A Survey of Minimalist Mail-Art: Not Hi Ng (USA), Diane Keys (USA), Eduardo Cardoso (Portugal), Richard Canard (USA) & Carina Granlund (Finland)

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Minimalist mail-art by Not Hi Ng (San Pablo, California, USA)

The news that Ugly Duckling Press has released a complete edition of Aram Saroyan’s minimal poems has created excitement in the Eternal Network. Minimalism has always had a presence in the network, due at least in part to the Fluxus influence. The occasion of this rediscovery and interest in Saroyan’s work led us to meditate upon mail-artists who are using minimalism in their current work.

We have three boxes of mail-art beside us, most received in the last six months, that are being prepared for the MinXus archives and/or blogging. We went through this material with an eye to determine which friends are minimalists or incorporating minimalism in their art. We found relatively few, although what we did find was impressive. Almost nothing was found to represent minimalism as it appears in the visual arts. The minimal work we found tended to be visual poetry; of course we receive a great deal of visual poetry.

The following is a collection of minimalist mail-art received. In some cases, we have added scans of earlier work to provide depth and context.

Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA)

The expansive Queen of Trash and DKult icon, when we took a closer look, is also an accomplished minimalist. We were surprised to find just how often minimalist use of text appears in her work. Here is an example of recent work received:

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The reverse side:

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Eduardo Cardoso (Sines, Portugal)

Eduardo Cardoso is well-known as an accomplished visual poet, and much of this work is minimalist. He founded the popular Minimal Mail Art group at the IUOMA. We have not received minimal work from Eduardo recently. An envelope containing Trashpo does reveal his method of using small fragments of text:

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Examples from the archives provide more examples:

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Eduardo Cardoso (circa 2011)

Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

Many are familiar with Richard Canard’s mail-art meditations that appear like compacted essays on postcards. He is also a consistent and adept minimalist who sometimes shows the influence of Aram Saroyan. Richard is prolific and we are thrilled to be able to share with you some excellent examples, including what appears to a series or variations on a theme:

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The reverse side:

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Richard Canard (2013)

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Richard Canard (2013)

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Richard Canard (2013)

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Richard Canard (2013)

Carina Granlund (Petsmo, Finland)

Recent work received served as a reminder to us that Carina Granlund consistently uses minimalism, especially on her envelopes. This work involves the use of tape. We found some examples in blog scan files:

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Carina Granlund (circa 2012)

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Carina Granlund

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Carina Granlund (circa 2012)

While minimalism might not be trending in the network right now, it appears to be alive and well, especially in the vispo area. Many thanks to the minimalists for their great work!


MinXus Mail Bag: In which we respond to a missive from Vizma Bruns (Waitpinga, Australia) concerning Miss Carina’s hair

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Mail-art by Vizma Bruns (Waitpinga, Australia)

Attending to unsettled business this morning, we share with you an envelope of wonderful art from our trusted Australian correspondent, Vizma Bruns. Her missive offers a proposal that bears a response, and we want to share it with all Tenderfoots. Our day is always considerably brightened when we find in our mailbox an envelope bearing the MinXus Waitpinga stamp created by the great E – Ambassador of Utopia (France):

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Vizma’s mail-art is very distinctive and, here, shows here preference for Trashpo. This particular mailing is held together with renderings for a MinXus hair manufacturing facility:

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Here is the reverse side:

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The plan has a marketing component elegantly connected to MinXus’s mission to identify who has the best hair:

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The reverse side:

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The gift card – referencing the famous, traveling red bag – is very generous. We are touched by Vizma’s reverence and deference for Carina Granlund’s (Petsmo, Findland) hair. This is a visionary proposal. Here at the Mink Ranch, we wish we could provide assistance. Unfortunately, our auxiliary enterprises such as the Mink Ranch Gift Shop, the MinXus-Lynxus School of Beauty & Cosmology and the Alsatian Diner are, as we say, deeply in the red. The proposed waterpark remains a small, icy ditch, as funding has ceased. Furthermore, we are embroiled in a dispute concerning the Saint Empress Marie Antonette brand and its ownership. We are pleased to endorse Vizma Bruns’ plan, if only in spirit.

