the flint this way, (the ‘ol guy said so), tie the gut rope, such way on the wood (tree-part), & we stick into the big eatable-thing.

28 years old, was OLD. GrandPaw,…..maybe.

And so they persevered. These Humanoids. With their brain growing, their skills developing, & & The strongest leader, always led. But, DRAWING the sticking on the wall!!!! WOW What is that?

Apparently, or maybe, the early OLD, (previously BIG STRONG) learned how to run a crew & explain, in whatever “language” they had back then, how to get the food, & not get dead, on account of getting hooked on one of those nasty tusks.

Survival instincts have thousands of years over religions, Philosophy, & Art. Somewhere in there, as we tribes got bigger, needing a sort of Organization, Heireicy happened again. And what do you suppose they used as an argument:? “Doesn’t matter, BOB, you usta be good on the hunt, These drawings, & (& I admit) along with these guys decide you don’t know what you’re doing.” …. & besides,……

Did that cave drawer get amazed at his or her DRAWING, or do you suppose it was a survival instinct? And today, Here in 1996, I wonder who’s doing what for what reason.

Back to you R.J.

RJ : What are YOU doing EFH? (to make it easy, what did you do today?)

(On 12-3-1996 I received an envelope from E.F. Higgins with in it two artistamps with an envelope on them with the text “Artist Creative, Originator, Genius, Hommage a Ray – Mail Art”. No letter was included, and the envelope the artistamps were sent in was one of the special stamped envelopes I normally use to send my answers/questions in. The envelope was decorated in the typical style of Higgins with artistamps and rubberstamps.)

RJ : How way you correspondance with Ray?

Reply on 30-3-1996

EFH: Kennedy had been shot. I may have been young, but I wasn’t old. Yesterday I thought of askingpeople that write me to send me a batch of stickers or address labels because it seems to take so long to walk around & look up their addresses, after figuring where I put it.

The knees ain’t what they used to be. Like most 59 year old men, other than the normal regrets, Ray’s Death bothered me. Kennedy’s death bothered me in a younger way…Then. I was 25 when my 21 year old brother died, of the bends, working on a oil-rig off Bankock. The T.V. says americans go there to get young sex, & maybe get AIDS. This was before that. & thats that. This is what?

Somewhere in there Bukowski refused to bowl with the Midgets, & I howled it last saturday in SOHO, N.Y.C., where all the Art Galleries have turned into womens shoe shops, and Harry was good news: two things: Couple thou for one of his big Paintings, & the other guy traded him a Jean Michael Basquait…. Buster ‘n I used to lend him a buck now & then years ago, when we would sit out on the corner of West-Broadway & Spring St,’s & he was spray painting his poetry.

I have been reading up on computers. Wow! The best way to bowl is get some salad, beers, warm weather, & try your best as you remember saturday mornings in the midwest in the junior bowling league. Remember the bigness of the place. Head high pin-ball machines. DON’T DROP IT! & don’t touch those! swimming lessons. The Balanger Brothers stealing those maybe same balls years later to drop them on cemi’s… off the overpass. I-94.. Or maybe it was ol 66. Joliet, Illinois inmates make liecense Plates for the cars. No state has anything about bowling on their Liescence Plates. What does it say on the plates of the country of Doo Da? It’s a small country

(Here was printed the stamp of Higgins mentioning: “The country of DooDa is 12 feet in any direction from where Higgins is, at any given time.”)

& then the girls get there, bringing out the salad, as we’re drinking beer, turning over the hamburgers, the new one hours later, sang a better Hank than Hank Williams. & No she wasn’t wearing a poka dot dress, but when I went into the kitchen, to see how she’d do on the ice-cube thing, they had the T.V. on, & I noticed how the guys that got strikes, had a Right handed kind of glove, & aimed at the right side of the lane way down there, & they gave it a right handed twist, so’s it would look like it’s almost ginna get in the gutter, & then would come back, & BOOM!!! hit the #1 ball at about 5:23 (O’Clock)

I don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, thats taken care of. Many stories have the average person. But how to end it? I for one don’t believe for a minute, Ray jumped into that River. But as we say in Hollywood, But will it make Mney$$$????????

If this interview (to the reader) seems a bit disjointed, it’s because the obstinanstance of mailed Q. & A through the mails: When the Galantois where here, we goofed around with a power tool called a “Router”. We had great fun drawing on wood with this machine. What it does, this machine, is carve into wood, at 32,000 R.P.M. to facilitate WOOD Prints, on such, usuallly non-traditional materials as Plywood. Man!, you can ink it up with a hard rubber roller, & Print on anything, & I wonder if it will wear out faster than them Copper Plates that Rembrandt worked on.

Back when I was in Highschool, I had a Professor, by the name of Dr. Eastwood, encouraged me in the creative writing, since then, I’ve more gone into the Visuals, than the writing.

(Perhaps it shows!)

Creativity is a wondermunt!… It should definately be encouraged. The IDEA is not a few, well distributed images or Poems, to Fakely tell somebody, that they’re better than anybody else.

OK Here’s the Story:

” Diego Rievera, Esher, & Wan Gris walk into this bar in Kankakee, Illinois, (U.S.A.), they have cartoons playing on the T.V.. Diego Rievera brought with him a $100.00 painting of some sort of a Gun-fight, he’d got at the antique shop. Esher was trying to buy schnopps for the bar, as I put in Two bucks worth of Hank on the Juke, trying to remember where I put the Halstead line…..

Written interviews to Creative Genieuses tend to look like this in print.

RJ : Any more news about the country of DOO DA? Do they use firecrackers there?

Reply on 1-6-1996

EFH: Dear RJ: When I was a child, there was a Museum called the “Knight”. It was somewhere in Chicago & had a pile of chains, stacked up out in front. The size of the links were about 3 feet, and this was from the Civil War era, used, they said or remembered them saying, “Used to shut the port of Charleston…. had it across the RIVER!!!… no ships could come in or out!”

Inside were neat suits of armor, & miniture little diarammas, similar to what you might see at the N.Y.C. Museums’ of Natural history, depicting say something, like… eskimo villages, or early American Indians in their Long-Houses, with part of the little roofs cut away so you could see in, except these diaramas showed people impaled on sharpened trunk-roots on living trees…. & as I remember, the scale was about the same, but I was smaller back then, & only seen the Teddy Roosevelt/Indian statue after I got there.

But I disgress, ….You asked about Doo Da, & If we use firecrackers here.

Firecrackers, traditionally are used to CELEBRATE. The spirit of Independence & all that. Gunpowder, attributed to being invented by the Chinese, before Marco Polo went there, was modifided within the last century to give off more of a silver Bang, than a KA-BOOM, when used in the aformentioned, “Firecrackers”.

The “KA-BOOM” fork in the road has certantly been traveled by not only them guys inventing “C-4”, Clamore, &assorted other Big Booms, but apparently the Uni-Bomber, several major Govn’ts, & a whole host of greedy “El Ka-Boomers!!!” This is not “FIRECRACKERS”, as we have come to know & love the celebration. Thomas Pane, or the guy that wrote the other things other than Gullivers Travels, …what was his name…? 1 Tom Jefferson. Or maybe you were 12 years old, & you had a friend, name of Jonnie Vance, with a brother that was astationed down in Georgia, & you made a list, & saved up your Paper-route money to get some Lady-Fingers, Bottle-Rockets, & some “16’s”.

I was 14, she was 13. I told her I’d been shot in a gang war. It was at Chicago beach. I still had the bandage on my right arm, & couldn’t get it wet….. I peeked the white, plastic to show her the 32 black stitches & she was duely impressed. She had the most beautiful Blue-Green eyes & not so bad looking in her swim-suit, that I’d seen in days!!!!! (Hard Drive on the Typing fingers today after, once again, becoming,… THE TILE MAN)!!!!!

