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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Mail Art Call
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08/26/2004 11:57:43 AM · #1
I'd like to invite any intrepid photographers out there who are up for it to participate in my upcoming mail art show on the theme Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It's a Mexican celebration that resonates for me on many levels and I do something every year in honor of the holiday. This year, I'm doing a mail art call on the theme and I'm spreading the word everywhere I participate online.

No jury, no returns, documentation to all.

Deadline: October 15th, 2004

Send your 2D or 3D art that can go through the mail, any media, to:

Carla Cryptic
PO Box 1274
Berkeley, CA 94701

For more information on mail art, links to Day of the Dead information sites, and more details of this call, please go to the following URL:

//socrates.berkeley.edu/~cjatkins/cryptic/muertos.html

08/26/2004 01:49:40 PM · #2
I went last year to the Hollywood Forever cemetery for the celebration in LA. it was excellent. This year, I am going with my 20d if it's in on time!
08/26/2004 03:43:58 PM · #3
For those of us who don't get "mail art" even after looking it up can you expand?
08/26/2004 05:33:03 PM · #4
I was wondering the same thing!
08/29/2004 04:08:42 PM · #5
Sounds great, Arielle. Just the kind of thing I'm hoping for. :) I love cemeteries anyway and take photos in them whenever I have the chance. I've seen a documentary on Hollywood Forever and it seems like it would be a wonderful place to take pictures. Even if you don't make the October 15th deadline (which is primarily so that I can get the print docs out by Nov 15th), send something and you'll get into any online docs I create.

TechnoShroom and Taunya: Sure, but could you ask some specific questions? I don't know what still isn't clear. :)


08/29/2004 04:34:49 PM · #6
Mail-Art can be decribed here.
09/02/2004 03:49:34 PM · #7
Thanks Dustin! A another good mail art site I hadn't seen before. :)

Since no one is asking specific questions, I guess it's best to just post links to other mail art sites and descriptions. Here is another one:

//www.actlab.utexas.edu/emma/faq/faq2.html (Electronic Museum of Mail Art's What is Mail Art? page)


09/02/2004 04:55:26 PM · #8
It seems as though to be "Mail Art" it just has to be a physical piece of art (like a photographic print) sent through the mail, as opposed to computer code for some pixels sent over the internet.

I just can't figure out if you prefer a clean print in an envelope or one disfigured by the mailing system by being sent as a postcard.

I have at least one photo taken while driving past a cemetery on my vacation ...
09/02/2004 06:20:43 PM · #9
Originally posted by dustin03:

Mail-Art can be decribed here.


Yes, I visited the site as part of looking it up.

Originally posted by carlacryptic:

Sounds great, Arielle. Just the kind of thing I'm hoping for. :) I love cemeteries anyway and take photos in them whenever I have the chance. I've seen a documentary on Hollywood Forever and it seems like it would be a wonderful place to take pictures. Even if you don't make the October 15th deadline (which is primarily so that I can get the print docs out by Nov 15th), send something and you'll get into any online docs I create.

TechnoShroom and Taunya: Sure, but could you ask some specific questions? I don't know what still isn't clear. :)


Well, I guess what I don't get is what happens after the art is sent in. What it sounds like is it doesn't get shown anywhere, you just create a brochure and send that brochure out? If that's the case it just sounds strange. What happens to the art that was sent to you after you create the brochure?
09/09/2004 02:04:18 AM · #10
GeneralE: Okay, now you're talking! I get what you're wondering about now. The truth is, most mail artists like to have the postmarks and other damage done to the art on its journey through the mail systems involved. In my case, it's not an obsession but one thing to consider would be sending a pristine print inside of a CLEAR envelope... one of the things that mail art is about is sharing the art with as many people as possible (as opposed to what happens in the traditional gallery and money centered art world - a world I am actually part of but don't feel should be the only way people access art - too elitist for my taste). Believe it or not, the postal workers who see the art usually get a real kick out of it and mail artists often have a following at their local post offices.

One of the reasons I got into mail art in the first place was to make it a bit more egalitarian than what I grew up around (my mom is a professional artist and I saw the art world and all its politics and economics from close at hand from an early age and I didn't like it much). I also grew up in a Quaker Intentional Community so I suppose I'm a bit non-conformist in terms of what the American Dream means, too. Collaborative, accessible, non-competitive art is probably what I enjoy most in life - I've met hundreds of artists from around the world (literally - about 75 countries) through mail art and I've seen art that I never would have had the chance to see that way.

One of my older professional artist friends (also 75, like my mom) likes mail art because it's a world in which it doesn't matter who you are or who you know, it only matters if you participate. She feels it gets her creative juices going and keeps her from getting into ruts because her professional work has to be distinctively her 'style' (what galleries and critics have praised in her work) not necessarily new directions she feels like exploring and/or all the work that she feels like doing that isn't 'commercial'.

So, you can send things in an envelope or without the envelope - in my mail art shows, it's pretty open-ended. I want to see what people do on a theme and I love variety. The endless ways in which a theme can be interpreted are what float my boat artistically. I usually accept pixels, too, it's just that I prefer things come through the mail because they are more tangible that way.

TechnoShroom: Another good question. All mail art shows that I've ever been in are 'no jury, no returns, docs to all'. That's pretty much the bare minimum in terms of requirements for calling it mail art. Most mail art calls are for real - it's a cool network of artists, writers, and philosophers really, people who put a lot into challenging and celebrating each other. But, there are some calls which are bogus and sometimes life gets in the way and normally responsive mail artists take years to get to the docs.

