MinXus Mail Bag: Moan Lisa unplugged (Des Moines, Iowa, USA)

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Mail-art by Moan Lisa (Des Moines, Iowa, USA)

Moan Lisa is a prolific and ever-changing mail-artist; and as a result, we are assembling a large and diverse collection in the MinXus USA Archives. We are sharing this piece because it reveals an undigital and back-to-basics perspective on our ingenious Iowa friend.

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All the pages in this envelopes use lists and erasure (or crossing out). The main document is a list of songs and bands:

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Trashpoets are familiar with the use of lists (shopping lists in particular) as poetry: listpo. Moan Lisa is a listpo master/mistress in this correspondence.

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The work documents a particular moment in popcult, filtered through the perceptions of Moan Lisa.

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Moan Lisa is deeply influenced by Fluxus and is making innovations in the spirit of Fluxus. Yet there is always something deeply personal and self-revealing in Moan’s work that is more akin to confessional poetry and abstract expressionism. We once described the work of Karen Champlin (Illinois, USA) as “confessional vispo,” and much of Moan Lisa’s work fits this description as well.

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Fluxus – with its emphasis on materiality, chance operations and minimalism – can be mechanistic, non-expressive and even sterile. (Although a look at lesser-known publications by Dick Higgins’ Something Else Press shows that the Old Fluxus was far more eclectic than current institutional assessments admit.)  The same non-emo impulse appears later in Langpo and now Conceptual Writing with its “against expression” dictum. Moan Lisa employs many of the strategies used by these group but stands, from our view, apart from them. There is a desire to communicate human, subjective experience without repression, filters or method.

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We can always count on Moan Lisa to send compelling and unexpected mail-art. As ever, deepest thanks!


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