When the Doctor stitched me up, he asked “Doorknob?”. “Empty CO2” I said.

“Gorgonzola!!!” I initially said, looking at the Blue Cheese Brand Firecracker Painting. stacked against the Perforator, “Stilton!!!” I thought loudly to myself, somewhat pleased.

“When we were kids,” the doc said, “we used to do doorknobs.”

Later, I found out that, he & his gang were making firecrackers, out of matchheads. (Look it up on the Internet). But I swear to you, the guy I talked to, kinda kreepy, Ya know? come to my Painting Show at the “X OXO” Gallery, didn’t get the idea from me….. Hells Bells, ……Midwest farmers been making trout ponds for years…. WATER IN, WATER OUT.

“The Stream Runs Trou!” (Ray Kelly & the Rivington School)

I’ve been doing this stuff for years long enough, to respect, when it says on the lable, “THIN SET-MORTER MIX”. (¼ contains PORTLAND CEMENT) I try not to use my hands that are rapidly turning into gravel-scoops, as the mixer-things. I left the hand lotion on the job day before yesterday, & was amazed it wasn’t home, after a prefuntctory clean-up. I told them, if they want to use some you’re welcome, but, I’m taking it home, ’cause yesterday, I missed it.

I am working this job to save up money to get a computer. All winter I didn’t feel like painting, I didn’t deal much cards, I was as they say HIBERNATING. The guy I’m working for, ‘s 26….he said he’d been watching T.V. all winter & ……

We’re working on 42nd St/10-11th sts. Avenues. I’m supposed to be there tomorrow in 3 hours. If they fire me, who they gonna get?

It’s the Theatre district, Film. (Till this job, haven’t been there in years…..& WOW…. will ya look at what they’re trying to do! “What’d he say?”

THE IDEA BEING CELEBRATION of the use of Firecrackers in the country of Doo Da. Something for the kids… Legal! Ah, but it’s all now well so compartmentalized. “AH, don’t worry about that!…Let the experts handle it. Like Dan Rather experting on the NEWS? Like Phil Donahue experting on United Statesers too much fat time, & interest in Perversions? “Look,” I’m gonna say to my kids someday, I hope, “That’s horsemanure… the reason it don’t smell’s they eat grain. Mix it with that leaf stuff. (& later) Now this batch is what the tomatoes eat!….got that? Put a batch of it in that old tire, set it in a sunny place, & we’re gonna grow some of the best tasting tomatoes (with appologies to Dan Quale) you ever had.”

Celebration is not every night. When rare becomes normal, then what do they want. Travelers would bring back strange & un-usual things. Probably from indigenous peoples & some of their stuff or/the food.
With mail art, in the Raw, artists are exposed to these images, ideas, & thoughts poems directly. If we can’t, do you think the Normal can? & lets get the ambassadors not appointed by political connections or contributions, but… hey, we are the ambassadors! SEND WHAT YOU WANT.! People without a culture are more apt to….

Ruud, how long you wanna go on with this thing? This kid I met on the train from Chicago, I’m working on the second “Mc” detective thing, sent him 7 pages, & we haven’t got him to Australia yet, but he called today, saying maybe it’s O.K. If the comic book goes a little long…… Said it was probably right he didn’t send the 50 Bucks till I finished the story, but he just got out of school, & was starting on the picture part.

RJ : O.K. I can understand the hint. I will rap up this interview now and see how it would fit in a printed booklet. Unless there was something I really frogot to ask you?

reply on 23-8-1996

EFH: How about “How’s the Fishin’?” Just got back from my cousins wedding out west & saw batches of Kids, all related to me, went to a day of Poderosa Ranch & Trout fishing. Kids are great. My Hat’s off to Pawel Petaz, C.T. Chew, Ed Varney, Pat Beilman, Anna banana & All the rest of ’em (stamp artists) that keep at it in the face of this wonderment. That’s the Art.

