MinXus Mail Bag: Vispo Collabs by Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

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Mail art by Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

This summer we received two large packages of mail art from visual poet Jim Leftwich in Roanoke, the first of which (chronologically) we are documenting in this blog. The vast majority of the pieces are collaborations between Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow. (The exception is one very interesting asemic work at the end.) According to Facebook, Evan Damerow resides in New Zealand. His work was unknown to us before the arrival of this missive.

While Jim Leftwich seems to us inclined toward the prolific naturally, we attribute some of this outpouring of work this summer to the 2015 Marginal Arts Festival. The event seems to have been a great success and a perusal of the documentation will be rewarding to Tenderfoots, no doubt:

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The Anti-Brain Rot mail art call and exhibition also accompanied the festival, which occurred in July (2015). Here is some partial documentation of the entries via C. Mehrl Bennett (Columbus, Ohio, USA):

https://cmehrlbennett.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/the-anti-brain-rot-mailart-exhibit/

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Unless otherwise indicated, all the pieces shown here are Jim Leftwich-Evan Damerow collabs.

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These Leftwich-Damerow collabs hold specific interest to the trashpoets and D-Kulters in the network (many of whom are rabid followers of our humble blog), as Jim Leftwich is acknowledged as having created some of the earliest Trashpo (2005). These pieces (the current work shown here) use found material, have the organic structure so recognizable in most Trashpo and also show the anti-art stance and the On the Road spontaneity of Trashpo composition.

Trashpo is a form of visual poetry. (Many current practitioners are either unaware of or disregard this fact). The pieces documented here make abundant and innovative use of text, text-image associations and juxtapositions, cut up, disruption, asemics and other approaches that are related to poetry and the poetic as well as the tenets of Trashpo rather than mere collage. In short, they are excellent examples. The work transcends Trashpo in many ways yet still offers insights into Trashpo theory and practice for the working trashpoet.

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A bonus in the package was the piece below: “Spirit Writing” by Jim Leftwich (1997), a piece of historical significance because it was made so early in the context of the current thriving and burgeoning asemic movement. Jim Leftwich, however, and as many know, has reservations concerning the use of the term “asemic” and having his own work labeled as asemic writing. So we encourage Tenderfoots to consider the perspective of visual poetry here, although we believe the tide of history is very likely to identify Jim Leftwich as an asemic writer (among other designations):

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A closer look:

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Many thanks to Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow!

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MinXus Mail Bag: “Organized Chaos” by Erin Young (Innisfil, Ontario, Canada)

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Mail art by Erin Young (Innisfil, Ontario, Canada)

A big “Howdy,” a secret MinXus handshake and a wink go out to our new north-of-the border Tenderfoot Erin Young who so kindly sent us this stunning mail art. This is a wonderful abstract piece and roughly post-card-size. Information is included on the reverse side:

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Erin Young is wowing the network with the FAB pieces she is mailing. Based on what we see appearing online, she has a wide-ranging talent. This piece that we are so thrilled to add to the archives explores chaos and order. The colors are wonderful and the work has a tactile, haptic dimension as well. For us, the piece does invoke the idea of chaos; but it has the suggestion of underlying unity and structure as well, especially in terms of shape. Here is a related piece that was also enclosed:

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This was a very helpful inclusion in terms of understanding the process, and note the finger painting. Erin also included a kind note:

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These (above) arrived in an envelope:

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And the reverse:

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Many thanks to Erin Young!

MinXus Mail Bag: Printerpo by FinnBadger (Columbus, Ohio, USA)

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Mail art by Finn Badger (Columbus, Ohio, USA)

Not long ago, we were thrilled to document a FAB Trashbook by FinnBadger. An online discussion about said work (if we are remembering correctly) touched on topics such as the artistic use of randomness, found materials and glitch art. Mostly due to Diane Keys’ work in the area, glitch art (often produced by digital malfunctions) has become associated with Trashpo in the mail art network. “Scannerbed compositions” (art made by improvised arrangement of material on a scannerbed and then quickly copied) has also become associated with Trashpo.

This provides a context for this interesting new piece sent by FinnBadger. It is a sturdy piece of carboard, approximately 5 X 7 inches, with unaltered, glitched text that looks to us like concrete poetry. To many viewers, this might appear to be nothing more than a piece of unremarkable cardboard. In the realm of Fluxus and DaDa – where distinctions between art and life are always a topic of scrutiny – the piece holds a certain fascination. FinnBadger wrote his explanation on the other side:

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Thus FinnBadger officially adds Printerpo (we do not believe we have seen the term before) to the Trashpo Lexicon and the digital avant. Let’s try some other takes on the printerpo:

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And even closer:

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A certain element among conceptualists favors the production of art and writing by machines with as little human involvement as possible. (Or is that from 1984?) FinnBadger has taken both the conceptualist and machine-generated route here. The use of found material, at this point in time, is a kind of classicism.

