MinXus Mail Bag: “Cloud Monkey” zine from Taidgh Lynch (Killarney, Ireland)

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Mail-art by Taidgh Lynch (Killarney, Ireland)

A relative newcomer to the Eternal Network, a growing body of friends and fans can quickly identify the work of Mr. Taidgh Lynch by his colourful, associative drawings. We are proud to display a particularly gorgeous example (above) he made especially for MinXus and the Mink Ranch, inscribed on the envelope to Mink Rancher. A new, indisputable MinXus treasure. We offer our deepest thanks!

MinXus-Lynxus also admires Taidgh Lynch for his poetry and his ventures in the artist’s book genre. His envelope, brimming with all sorts of fascinating material, contained a wonderful treat for us. Not a book, but the first edition (#1) of his zine Cloud Monkey. Taidgh could not possibly have known that some of us at MinXus-Lynxus were very active in the network during the Age of Zines. Some of our dear friends, partners along the dusty trail, whose work you will find in these meandering threads, also got their start in the zines.

Thus, we are eager to share with you excerpts from Taidgh Lynch’s Cloud Monkey:

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In the 1980s and 90s, before mail-art and the internet became the intermedia medium of the network we know today, there was an explosion of small circulation magazines (the discussion is based primarily on the USA phenom). Increasingly, the old zines are becoming collectible and are finding their way into rare book collections. Whole runs are coming online, such as John M. Bennett’s Lost and Found Times and  Mike Miskowski’s MaLLife. We are waiting for other classics such as Laine’s Lime Green Bulldozer, Emotional Vomit, Nightmares of Reason, and oh so many others.

For the first time, photocopy technology made it possible for anyone to become a publisher. The internet, of course, has expanded those opportunities even further. Yet somehow the desire to have a hard copy endures. Indeed, there has been renewed network interest in zines during the past year (even though blogs essentially have replaced the zine and serve the same function far more easily and even less expensively). The success of Cheryl Penn’s zines (South Africa) are a shining example.

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Excerpt from Taidgh Lynch’s Cloud Monkey.

Zine makers tended to be disaffected teenagers, college students and generally “slackers” and “marginals” who had opted out or been rejected by society. (If Yoma is any indication, the age of the average mail-artist today seems to be approx. 72.5 years; that, dear Tenderfoots, is a cause for concern – if you consider the average zine maker was 15.5). But we don’t think Yoma is a representative sample. And that is the problem with Yoma. It does not provide an accurate reflection of what is happening in the larger network.) In the end, mail-artists are quintessential outsiders, the least likely people on the planet to be “joiners” of anything that suggests a social or cultural hierarchy,

The prototype for the zines was definitely the music fanzine, but a strange thing happened. Somehow many zines connected with the mail-art network. Mail-art provided needed content as well as a vast distribution network, beyond the usual small circle of friends. Experimental poetry and visual poetry began to appear in the zines, via the international mail-art network. The fringe, conceptual art, eccentric alternative culture of Ray Johnson’s mail-art that had emanated from New York City suddenly was being dispersed to the suburbs, not through television or popular music but through the mailbox.

Many, many new players emerged with only vague affiliations to the New York Correspondance School. Likely, recipients found in it a kind of authenticity lacking in the homogenized mainstream. For instance there was a rampant outbreak of plagiarism in the zines because a mysterious cabal called Neoism sent messages saying it was a worthwhile and fun thing to do. The Slackers complied, most unaware that they were now agents of an assault on culture engineered by a movement that was a bizarre synthesis of pomo and Fluxus originating in Portland, Oregon and Montreal, Canada.  And the fake identities and add-and-pass missives added to the fascination as well as (we must admit) a certain creepiness. Where did it come from? Some of it seemed to be a place other than Earth.

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Taidgh Lynch’s Cloud Monkey shows remarkable similarities to the original zines. It doubtless arises from the same impulses and inspirations. On the pages above, we especially like the way he moves out of his more recognizable pattern to present a minimalist piece.

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Cloud Monkey offers a wonderful flow of text and image. As these pages indicate especially, comics are a staple and also represent a prototype for the zines. Taidgh Lynch integrates the comic form well into his work, and do we even need to note the tremendous popularity of graphic novels?

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Here at the Mink Ranch, we particularly enjoy the right-hand page (9) with the play of eyes. Some might pause because the drawings seem primitive. Many mail-artists strive to mimic the aesthetics and slick presentation of the mainstream, oblivious to the fact that mail-art is an alternative to the mainstream. Many of the Old Masters frequently advise new mail-artists: “If you have any interest in becoming a mainstream artist, being a mail-artist will work against you.” That is honest advice. The primitive quality of the work in so many of the zines reflects mail-art’s “Art is for Everyone” values. Then and now, we find people without the faintest training or ability by any conventional measure in visual art, writing, philosophy or performance expressing themselves freely and openly, alongside people of vastly different skills and backgrounds. Is that not part of the magic and allure?

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Back cover: Taidgh Lynch’s Cloud Monkey.

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Taidgh Lynch has an ad free blog. Make sure to visit!



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. taidgh
    Mar 16, 2013 @ 13:31:08

    Great stuff! Thanks for blogging and reviewing. I posted a link to the review and to your site on my blog.If Cloud Monkey Two ever sees the light of day you’ll surely get a copy. Happy St.Patrick’s Day!


  2. minkrancher
    Mar 16, 2013 @ 13:53:51

    And happy St. Pat’s Day to you Taidgh!

    Cloud Monkey is fantastic & we look forward to more issues, or whatever work arises from your creative spirit.


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