Address mail-artist:

153 LUDLOW Apt.#6
New York , NY 10002-2229

© illustrations by E.F. Higgins III

mail-interview with Dobrica Kamperelic – Yugoslavia


Image (819)

Started on: 3-11-1994

RJ : Welcome to this mail-interview. First let me ask you the traditional question. When did you get involved in the mail-art network?

Reply on: 29-11-1994

DK : Dear Ruud, if I remind well, my friend Darko Rošulj, visual-poet, literary critic, technical editor in publishing house NOLIT (where I’m working too) gave me in 1978 some m.a. invitations and introduced me with some interesting art-people/alter-artists…. Than, I’ve started to collaborate in/with WEST-EAST, international association for concrete and visual poetry, I found many addresses from alter-artists all over the world and became a mail-artist that time. My first (collective) project/exhibition has been in 1981 at Beograd’s Town Library (where I’ve been working 1976/1977) and was named “ARS AS IDEA”. After this project I’ve been real mail-artist with many m.a. projects, contacts, full-relationships (meetings) etc.. etc..

RJ : Most mail-artists know you best by your magazine “OPEN WORLD” of which you are now preparing Nr. 82. In spite of the economical boycott and crisis situation in Yugoslavia you still managed to keep on publishing this magazine. How important is this magazine for you, and how important is this magazine for the m.a. network?

Reply on : 20-3-1995

(Due to the WAR-situation in Yugoslavia the second question never arrived in Beograd. I found this out when I wrote to Dobrica again and asked him again for his second answer. Dobrica then wrote me that the letter was lost, but he send an open answer that follows up his first answer. I used this reply as his second answer)
DK : When I started with international art-communication in the far seventies, as collaborator of WEST-EAST international association for concrete + visual poetry, I did my best for international understanding and art cooperation, broaden my mind. I’ve done over 20 mail art projects (exhibits, performances, art-actions, radio-network projects, feed-back card projects etc.) and more then 60 foreign guests (performers, mail artists or just artists) from Japan, Holland, Canada, Italy, Germany, Belgium, USA, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary…. Of course, many, many meetings with (former) YU mail artists, cooperative projects under UN sanctions, isolated, frustrated…. And I’m still incarnation of an OPEN WORLD(SIC!) = the title of my m.a. magazine from 1985 (just ten years ago I started with it). Nowadays, in a sense let down, nothing special happened in the network: we/networkers couldn’t change this (walking) fuckin’ world of rich countries (very few) and many, many poor people in Asia, Africa, South America, Europe…. Art institutions are still closed, usually, for mail art. Naughty artists who make it couldn’t explain the essence of it… The most part of people couldn’t understand what we are doing and what we want to do. This is not just clear, better is – communication art and/or network.

As a member of two art associations (fine artists and writers) in my country I have sometimes problems with my mail art activity (its silly activity as my friends/artists and writers understood it). I’ve spent very much money in the passed 15 years…. Why am I still in the mail art network? Well,, because I’m still a dreamer, I’m still believing in OPEN WORLD, I prefer friendship, I like the exchange of good art ideas (materials is usually poor!) and energy…. I’m an utopist, that’s a fact.

Oh, its determined by time and money (any m.a. engagement) into stuffy situation of art-market and “serious” art. Bearing this in mind, I’ll make new bigger mail art projects…. and I am dreaming about a network world trip (just dreaming)… If I’ll realize it I’ll make a new book and finish my activity, probably.

RJ : Even during this war-time in Yugoslavia you continued with you mail-art and did some wonderful projects. Could you tell a bit more about that?

