Concerning the Mysterious Disappearance of Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

Richard - 4.23.2014 - 1

Mail-art by Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

First, our faithful correspondent, friend and Mink Ranch fav Richard Canard has not disappeared from the face of the earth like David Zack. Darest Richard continues to circulate his marvelous work throughout the Eternal Network, perhaps more than ever. He did, in the dead winter months, mysteriously disappear from the digital realm, sending messages to his friends that his computer imploded. After several months, he has not returned to the aether.

Tenderfoots are no doubt asking themselves: “Rancher, why does it matter whether or not Richard is plugged or unplugged? If he says his computer is broken, you should believe him. He still sends mail to the ranch on a regular basis after all.”

Well dearest Tenderfoots, we are naturally paranoid. The Neoist Conspiracy and T.O.X.I.S. have strengthened this tendency within us. Remember that Richard Canard is an original member of the New York Correspondance School, a network veteran of many decades, a representative of the Old School and a historic link to our shared past as well as an energetic participant in THIS, the New Order of things.

Many networkers ponder the relationship between the internet and snail mail. As the internet begins to lose its luster as a wide open frontier for free expression, you can bet your last silver dollar that some are wondering if it might be better to go off the grid and return to the more private medium of sealed envelopes as the sole means of communication and exchange. Reasons for this include surveillance (something that always makes avant artists nervous), censorship (Moan Lisa’s woes with Google and Facebook are a prime example) and an influx (can we be honest here Tenderfoots?) of cute postcard traders who have no clue or interest in what mail-art has been about for a half century. Here is a truth about mail-art you won’t see at the IUOMA: The original snail mail-art was egalitarian, anyone could participate; however, it was underground. You had to know someone to become part of it, which meant you weren’t just anyone after all. If you discovered it by accident, it meant you were looking for something you weren’t finding elsewhere; you found the place where you really belonged.

So we are interested to know where Richard Canard stands on this issue. MinXus-Lynxus is not going off the grid, but we’re always interested in current thinking. All we can really do is share some recent missives from Richard, and you’ll have to determine his current position. Here is the reverse side of the mail-art shown above:

Richard - 4.23.2014 - 2

Richard Canard has been a wonderful and natural contributor to Trashpo and DKult. Since his digital disappearance, he sent us this interesting piece:

Richard - 4.23.2014 - 3

And the reverse:

Richard - 4.23.2014 - 4

We wrote a letter to Richard enquiring about the status of his computer and relaying some thoughts on minimalist poetry. This is the response we received:

Richard - 4.23.2014 - 5

Richard Canard is a very fine visual poet, and we plan to post more of his work in this area. This particular piece appears to be a very clever erasure.

Richard - 4.23.2014 - 6

As for Richard Canard’s position concerning digital vs. snail mail, we must consider the situation indeterminate. That should be no surprise. John Cage advanced the notion of the indeterminate aggressively, and Ray Johnson applied many of Cage’s ideas to mail-art including randomness principles and numerology as well as the indeterminate. So we are left with the question that began the post. “What was the question?” asked Gertrude Stein.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DK
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 01:13:14

    nice blog. I really miss Richard’s online presence. When I first became involved in mail art sans internet, it definately was a more real/pure experience for me and I never felt status factored in in any way. I received mail art from active mail artists across the board. I noticed once things went more online that the factions kind of began and I wasn’t in touch with as many of the “key players”. It is natural for human beings to create hierarchy I guess, but it is a fact I do not like. Comes down to survival of the fittest, but since we no longer have to live as primates in survival mode, you’d think people could kind of evolve past the constant competition. Maybe “My computer imploded” is just the perfect excuse to get out of the cyber rat race. Richard, still wise even in his absence


    • minkrancher
      Apr 24, 2014 @ 14:42:16

      Thank you for the thoughts, DK. You provide a reality check because I too think Richard made a conscious choice to go offline & didn’t want to get into making statements.

      I also think we are seeing the mail-art community breaking into factions, following the pattern of many mainstream “art movements.” I agree it has to do with easy access to m-a through the internet. The good news is that m-a is probably more popular than ever before. The bad news is that it will probably not survive as a unified, supportive community. And it’s the mutual support that has given m-a the strength. Most artists and writers are locked in deadly competition with others, trying to rise by pushing other people down. Mail-art works by the principle of raising everybody up together. I think we have all seen just how effective that can be.

      It’s no big deal. We’ll push ahead, right?


  2. minkrancher
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 14:54:17

    Let me add that I don’t want to fall into the “good old days” syndrome, which would be easy for me to do. I see many veteran mail-artists on FB, some of them people I respect, bitching about how terrible m-a is today & how everything was better back in the day.

    I was REALLY active in the 80s and into the early 90s & then left for a long time. It was a tremendous, free and open community; but it had its downside as well. In my opinion, the experience today is just as good as it ever was, and the things that are happening on many fronts are just as innovative & interesting.

    Every era has challenges.


  3. jesarchives
    Dec 31, 2014 @ 20:52:08

    GOOD TO FIND YOU AGAIN . . . and to see work by richard . . . . of course . . . . . rock and roll . . . . .


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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: