TIA 2005: Art from Ephemera (Mail Art and the Internet)
Text and Image Arts
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Fall 2007 - Spring 2009

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

when mail art, Fluxus, and media art converge in NY

Last Monday's class concluded round two of SMFA's TIA class, AFE. I had a great time this semester with a truly fantastic group of students and plan to spend the summer applying everything I learned from them to my syllabus and plans for Fall 2008 and beyond. In the meantime, Spring 2008 students will remain contributors to this blog until mid-August or so, when I'll make room for the Fall group. Students, feel free to blog if you find something of interest to the rest of the group (and any random readers we might have out there) or updates to your projects, work, etc.

On that note, this past weekend I made it to New York to see two shows directly related to our class. First stop was Mapping Correspondence: Mail Art in the 21st Century, at The Center for Book Arts. I like how their gallery space is right in the middle of what appears to be a working letterpress shop. Not surprisingly, this being a space dedicated to book arts, there were lots of book-like objects on display. More interesting to me, however, especially in light of our recent exhibition in SMFA's BAG Gallery, were their various strategies to document and display materials not originally intended for the gallery. I particularly liked the plastic frames that stuck out from the wall, allowing visitors to view both the front and back of the mail art on display, mostly postcards in this particular area.

Similar to this strategy were these hanging plexiglas displays that you could walk around to view, again, both the fronts and backs of the materials on display.

This area resembled the more tangible part of Genevieve's project, including postcards cut from recycled boxes that you could purchase for a quarter each.

Several projects and works on display were interactive in some way, like this area of rubber stamps and scraps of paper.

The show is on display through June 28th, so I definitely recommend it if you plan to be in NY between now and then and have an interest in this stuff beyond this class! Also, while I was there perusing their table of information at the entrance to the space, I picked up a postcard for an open call for a mail art exhibition, which will be displayed in both a gallery (in Canada) and blog format. Their blog has photos of the CBA show as well as some nifty examples of mail art. Check out these little mailboxes! Snappy, indeed. The deadline for submitting work is September 4th, so you have all summer to perhaps put the final touches on your projects from this semester!

After that I walked to Chelsea to check out the exhibition at Maya Stendhal Gallery, From Fluxus to Media Art. For such a broad topic it was a pretty sparse show, including work by just eight artists/groups, among them Fluxus and some artists also known in the mail art world including George Maciunas and Nam June Paik. The handout claims that the exhibition attempts to provide visitors with a broad history of media art, tracing some of its characteristics to the practices of artists in the 1960s. But the exhibition mostly failed at that connection, for me at least. About half of the show was film and video work, but I was annoyed that Andy Warhol's film Empire from 1964 was shown as an obvious video transfer on a flat screen television. That seems to be a more and more common gallery and museum practice, displayed as if film to video were that seamless of a transition, with little thought given to the different characteristics of the two media.

I'll be back later this summer with an updated syllabus for a brand new semester! Happy summer to you all!


Christine A. Tarantino said...

I invite you to visit Words of Light MAIL ART, www.ChristineTarantino.blogspot.com


IUOMA said...

Wonderfull photos of a wonderfull show!

Ruud Janssen