Reply on : 11-4-1995
DK : Thanks. Yes, I did. Out of spite, since 1991 , summer (when Bob Kirkman from Chico/California was my guest) war-time in former Yugoslavia still exists, I did several projects…. 1991/1992. I made 5 solo exhibitions and over 20 performances, installations and rest-actions. In 1992 I also published the book “Art as communication”. In 1993 , under strong embargo situation and UN sanctions v.s. Yugoslavia and fuckin’ blockade, when my existence was in danger, I made next multimedia-art projects (not strict m.a. , but it included m.a. too): “INTERRELATIONSHIPS” , “FLYING-ART OPEN WORLD SHOW” and “BACK THE SMILE ON FACES”. All those international exhibitions + multimedia-art programs (performances, installations, video-art etc.) I realized in extreme hard times. I became a member of ULUS (Serbian Fine Artists Assoc. – section for Expanded Art Media) and UKS (Serbian Writers Assoc.) and my projects (not me!) got some money from the Government of Serbia-Secretary for Culture….. But, it was enough only for travel-pay of our guests (Andrej Tišma, Nenad Bogdanovi, Jaroslav Supek…. mail-artists/networkers), for petrol (in my “FLYING-UP” project) very expensive 1993, for some poor documentation etc. Especially, “FLYING-UP” projects, realized at Museum of Modern Art, was original and special in that time, but…. 1994. I curated “ARTISTS’ FREE ZONES” projects at NUBS gallery and help next exhibitions by prof. Kun Nam Baik (Korea), Almeido M,E, Sousa and MANDRAGORA assoc. (Portugal), prof. Shozo Shimamoto, famous Japanese artist, John Held Jr. (USA) , AU group from Japan…. So, my international art-cooperation never stopped. Since 1991, I had some guests: Bob Kirkman, Angela + Peter Küstermann (Germany), Livia Cases (Italy) and John Held Jr. (USA). Those are all my guests in the past five years. Before war-time I have had more then 50 guests from Japan, USA, Holland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Hungary, Belgium, etc. My last trip out of Yugoslavia was in 1987 (Italy and Germany). I haven’t enough money for travel, nowadays visa for travelling out of YU is a problem too… but also I haven’t had calls from my friends as before the war-time. And art-cooperation with artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia…. stopped. Yes, we try to renew it (some nice signals are coming from Slovenia and Macedonia) and we have some cooperation with Serbian artists from Banja Luka (Bosnia/Republika Srpska).

So, on the whole, I’m living hard in abnormal situation and my art activity is REALLY the way/solution to stay myself/normal and as modus vivendi – to exist!

RJ : There is now also a new magazine called ARTEFACT, in which you do the mail-art section. What is the idea behind this new magazine?

Reply on : 25-4-1995

DK : Yes, but let me explain something about ARTEFACT. Firstly, I’m editor for Expanded Art Media (this is the title of my Section at Serbian Fine Artists Assoc.) and owners+directors are : Dragan Pavlov (sometimes networker and founder/owner of DEDALUS publishing/small-house), general-editor, Boris Vukovi (who comes from Australia), art director+designer, Pedja Krsmanovi, technical editor/computer etc. and some young people + editors.

ARTEFACT is NOT a typical m.a. zine. ARTEFACT is a magazine for different art/media: literature, film, theatre, music, design….. expanded media (installations, performances, video-art, visual poetry, etc.) including mail-art too. Also its an international art review on 56 pages, not so luxus, but, you can see, on very good paper and with good design. But in Beograd City and Yugoslavia, we have some very good art magazines, such as there are: “NEW MOMENT” , “ETERNA”, “FINE-ART LIFE” , GOLDEN EYE” , “PROJECT-A/r/T” , “BEORAMA”…. compared with ARTFORUM, FLASH ART, HIGH PERFORMANCE, ART in AMERICA etc.

Basic idea of ARTEFACT is to draw attention with real alter-art news and get to know art-people here with alternative artists all over the world (so this magazine is in English too). But also give a chance to artists who haven’t a chance for affirmation into the “big” and famous art-magazines or at exclusive artspaces….. We started with ARTEFACT in January 1995. We have three promotions at nice artspaces with exhibitions (you participated, dear Ruud, too), performances video-art…. and also we introduced the magazine on TV programs, in newspapers, on radio, etc. So, a good start, but we need money and support of artists and real art-lovers all over the world just now!
RJ : The cultural boycott against your country was lifted months ago. Can you already notice any changes? I know from Chuck Welch (Crackerjack Kid) that he is still unable to send you his new book “Eternal Network” from the USA to Yugoslavia just by mail. It was returned to him last month!

