Focus is a series of thematic entries to the archive and Mail Art, unfolding characteristic themes and features of the Network: VEC Audio Exchange, Polish files in the Lomholt Mail Art Archive, feMail Art, Mail Art publications, links to other Mail Art circles, and texts on Mail Art 1970-1985.
VEC audio exchange project 1978-1983 contains the entire collection of sound pieces collected by Rod Summers and PR material circulated in the Mail Art Network. The project is introduced through an interview conducted by Thomas Bey William Bailey (Spring 2009).
An invitation to Lomholt from Gdansk 1975 opened up to a surprising meeting with a very active and well-informed art cell, in a hidden and closed country, yet very close to the home country. Lomholt had visited Poland several times, and contact was established with a number of art people, such as Grzegorz Dziamski, Andrzej Partum, Ewa Partum, Anna Kutera, Jan Swidzinski, Stanislav Urbanski, Endre Tot (Hungary), Pawel Petasz, Albrecht Dürer, Piotr Rypson among others. Introduction by Grzegorz Dziamski.
Looking at the Mail Art activities during the period of 1970-1985, a majority male artists presents themselves, however, a large number of female artists had a marked influence also and contributed extensively to the Network. Under the heading "feMail Art", Lene Aagaard Denhart introduces eight of the female artists represented in Lomholt Mail Art Archive, such as: Afzet (Holland), Anna Banana (Canada), Betty Danon (Italy), Dorothy Iannone (West Germany), Anna Kutera (Poland), Graciela Gutierrez Marx (Argentina), Ewa Partum (Poland), and Marilyn R. Rosenberg (USA).
The Mail Art was a relative homogeneous network, but various archives and collections had different centres, participants and priorities (concrete poetry or selected artists). The object of this FOCUS section is to present the different archives and collections, look at their origin, ways of accumulation (Mail Art archives or collectors), home (museum, university or collections etc.) and how these homes are managed. Introduction by John Held jr.
The Public Face of Mail Art. The main activity of Mail Art was the personal contact, mail circulated in the closed circle of the network. The public face of Mail Art was a large number of exhibitions, catalogues, books and magazines. These exhibitions and events were almost always carried out by individuals for very little private money. The mantra in this moneyless network was: “no fee, no jury, no return, everything shown, a catalogue to all participants”. This practice resulted in a vast number of publications of varied qualities from high gloss to two stapled photocopies. Introduction by Chuck Welch.
Texts from the Archive and other selected texts: What is Mail Art and how does it work. Participants in the Mail Art Network came from a wide range of cultural activities. The majority were visual artists, but other cultural workers were represented, and quite often participants had a varied education and practice, such as being writers, musicians, academics of all kinds, journalists and critics. To many participants writing were a side profession, and a great number of various types of texts were circulating the Mail Art network. Introduction by Vittore Baroni.