Our plan for an international “Who Has the Best Hair Contest” might have gone a long way to settle the burning question about who has the best hair. Alas, this project is also stalled.

MinXus-Lynxus has hit a bumpy patch on the dusty trail. Yet Tenderfoots should not despair. The rugged, pioneer spirit that built MinXus-Lynxus gives us resolve to move onward to the promise of the Tangerine Oncoming.

We very much enjoy Vizma Brun’s envelope:

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The other side:

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Deepest thanks to Vizma for all her wonderful art and for her contributions to the development of the MinXus-Lynxus concept.

MinXus Mail Bag: Fab artist’s book-triptychs from Carina Granlund (Petsmo, Finland)

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Mail-art by Carina Granlund (Petsmo, Finland)

Miss Carina sent us a package beyond compare for the holiday season, the highlight of which is an absolutely stunning artist’s book. The cover is shown above with its delicately made clasp that also functions as a cut-up. The book uses a triptych structure with panels of images on one side and text on the other:

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We admire Miss Carina’s unerring eye for fascinating images and her ability to weave nonlinear narratives that integrate startling juxtapositions with elements of formal continuity. For example, notice the repetition of faces and their placement. The camera adds an element of the self-referential; the watch introduces the element of time and movement, extended by the car and merry-go-round horse. The longer one meditates, the more possibilities present themselves. The textual triptych is equally fascinating:

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Again, there is a strong formalist element in the composition offset by the disrupted text. It appears that Miss Carina was not simply using text as material here, and there is a message concerning art, albeit cloaked in her characteristically cryptic style. The self-referential element – art about art – becomes undeniable in this second triptych. We have found a deeply personal and moving meaning in the work, which we will not explain, so others might find their own personal meanings too. “The Three Marys” certainly suggests a triptych.

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The book was enclosed in this handmade envelope (above). We did smile, realizing the date is Pearl Harbor Day, which is still observed in the USA. The missive also contained a wonderful collage made of thick scraps and pieces. This piece could fairly be considered haptic:

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The reverse side suggests Trashpo as well:

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As the envelope indicates, never discount Carina Granlund’s wry humor either:

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Postcrossing? Really?

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Her use of tape is always a fav at the Mink Ranch, and here we have another great example.

Carina Granlund’s mail-art is always exceptionally well done and thoughtful. Even so, we consider this particular package a masterpiece. Thanks, as ever.

MinXus Mail Bag: Mail Art Martha goes Trashemic (Beckenham, UK)


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Mail-art by Mail Art Martha (Beckenham, UK)

When we consider Trashpo luminaries of the UK, Mail Art Martha – with her renowned Trash Trolley – immediately comes to mind, along with Rebecca Guyver, of course. (DKULTUK is still an unrealized dream in those fair isles.)

Mail Art Martha’s eminence is only further confirmed by this wonderful piece that recycles mail-art (or does it D-Konstruct?) and (above) includes Martha’s unique brand of asemic writing – the first we have seen. Of course, when a trashpoet works asemically, then it is “trashemic,” as pioneered by Neil Gordon (USA), Karen Champlin (USA) and other notables. These lovely, effortless, expressive cursive lines could, indeed, only be trashemic. Here is the reverse side with some very interesting cosmic debris nicely assembled:

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We do not believe this piece is meant to opened; we could not bring ourselves to do so. We extend deepest gratitude to Mail Art Martha for this very fine mail-art!

