MinXus mail from Ms. Claire Dinsmore (aka Cleo) (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA): Fluxkit & Bagism

Contents of one bag from among about a half dozen in Flux Kit sent by Claire Dinsmore, including piece of flattened copper.

I have already noted a recent trend in mail-art that involves sending scraps and unaltered, found material in lieu of  making it into conventional art. This might be connected to an increased awareness of recycling and yet another variation on add-and pass. But for seasoned veterans, it also has an uncanny resemblance to those inexplicable Fluxus objects (often bagged) that circulated long ago.

Claire Dinsmore confirmed my observation with a sensational package of bags stuffed with an amazing variety of content ranging from Trashpo to highly aesthetic materials rich in color, texture and suggesting haptic interaction. Claire is an accomplished, indeed professional, artist; however, I do not believe she intended to make a Fluxkit or reference Bagism. Yet in the context of mail-art, I believe that is exactly what she has done: A gathering of many different materials that invite the participant to actively interact with them.

Selected material from Flux Kit by Claire Dinsmore.

I had enough questions about the piece that I engaged Claire in a dialog at the Yoma, which is reproduced here:


DVS : Claire, I am very perplexed about some things. Don’t get me wrong. I REALLY like your work. But what is up with the retro thing?

DK picks up trash in the streets of Elgin & that’s what it looks like when you receive it. But you do this “Back to the Future” thing. It looks like Trashpo Charles Dickens would send, if Charles Dickens did Trashpo. It’s, maybe the dissociative is good. I don’t know. Now I know what a Flux Kit by Charles Dickens would look like.

Value is a slippery subject anyway, but what is the value in receiving a Flux Kit from Charles Dickens? Not in terms of monetary value, but in terms of a Victorian Flux Kit. Maybe it’s a good idea. I don’t know. Now I can imagine what DaDa would look life if it were made by people before DaDa was invented. Know what I mean?”

Claire Dinsmore: Retro?” hmm, “retro” signifies kitsch 50s/60s to me generally. but i suppose it can mean anything old. trash can often be old stuff, so not sure why that wld be odd…? when my trash is “retro,” its 80s-90s or new. the streets are absurdly clean here. the trash in the folios is usually packaging headed for the recycle or trash bin that i keep, or scraps from my work. I’ve been making books for over 30 years, and I can’t bear to throw any of the scrap away, no matter how tiny. I have boxes full of scraps. a lot of the papers are handmade, most Japanese, so unless Dickens collected Japanese paper… Must say, I think a Dickens/Victorian flux-kit sounds pretty damned cool though! An interesting thought I just had/realized – papermaking in Japan is an exceedingly old tradition, so I imagine some of those papers can have creative roots that go back 100s of years…?

DVS: Then I am curious. What is the intent? I am supposed to make something from all the material? My reaction is whatever reaction I have and has little to do with your intent. But I am puzzling over the intent any way. It’s interesting. I will have to confront it and make some sort of meaning from it. Have you noticed? People are mailing art less and just sending material. Why is this happening?

Claire Disnmore: There is no intent. It’s a composition/construction, as it were. “Art for Art’s sake,” as they say… Or, it’s a kit (DK said it was like a trashpo toolbelt – lol!). You can use the stuff in the pockets if you want, or not…. It’s yours now, and up to you…. In this case at least, I would say the material is part of the piece – but isn’t it always anyway? “The media(/um ) is the message” mr mcLuhan – always indicative of choice, and (with)in that choice… (That’s how I construct my often over-the-top packages – everything is a significant element that contributes its voice, as it were, to the experience of the whole. That’s what art is to me: experience. If one can communicate that in the piece, the flavour/tone of the creative energy/impulse at work, then I feel the piece really “works.” The Experiential element, man!) When people send stuff/things, that entails choice, and thus, the creative. Ready-made/found-object fever? Cornell fever? I’ve noted that folks who dig collage are often object freaks too…the flea-market within! A nostalgic turn of mind…? Have to admit, I did not expect you (of all people – lol!) to distinguish it (apart) from “art!”

DVS: That explains a great deal, and thanks for the great mail-art, Claire.

And don’t forget to visit Planet Claire:



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. skybridge
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 09:34:55

    …I like that comment about the “flea market within.”
    Art that is about The Hunt, trail reading, signs, and now Trashpo Chic: where soothsayers used to read the turtle shell, now it is a collection of found and collected items, unnecessary to even assemble before interpretation.
    Relaxed interpretation as an inclusive process.
    Personal, meaningful and very revealing.


  2. minkrancher
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 09:54:38

    Yes, the Claire-if-ication helps.

    You know, one strain of Skybridge art is like this, to some extent.


  3. skybridge
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 10:07:05

    Yes… and true of so many artists on IUOMA


  4. minxususa
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 12:15:56

    Skybridge, it has taken a full day for me to absorb and fully appreciate the insight of your first comment.

    In the last few days, there was an interesting discussion at Yo Ma (yet again) about the spiritual aspects of Trashpo, the possible meaning of collecting & using found material beyond the mechanical process of randomness constructs commonplace in the avant.

    The D-Vinity of the DKulters, the prophetic qualities of work by Jesus Jim.

    Interesting turn of events.

    And Stripy Goose enjoys nude tea with Prince Hairy. Durn, isn’t the MinXus Message that we could damn well use a good Monarchy to straighten this mess out?

    The Empress has no foes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: