MinXus Mail Bag: Gina Ulgen – More than a Trashpoet (Norwich, Norfolk, UK)

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Mail-art by Gina Ulgen (Norwich, Norfolk, UK)

In her first mail-art exchange with us, Gina Ulgen distinguished herself in the found art realm of Trashpo. Subsequently, she was linked to the activities of UK trashpoets (DKULTUK) and contributed to as well as benefitted from some phenom recognition they received a few months back. Yet Gina Ulgen has also established herself outside the Trashpack. We do not believe there is any danger of “type casting” in her case.

We are thrilled to have received this second missive from Gina Ulgen – an incredibly thoughtful gift – which reveals her larger collage talents. This original work is mounted on sturdy cardboard and at approximately 7 x 9.5 inches carries some power in terms of scale as well (for mail-art). The piece was carefully sealed in cellophane.

If Trashpo practice can be illuminated by establishing DaDa roots, we will offer – in terms of context – that Gina Ulgen’s wonderful collage work (here as well with other examples) is driven by the psychological underpinnings of surrealism. Here are some more scans from this mailing:

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We have Gina Ulgen’s signature from the reverse side of the collage and a card (above) that echoes the basic structure and concept of the larger collage:

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We think Gina Ulgen is acknowledging the indeterminate nature of her work: The fact that it is particularly open to multiple (but equally valid) interpretations. Some artists, indeed, might have no conscious intention in creating a piece other than engaging in the process and materiality of art; that is as valid as entering with a very specific intention of guiding the receiver to only one possible interpretation (which rarely, if ever, happens in actuality).

In terms of offering an interpretation for this collage, we think it can viewed as a piece about surfaces: the surface of a piece of visual art or the surface of a text. The collage is dominated by the interesting, Rorschach-like inkblot, which provides a surface and implies abstraction. The blot is both porous yet has the solidity of a wall; it is fractured. The man entering the pipe (or tunnel) violates, fractures, the illusory surface of the collage, suggesting the artificial nature of surfaces in art, illusions that obscure rather than reveal the real and the true. This, as many might discern, is actually a pomo (postmodern) reading of Gina Ulgen’s collage; her work has a strong self-reflective element. Surrealism and postmodernism, essentially different, can easily be confused. Gina Ulgen could very well have a pomo sensibility, although – as we once recommended concerning Cheryl Penn – the best path to understanding is likely through the psycho-analytic.

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