MinXus Mail Bag: Trunk-ated text-ures from Erica Durante (Waldwick, New Jersey, USA)

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Mail-art by Erica Durante (Waldwick, New Jersey, USA)

Erica Durante, our MinXus-Lynxus correspondent in New Jersey, sent us this beautiful piece during the holiday season. A classic, postcard-size mail-art piece, we are enthralled by the subtle colors and layering, which – upon contemplation – reveal sub-structures of shapes and letters. The chief method of composition here is stamping. We believe this mail-art should not be viewed for quick visual consumption. Instead, we enjoy returning to it again and again, each time finding new depth and possibilities. We bask in the warmth and harmony!

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Many thanks to Eric Durante for sending such lovely work!

MinXus Mail Bag: Seriously distrupted texts & found material from Alicia Starr (Iowa City, Iowa, USA)

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Mail-art by Alicia Starr (Iowa City, Iowa, USA)

Moan Lisa is currently bringing the great state of Iowa in the USA heartland to international attention in the Eternal Network. Our good friend Alicia Starr is making equally noteworthy contributions in the same geographic location. What is “happening” in Iowa? We are not sure, but we like it.

Presented here are two pieces received from Alicia Starr. The work above, spectacular in our view, is language-centered and an innovative approach to “textual disruption”: a favorite pastime of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets (we prefer the original spelling from Charles Bernstein’s seminal zine) and thus a practice laden in theory which we will bypass in favor of simply enjoying the work’s visual power. We believe Alicia Starr employed the tape transfer process that we have already praised at length in the work of Jon Foster (USA) and Carina Granlund (Finland). The Fluxus notion of language as material is also present.

Rather than using more conventional approaches such as the cut-up or insertion of words and  phrases into existing text, Alicia Starr uses overlays and letter fragmentation to create this stunning visual poem. Chance operations are at work here. The ghostly images and silhouettes are also tremendous. We have seen similar works described as asemic. Indeed, the asemic component is certainly present, making this a piece that has it all. And of course the work is uniquely MinXus. Here is a detail scan revealing the effect achieved though the overlay and transfer process:

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Do we spy a mink or ermine? Here is the reverse side of the little-larger-than-postcard size piece:

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Much earlier, when we were taking a blog hiatus, Alicia Starr also sent us this wonderful mail-art using found materials:

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The stark polarities of black & white, the raw qualities of shredding, the suggestion of Trashpo – we believe – work together to make this yet another powerful piece by Alicia Starr. She provided some explanation on the reverse side:

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Our deepest thanks go to Alicia Starr for sending this amazing work that so skillfully draws from varied avant techniques!

MinXus Mail Bag: Asemics from Claudia Garcia (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

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Mail-art  “Numbers in Movement” by Claudia Garcia (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Here at the Mink Ranch, where things are very icy and snowy, we are thrilled to start the new year with a wonderful asemic piece carried on a warm and sunny breeze from Claudia Garcia, our new friend in Argentina. Claudia included a lovely note on the reverse side:

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Claudia Garcia, we enjoy the piece immensely as well as your graciousness. We are thrilled to be able to add “Numbers in Movement” to our growing collection of visual poetry from Latin America, a part of the world that has contributed so much and continues to contribute significantly to concrete poetry, visual poetry and asemic writing.

“Numbers in Movement,” in our estimation, represents the exciting asemic/vispo hybrid work we see circulating in the Eternal Network. Claudia Garcia incorporates both the fragmentation of the cut-up with the fluidity of asemic cursive writing in the piece. The use of numerals introduces and questions the idea of linearity. The primacy of language and mathematics (not images) makes this a highly conceptual piece (also a characteristic of work we see from Brazil and Argentina). So beyond simply enjoying the whimsical quality, we find ourselves pondering serious ideas about language conveyed through this mail-art. Here is Claudia Garcia’s envelope:

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And the reverse:

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Many thanks, Claudia Garcia! You have brightened what is proving to be a very frigid and bleak January here in the Northern climes. We look forward to more exchanges!

And take a gander at Claudia Garcia’s blog. Sublime! Lovely!


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