I am known for my documentation and that's one of the draws for artists who know my work and/or have collaborated with me before - the docs will be interesting, at the very least, and usually well worth participating in their own right. One of the things that I love about hosting a call is doing the documentation and I usually do an online version and a mailed out version. I'm thinking about something totally new for this show - but I'm not telling what it is until it's a reality. I might change my mind a dozen times before I send it out and/or put it online. That's part of the creative process which gets triggered when one hosts a show.

Because of my internet orientation, I have one (used to have several but they took up too much bandwith) of the best documented mail art shows online. My husband and I are both computer geeks as well as artists and we have done some very comprehensive documentation of the shows I've hosted (all but one). You can see an example at: //www.btinternet.com/~g.a.patterson/mailart/index.htm where my husband is hosting the mail art show we did when we got married (The Euphemisms for Marriage show). The only time it was up for people to see in person was at our wedding reception - after that, it's been online 24/7 (since June 0f 1999). It's a good place to see what kind of things people do for a mail art show - some do things that are directly connected to the theme and some do things which have nothing to do with the theme. It's that open-ended.

You can also see examples of my documentation of swaps (a different but allied kind of collaborative art) at Nervousness.org (just search on my pseudonym, Carla Cryptic, and then follow the links to one or more of the LMAOs (land mail art objects) I've hosted there.

Last but not least, if you Google Carla Cryptic, you'll find work I've done in various places around the net in connection with mail art, artistamps, artist trading cards, poetry, and so on.

The person or group that initiates the mail art call keeps the work that people send in for the show. In my case, I have it all in displayable form since I sometimes am asked to show examples or whole shows at libraries (I used to work in Women's Studies at UC Berkeley and held two international mail art shows in connection with the department - What Do Women Want? and Women at the Millennium - and I'll probably donate them to the Women's Building in SF eventually).

What goes around comes around - it's a form of altruism and communication, both. I've received mail art from people around the world, often unsolicited, and that's because I send art to people I've never met with an open heart. You just wouldn't believe the good karma that engenders. It's not all roses and no thorns, of course. I've been burned, too. I look at mail art as a community activity and that means there are inevitably ups and downs - they keep me honest in my work, they keep me trying new things and meeting new people, and they are an endless source of satisfaction and amazement to boot.

(I really am longwinded! Come from a very verbal family. :)

Carla
09/27/2004 07:32:29 PM · #11
The Day of the Dead pieces are trickling in - there will be a deluge the week of the deadline and for about a week afterwards, if past experience is any guide. :) I am loving the work people are sending in. Some is straight up art for art's sake, some is seriously and magnificently political, and some is meaningfully personal (I, and some others, feel that it's a good way to commemorate the passing of someone we loved). It's still not too late to participate - the deadline is to have your work postmarked by October 15th.
09/27/2004 07:55:44 PM · #12
No matter how many times I re-read the posts and go to the websites I just don't understand what mail art is.
10/01/2004 04:14:16 PM · #13
Well, what is it you don't understand...? People send each other art through the snail mail systems of the world. They either do in response to a mail art call with or without a deadline on a given theme, or send unsolicited pieces to people they know are into mail art. The way you know if someone is into mail art is by seeing their name and address in the documentation of a mail art show you've also participated in or on a list of mail artists online. There is no money exchanged, there is no judging of the work, all work is accepted, there is no censorship, there are no returns unless specified otherwise. The person or group or institution (like a school or library) you send the artwork to, keeps it and, when they're able, they show it either in the paper documentation (like a catalog), online (in a mail art gallery), or in person for a limited or unlimited time. You meet a lot of artists from around the world, you see a lot of art you wouldn't otherwise see, and you often get unsolicited artwork in the mail on days you are feeling the world is crap and/or that life is meaningless and it cheers you up. Does that help? :)
10/29/2004 07:24:39 PM · #14
The show is almost complete - I've received about 100 pieces so far from about 75 artists. The styles and content are as varied as I'd hoped they'd be and most people really took the challenge to heart. There are only 3 pieces that don't have anything to do with the theme (sometimes, in mail art, as many as 50% of the pieces could have nothing to do with the theme of the show). It ranges the gamut of artistic expression - social, political, art for art's sake, personal, global. About 10 countries are represented. I consider it a very successful show. When the online galleries are up and running, I'll post a link here in this topic so those of you who were having trouble figuring out what mail art is and why people do it can take a look at what other people came up with.
11/09/2004 02:51:42 PM · #15
I am very pleased to announce that the 2004 Dia de los Muertos Mail Art Gallery is now accessible online - come visit and have a look at all the artwork people sent in from around the world at:

//webdisk.berkeley.edu/~carlajp/dod/introduction.html

Message edited by author 2004-11-09 14:52:03.
09/15/2008 11:30:58 AM · #16
Please note that the Day of the Dead Mail Art Gallery is no longer at the webdisk address. Webdisk at Berkeley got closed
down due to budget cuts. The current DOD Mail Art site which I have online is at //www.carlacryptic.com on the following
page:

2005 Dia de los Muertos Mail Art Gallery

I hope to get the other DOD galleries back online by this year's Day of the Dead (End of Oct/beginning of Nov). :)

Message edited by author 2008-09-15 11:32:21.
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