We greatly appreciate having this interesting work for the archives!

MinXus Mail Bag: Two Minimalist Texts by Thomas Brown (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

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Mail art by Thomas Brown (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Thomas Brown sometimes aka Bhomas Trown tends to produce language-centered work involving puns, wordplay and jokes. Recently, his mail art has taken a minimalist turn; and we are thrilled to be able to share two examples. The work above, in fact, could easily qualify as minimalist concrete poetry.

The poem’s three words involve the possible combinations, re-combinations and repetitions of four letters, emphasizing the materiality of language and its mathematical nature. The interrogation of a single word to reveal other words and ideas is present, an approach often used in minimalist concrete poetry. Absence is a strong element in the piece; and other words, phrases, sentences (there is a period) are implied.

The poem uses as its foundation – “This is it.” – a commonplace, over-used and sometimes near meaningless expression. The wide-open pronouns that have the potential to be linked with innumerable nouns – sometimes with absurd results – add a strong element of the indeterminate. The poem then skillfully uses that surface as a gateway into a deeper exploration of language through associations, numerical combinations and wordplay.

What we admire most about this work is its adherence to minimalist containment. The various combinations of letters and words could be extended, making the piece longer, revealing more possibilities. But Thomas Brown allows (and trusts) his readers to fill in the gaps and thus participate in the construction of meaning. Here is the reverse side:

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Here is another piece recently received from Thomas Brown:

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While very different from the first piece, a similar principle of repetition is used.

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Many thanks to Thomas Brown!

And some minimalist poetry by Robert Creeley as a point of comparison:

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Remix: Two Asemic Object Poems by Karen Champlin (Highland Park, Illinois, USA)

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Asemic object poem (2010) by Karen Champlin (Highland Park, Illinois, USA)

 

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Asemic object poem (2010) by Karen Champlin (Highland Park, Illinois, USA)

MinXus Mail Bag: Object Poem by Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

 

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

Richard Canard is an encyclopedia of avant forms and tropes that have traveled from numerous sources into the mail art network. He frequently puts theory into practice, and we are always interested in the results. For instance, we like to see how Richard does minimalism, or how Richard does vispo, or how Richard does erasure, etc. Thus we are very pleased to have received this compelling and aesthetically pleasing object poem from our faithful correspondent in Carbondale, Illusion. Richard Canard is no stranger to the form. Some of his contributions to the genre are even notorious. He sent a flattened aluminum can with tire tread indentations to vispo guru Goef Huth. Richard proclaimed it an asemic object poem.

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In traditional poetry, an object poem is verse written about an object. Ekphrasis – a poem about a painting for instance – is a kind of object poetry. To the left of things, however, the object poem idea has become literal: The poem is a physical object. So we are adopting Dick Higgins’ view of object poetry. Furthermore, we contend that an effective object poem is not merely language inscribed upon an object; replacing paper with stone does not necessarily make adequate use of the possibilities of the form. Indeed, language need not even be present if the object conveys the “poetic,” however one might define that.

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In a case where language is present in the object poem, the object must inherently contribute to the meaning of the poem and, thus, become part of its form. Thus we find a materialist view at work similar to ideas underlying concrete poetry. Richard Canard’s “MARASHINO” fulfills our criteria perfectly. The red circular tag, string and hole work with the minimalist text to create the poem. If any of these elements were removed, the poem would fall into total incoherence; disruption of representation is clearly not Richard Canard’s intention. Disruption of poetic tradition might be.

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Thanks, as ever, to Richard Canard!

MinXus Mail Bag: Moan Lisa Applies to the MinXus-Lynxus School of Beauty & Cosmology (North Liberty, Iowa, USA)

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Mail art by Moan Lisa (North Liberty, Iowa, USA)

Based on comments Moan Lisa posted elsewhere, we assume this mail art recently received is Moan’s formal application to the MinXus-Lynxus School of Beauty & Cosmology. This application-object poem is a complete edition of Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems published by New Directions. As you can see, the book is sealed with tape. Instructions say: DO NOT OPEN. We did anyway, and the book is in good shape and completely readable. We enjoyed revisiting a few Pound classics.

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Moan Lisa did attend the Martha Stuart School of Asemic Wallpaper (defunct) but dropped out. So did many other people. Moan Lisa, who led an Anti-MinXus movement not long ago, is far too advanced to be a student at the MinXus School of Beauty or a Tenderfoot at the Mink Ranch for that matter. We will consider some sort of special appointment.

Here are some old MinXus School of Beauty promotional materials:

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Many thanks to Moan Lisa for this and other mail art recently received.

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