THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH JENNY DE GROOT
Started on: 31-3-1995
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: 5-4-1995
JdG: The first time I came across mail art was in 1983, when I was
studying photography and design at AKI (Academy for Arts and
Industry). One of my teachers was Bart Boumans, who at the time was
very active in the mail art circuit. He gave me a list of addresses in
Japan: I was doing some ‘research’ on Japanese calligraphy, and I
needed the addresses for information. Among those who replied were
people like Shozo Shimamoto and Ryosuke Cohen and voila: there it all
RJ : What do you remember about the first contacts with mail artists?
Reply on : 12-4-1995
JdG: Do you mean contacts through the mail or in person? Anyway, on
Bart Boumans’ address-list was also Byron Black, who was then living in
Bangkok, Thailand. He wrote to tell me he was not preoccupied with
calligraphy at all so he could not provide me with information on that
subject, but he would like to exchange mail just the same. The first
audio-cassette came from him, and in 1984 he sent me a video tape that
I still show anyone who wants to see it. Until today I never met him in
person, although I would love to.
The first mail artists I DID meet in person was Barry Edgar Pilcher….
who responded to my first-project-ever. In 1987 my daughter Esther and
I went to see him and his family in their beautiful green valley in Wales.
This meeting was an experience I will remember and cherish for the rest
of my life.
RJ : Well, I meant the contacts through mail, but it is interesting that
you start talking about meeting mail-artists in person. How important is
meeting compared to writing to a mail artist?
Reply on : 28-4-1995
JdG: I am not sure if it is really important, but I think it is at least very
exciting to meet a mail artist in person, it always turns out to be a quite
different event than you expected it to be. Before you meet someone in
person you have a certain idea of that man or woman: you only know
him or her through the mail: from letters, photographs, sometimes you
know a voice from audio tapes. After a ‘close encounter of the personal
kind’ you find the image you have of that person is totally different
from ‘the real thing’, and the mail you exchange with that person
usually changes: it might get more personal, or it might even stop (after
I met Pat Fish in april 1993 – or was it 1992 – I never heard from her
RJ : Again you mention the audio tape. Because we already exchanged
lots of audio-cassettes I know that you like this medium. What is so
special about the audio tape that makes you use it?
Reply on : 2-5-1995
JdG: Audio-tapes can bring an extra dimension into the act of
exchanging mail. To hear someone’s voice on tape is one thing, but it is
also very good to hear all the different sound collages that people
make, sounds from the place they live in, pieces of radio-programs,
poetry, music: Barry Pilcher is a musician, and since we first started to
exchange tapes he has sent me lots of exciting examples of his own work
and the work of musicians he admires.
During the performance I did with Jos