Reply on : 16-5-1995

(Together with his answer Dobrica sent his new issue of the ‘Open World magazine’ , number 84)

DK : Just fine question! I’ll be happy when this boycott really stops. At this moment it still exists. Yes, Andrej Tišma told me how Crackerjack Kid’s new book sent to him, me, etc. didn’t arrive but was returned to the USA. But I hope “Artefact’ magazine will travel lucky from Yugoslavia to the USA (to Crackerjack Kid)…. and I can tell you, dear Ruud, how I have had the worst experiences in international art-cooperation and art-communication after 1992. June, after the UN sanctions to YU: firstly many lies about my country and serbian people circulate since 1992. Through the m.a. network too. Than several times I didn’t receive art-materials (or just letters) from my friends/artists. PTT communication with Croatia stopped since 1992, there was a temporary stop with Canada and some other countries too. The booklet ‘OPEN WORLD’ by Steve Perkins (package with 50 issues) I never received it back from him.

But , listen… Bob Kirkman from Chico (USA) wrote me in 1992 how my exhibition there isn’t possible because no artspace would accept anything from Serbian artists and I’m cosmopolit firstly! Bob Kirkman was my guest in july 1991 and made a performance (together with me and miss Jasmina Tabak) at Happy Gallery – Students Cult. Centre in Beograd City + exhibition of small art-objects. That time I gave him art-material from me and he promised an exhibition in the USA….. John Held Jr. made a OPEN WORLD show at his MODERN REALISM gallery in 1993. You too at the TAM Gallery, and I’m really happy and thankful to both of you!

Listen, since 1992 I helped exhibitions by prof. Kun Nam Baik , Manuel Al meida E Sousa + MANDRAGORA group, prof. Shozo Shimamoto, AU group…. besides several group shows / international shows (my projects) at very nice artspaces. So, nothing changed with me and I protected international art-cooperation non-stop.

Mayumi Handa & Shozo Shimamoto helped with exhibition “Embargo Art from Serbia Island” at Tokyo’s METROPOLITAN MUSEUM. This was a show by magazine “CAGE” collaborators. FILIMIR made a 200 meters long canvas in Paris as an anti-embargo-art action (action-painting/street-art action)… Most part of YU Networkers (me too) made various anti-embargo art projects since 1992, but we have had very few invitations for coming out of YU and make art-actions live.
Oh, yes, some friends/artists help me with art-materials (from Spain, Japan, Holland, Italy, USA, Belgium,…..) but some stop with art-communication to me.

Besides that, many YU artists (especially alter-artists) left the country (Katalin Ladik, Marko Stepanov, Pedja Šidjanin, Jusuf Hadifejzovi, Darko Vuli, Zoran Beli, Dragan eravac, etc.) and now live in USA, Holland, Belgium, France, England, Hungary… but, believe it or not, we are doing since 1992 excellent art here and we are very active just in this hard wartime and blockade. It sounds as paradox, but probably it is because our feelings are so strong. And art-spirit!

RJ : What is essential for being a (mail-) artist?

Reply on: 3-6-1995

DK: The old Latin sentence “Ars longa-vita brevis” probably explains the need for art and the essential need to be an artist, to win life and all limits. To be a mail-artist is a question of cosmopolitan feelings, the need for art cooperation, better understanding between different people and cultures…..

But artists’ inner-life, spiritus movens for his activity its a hard question, probably a question for psychologists, art hystorics and sociologists. The fact is that artists see the life different than “normal” people and that they are able to make a fictive life, pictures of life, on special ways. So, what is essential for being an artist is not a simple question.

RJ : When I write to mail-artists in the former (large) Yugoslavia, I always have a problem with talking about the politics behind the war. I sometimes feel I am asked to choose sides, and in a way I think the real truth about the war is difficult to see for all sides (people confronted with the war because they live there, the UN, the people who just sit at home and watch the war on television). Could you help me with explaining what the war is about, and if an artist should get involved with politics? I know it is a difficult question.

Reply on : 20-6-1995

(In the months May and June the problems in Bosnia got larger. Airstrikes of the United Nations in Pale, UN-Hostages taken by the Bosnian Serbs throughout Bosnia. At the moment I receive this answer the last hostages have been released, but the fights around Sarajevo are intensified again because the Bosnian Army now attacks the Bosnian Serbs to break the corridor around Sarajevo).

DK : Yes, it is. But how you can understand all aspects of the war (if I couldn’t?) and essential problems of destruction former Yugoslavia? And who help this horror/bloody war?! First of all, Serbs would like YU unity (NOT ‘big’ SERBIA!) , but rest (Croats, Muslims, Slovenians, Albanians, Macedonians…) wouldn’t like it.
A lovely country destroyed after separation of Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia and we (Serbs and Montenegros) stay in new (small) YU unity. I still feel as Yugoslavian and cosmopolit although the fact that I am a Serb. I need former YU. I need friendship and understanding from ex-YU friends (now our relationships are broken and I am NOT guilty, nothing changed with me, with my feelings!)

Well, central problem, as I understood, is with Serbs out of Serbia. How save those Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia?…. Because most part of Muslims and Croats wouldn’t like Serbs as equal people there. And some Serbs and Croats who accept Alah, different religion from the Turkisch, understand? So, this war is an religion war, war for living spaces (teretories), civil war too. The fear was “Spiritus Movens” for this war.

I am out of actual politics and try to understand this incredible situation on my very special way. I’m a Serb, but also Slovenian, so… as artist I made a lot of things against the war, but also against YU blockade. My installations (named “signals from Balkan ghetto” , “YU blockade-circulus vitiosus” , “Artists’ free zone”….) , performances (“Stepping out from inside” , “Flying-up from Balkan ghetto” , “Get out the dark” , “Destructio unius-generatio alternius”…) , exhibits ( “INTERREALITIONSHIPS” , “FLYING-UP” , “OPNEN WORLD” , “ARTISTS’FREE ZONE” , “BACK THE SMILE ON FACES”….) are full of symbols which explain my feelings into war-situation and YU blockade/embargo. Maybe, you’ll see in the future some of them on video!?

In this fuckin’ war some networkers died/were killed (Keer II/Satan Panonski , Dragan Krii) , some spent some time as YU soldiers (Nenad Boganovi , Aleksandar Jovanovi , Šandor Gogoljak) or Croatian and Bosnian soldiers… I haven’t had news from many friends since 1991. Some left former YU…. So, many things, many bad things happened and we are still frustrated and unhappy. Most part of the YU networkers made excellent performances , shows , installations etc. just during the wartime and its paradox!

But this question is for Darko Vuli, from Sarajevo who lives now in France, or for Ratko Radanovi , from Banja Luka , who is Serbian soldier there in Bosnia.

ps. I prepare a new book “OPEN WORLD CONTEMPORARY-ART STORY” and in this book I will explain many aspects (of art-actions) into wartime….

RJ : A new thing in networking is the use of internet , and the sending of E-mail. In Yugoslavia , during the war-time , not many artists will be able to use this new medium. But, have you thought about the electronic communications? Will the electronic mail-art become more important than the normal mail-art?
Reply on 28-7-1995

(Dobrica’s answer came via Sweden with the help of a friend. By separate mail I also received Dobrica’s latest issue of Open World #85 , with lots of information about meetings and contacts)

DK: Yes, it seems so… But it is nothing fascinating, this is only the question of technology. I’m afraid it could be the future of m.a. communication and I’m an outsider in that case. No, I haven’t computer, fax-machine etc. So, some people from my Section of Expanded Media (Mihailo Risti, prof. dr. Marija Preši) help me sometime with this kind of communication of I use the fax-machine from NOLIT publishing house where I am working.

