MinXus Mail Bag: Karen Eliot stamps by Borderline Grafix (Austin, Texas, USA)

“Neoism is more interesting today than when it was happening.”

– Mark Bloch

We received from correspondent Borderline Grafix an amazing 16-page booklet (or perhaps zine) filled with unique Karen Eliot stamps: a treasure beyond comparison to me. The work came encased in plastic:

We were thrilled to see the official, authorized MinXus-Borderline stamp! Of course, that was only the beginning.

Tenderfoots might fairly ask: “Who is Karen Eliot?” Karen Eliot is a multiple user identity that was very popular in the mail-art network during the (later) heyday of Neoism in the 90s. She remains popular long after Neoism’s decline.

First, there was Monty Cantsin, the open pop star identity, and then came Karen Eliot. (Monty Cantsin is usually traced to mail-artists David Zack, Blaster Al and Istvan Kantor.) Karen Eliot was created in an attempt to compensate for a noticeable lack of women in Neoism. She has evolved as a more bookish, literary character when compared to the flamboyant Monty Cantsin.

The book by Borderline Grafix, a page view above, is a sequence of these specially designed stamps, absolutely extraordinary. Numerous mail-artists have assumed the Karen Eliot identity over the years for various purposes. Her popularity has never really died. For instance, there are a number of Karen Eliots active on Facebook today; and Karen Eliot mail-art was circulating last year. You can find a very large Karen Eliot photo pool on Flickr. Borderline Grafix has added a face to his particular take on the phenom.

While anyone can adopt the Karen Eliot identity, she is often associated with and was probably created by British author and artist Stewart Home, a former Neoist.


Above – a detail scan of Karen Eliot stamps by Borderline Grafix.


Some mail-artists who were originally involved in Neo are still active today, but their work has evolved beyond the movement. Others identify themselves with Post-Neo. For example, visual poet Jim Leftwich considers some of his work Post-Neo Absurdism.

Another spectacular detail scan!

We especially like this spread from BG’s booklet.


Mail-art is always a wonderful gift. This Karen Eliot book is a fine gift indeed, which we shall make sure to archive carefully as it is also a piece of the long and circuitous evolution of Neoism. Deepest thanks, Borderline Grafix!


MinXus-Lynxus publishes “The Complete Ourang-Outang”


MinXus Mail Bag: Asemic cut-up by Claudia McGill (Wyncote, Pennsylvania, USA)


Mail-art by Claudia McGill (Wyncote, Pennsylvania, USA)

Dear friend and ever-faithful correspondent Claudia McGill sent us this brilliant piece that favors our own interest in asemic writing that is composed, at least in part, on a randomness principle.

As we hope the scan reveals, Claudia composed this postcard-size work by overlaying strips of (mostly) cursive writing in a relatively linear pattern upon a foundation of more cursive writing. We note that this “cut-up” technique (see William S. Burroughs) was employed by a number of artists who participated in the monumental Asemics 16 collaborative book project in 2011-12. This process creates new symbols and textual forms, all of which could not possibly have been anticipated. We find the result very impressive.

Friends know that Claudia McGill is capable of using an astonishingly wide range of aesthetic approaches to produce pleasing results. For this piece, she looks back to her gritty roots in the Trashpo, anti-art school. In fact, this work bears some similarity to the 2005 Trashpo compositions by visual poet Jim Leftwich (Virginia, USA) that launched the recent Trashpo craze (along with the work of Diane Keys (Illinois, USA).

To speak frankly with our intrepid readers, it is our opinion that the more formalist approaches to cut-up asemics are less successful than the anti-art sensibility. This is likely due to the fact that the formalist approach is less conducive to the integration and synthesis necessary to create a new language (or more properly the suggestion of a language) built on an existing language.


Many thanks to Claudia McGill for sending work for the growing asemic collection.

Bagism lives! and/or Skybridge Studios (Lisa Iversen) rocks! (North Manchester, Indiana, USA)

Lisa - 10.30 - 1

Mail-art by Skybridge Studios (North Manchester, Indiana, USA)

Bagism became part of popcult thanks to the efforts of Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Their media appearances wearing large (often black) bags are classics today. Of course, we know they were only bringing to a larger audience a practice that had already been well-established by Fluxus. Bagism is also a well-established practice in mail-art.

So we were thrilled to receive this classic Bagist mail-art from our dear friend and correspondent Miss Lisa from In Diana. What a joy to take part in the performance and discover the precious cargo:

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What a Fluxus treasure! Two water-smoothed pebbles from the beach! How Fluxus! They have no material value, no metaphorical value, no artworld value – yet – the great paradox – they are a treasure! They are gifts from a dear friend, they are jewels if one just takes time to explore and interact with them. (We do know, for the sake of full disclosure, they were gathered by Miss Lisa on a trip to a very beautiful beach and lake; and she has, by extension, included us in the experience. A privilege indeed!)

Lisa - 10.30 - 3

Thanks Lisa, for the early Christmas present?