The same situation is with the rest of the YU mail-artists…. But, 1992, in my project “OPEN WORLD” (international exhibition) I asked networkers to send me fax-messages…. very interesting was the fax-message from Dragan Krii (he died/was killed 1992, latter…) who sent it from Sarajevo, full of political jokes, but also some nazi-symbols etc. about three meters long!

Listen, most important is human-communication and full contacts=meetings! Electronic communication is probably most important for business people and in science or financial/commercial communication….

RJ: In the last years lots of publications have appeared in connection to mail-art. Also you yourself have written a book about it. Are these publications important for the network? Do they always give a good view about what the network is all about?

Reply on 13-8-1995

(Between the receiving of the answer and the sending of the next question the war started again in Croatia. This time the Croatian army attacked the Kraijina-area, the part of Croatia that was occupied by Bosnian Serbs. But which part of land belongs to whom is difficult to say in this former Yugoslavia……)

DK : Yes, I think so… those books are really important (“Correspondence art” by Mike Crane, “Eternal Network” by Crackerjack Kid, etc.) My first book “Art as communication”, in any case, didn’t give the best view what the network is all about, but it gives some special answers about various art poetics (and how communication exists in inter + multimedia), but also open question of NEW AGE and future arts. My new book “OPEN WORLD, OPEN MIND – NEW ART STORY” should be a book with complete answers made by artists (Dr. Klaus Groh, Katalin Ladik, Miroljub Todorovi , Scott Mc Leod, Ruggero Maggi, Dr. Ken Friedman, Ilija Šoški etc.) themselves about their art-poetics and activities (Orbit Art, Performance Art, Signaliosm, Amazonic World, Fluxus, Dance Macabre Actions etc.) given through interviews. Also I’d like to explain what’s happened with the network in the last years, besides rest, with describing the special situation of the YU blockade under UN sanctions and restricted art area (RAA)…

Many periodical publications are important too, your m.a. statements are very important, many rest publications who circulate through the network non-stop….. are “bloody-canals” of the NETWORK and heart (essence) is full communication, personal contacts.

My new book should be all ready at the end of 1995 (the price will be 20 US$ of 30 DM) and published by publishing house “DEDALUS” from Beograd with very fresh stories and illustrations…. You, John Held Jr. Angela+ Peter Küsterman, people from my Section for Expanded Art Media and some rest artists are very important people in my new book!

RJ : Well, I will be looking forward seeing your book, but when it is in Yugoslavian language (like your last book) only few networkers will be able to read the texts you write. Is there any chance you will be publishing some english articles too?

Reply on 25-8-1995

DK : Yes, I’ll be glad to see the book till the end of 1995. Always there is a problem with money, especially here during the UN embargo, extremely hard economical situation, abnormal conditions…. So, my first book was in Serbian (we haven’t a YU language!) language and I’m sorry, I haven’t enough money to pay a translator…. and it was also a question of speed (don’t forget, January 1994, we had an inflation of 350,000,000% !… We’ve been absolutely champion of hyperinflation and prices changed two times during the day!)… But, now I haven’t problem with translation, most part of texts are now in English language and some were published (in English) in magazines like ND , Cage , Artefact, Clinch and Transfusion…

RJ : Especially because of these difficult times I would like to thank you very much for this interview. Good luck with your book!

Address mail-artist:

Dobrica Kamperelic
Ustanicka 152 / VII
11000 – BEOGRAD

Braincell #916 arrived from Japan

2015-06-13 12.04.18

Ryosuke Cohen is doing the Braincell project since 1985. After 30 years he reached this number 916 already and every 10 days he produces a new one. On the IUOMA platform on Ning we trace all the issues and try to get a more complete view of the project. Have a look at:


Because a large part of the network follows the group we know instantly when a new BrainCell has come out and who particpated on it.  Somehow everybody hopes to see number 1000 one of these days.