In homage to David Cole, dead April 19, 2000,
in Montclair, New Jersey, U.S.A.

by Clemente Padín

The Mail Art between the one which was and the one which will be. The iron law of the system in operation: first the symbolic activity of the towns creates the artistic movements in order to mark absences and imperfections in the social texture and, then, the system, once past the iconoclast rage of the first moments, return them to its service, by means of the institucionalization and transforming in merchandise that had been created in order to attack it, subjecting it to the laws of the market.

That´s the mechanic that made to claudicate and to perish many vanguards and all art type that has pretended to move the structures of the social-economic effective system. All the intents that art and artists have carried out for to change the system have claudicated in front of the power and the money. It is also sure that it agrees with the moment in that those subversive tendencies in the field of the social and the artistic activities, drain their initial impulse and the strenght of their proposals. That is to say, when their possibilities of contributing "new information" to the repertoires of the social knowledge, yield, exhausted.

The strength of Mail Art, from its commencements by the middle of the 60s. (until half-filled of the 90s.), it was its bet for the communication and the relation between peoples. Above all its toil for an universal language, objective of all the utopias: the eternal and without borders communication. For this it was supposed to transfer the axis that maintained to the art in the sphere of the "change" in order to derive it to the sphere of the "use". The art work is left from the field of the merchandises to buy and sell for money in the market and it is transformed in an instrument of dialogue, in product of communication. This is the revolution of Mail Art. A cultural and artistic construction that aimed to the heart of the system upon obstructing the one which maintains it united: the money. And, also, upon denying its structure (the market) and its consequence (consumism).

However, Mail Art is of this world and has evolved. To the view, nowadays, we are in front of the opening of new options starting from its increible wealth. The world, also, seems another from the moment in that Ray Johnson had the brillant idea, in the 60s., of sending his friends works without finishing so that they complete them and they forward to him (the "Add& Pass") and, arm so, his first expositions on Mail Art in New York. First the slow process of institucionalization of mediating of the 80s. when the cultural organisms, associate to the official art, like Galleries and Museums, began to organize expositions on Mail Art. Each Art Biennial felt headless if it doesn´t organized its own exposition of Mail Art. Each University felt in lack with its social environment if it doesn´t created classes Mail Art. After the sale of files...and goes on...

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Without a doubt, during any time will persist the two tendencies, the call "amateur" Mail Art ("weekend paint") and the professional one. The expositions carried out without economical support, for "love to art", and the gigantic expositions of thick and colored catalogs of the Institutions committed with the official apparatus: Galleries, Museums, National Posts and, above all, Associations of Philatelics that have imposed the gender "artistamp" like their movie star. On one hand the shows in where it is visible the contribution of mailartists overturned to the communication and, for another, the expositions organized by the establisment in where the critic and the juries impose the strickle of the "good gust". Before didn't matter that the level of the work out "good" or "bad" according to the commanding pleasure since the objective was the exchange, the fatic function of the artistic language, the communication; now, the Mail Art calls are personnels, not for the whole networking. Now they offer stipends to the guests in order to stimulate their participation and they are organizing similar expositions like the "Salon of the Book" that editorial industry organizes in order to favor the sale of its product, the book. Not very lacking for the competitions and rankings to the manner of the MTV.

These reflections come to story of that, in the International Art Exposition of Jeju, carried out in the Island of the Peace (Jeju City) from South Korea from 18th to 27th October, 2001, the mailartists participants signed an Accord that puts in evidence this situation between Mail Art centered in communication and Mail Art centered in the market.

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October 22, 2001
Exhibition Hall, Jeju Folk Tourism Town 1F
Jeju -City, Jejudo, 690-832, Korea
Held in conjunction with
Jeju International Art Show 2001
October 18 - 27, 2001
Jeju Culture and Art Foundation

Mail art has been widely accepted as a contemporary artistic movement. It should remain an open, non-hierarchical structure. It is both a new medium (mail art) and a movement (Mail Art). Mail art offers a new and tremendous possibility of making art in the new millennium. Mail art is an established tradition in North America, Europe and Australia, and is experiencing new expansion in South America. The Peace Island Jeju International Mail Art Show 2001 represents an historic moment in spreading mail art in regions like Asia. Such shows give us the chance to develop an international language and imagery against the challenges of violence.
1. Mail art is the indigenous art of the global village. Categories of mail art include: 2-D & 3-D work, film, video, sound-tape, and visual poetry, art mailed to another artist as a gift or as exchange, envelopes used to mail art (either inside or on the outside), postcards as surfaces for art works, Artistamps and images used as postage stamps, photo-copy art, e-mail images and/or sound attachments, fax art and other communication art, such as mail art congresses, mail art tourism, networking and personal meetings. Mail art is artistic communication through various media. It overlaps occasionally with other art forms. We experience mail art as a venue for alternative art forms. In contrast to main-stream art, mail art accepts all contributions to a project on an equal basis without selection or evaluation or set quality standards (no jury, no fee, no return, documentation to all participants).
2. In spite of the rapid increase of electronic mail, as well as letter bombs and posted envelopes containing Anthrax, mail art will survive because it is not dependent on the postal systems. We affirm Robert Filiou's concept of the Eternal Network in Mail Art in which participants come and go, while a certain core remains. We encourage individuals in the Middle East, Africa and Asia to join the Mail Art movement. Then and only then shall we have a truly global art movement, open to any individual wishing to participate in the international free exchange of artistic expression. We agree on the necessity to take mail art to the general public through exhibitions, catalogues and venues. We encourage mail artists to curate shows with due respect to the artists represented and to regional cultures, and to make creative use of their archives for scholarship, for representation in art institutions and for increasing public awareness of the art mail movement.
3. Mail art is based on a free exchange of art and communication without censorship. The production, exhibition and presentation of mail art should remain non-commercial. We are aware, however that there should be no barrier for mail artists to cover the costs of mail art production through mail art itself and to raise public and private funding for exhibitions and events alike. We support and are ready to defend the artistic freedom of every mail artist against any kind of censorship.

We the undersigned, in agreement with the above and with due respect to all
international mail artists, do affirm our dedication to the philosophy
behind the PEACE ISLAND Jeju International Art Show 2001 sponsored by the
Jeju Culture and Art Foundation on October 18 - 27, 2001 as expressed in
the Exhibition Catalogue by the Governor of Jeju: Woo, Keun-Min, Yang,
Chang Bo, Chairman of the Jeju Provincial Congress and Kim, Jae-Ho, Chairman
of the Jeju Culture and Art Foundation. We express our appreciation to the
above, the staff of the Jeju Folk Tourism Town, the artists and the other
citizens of Jeju for their open and warm hospitality. Subscribers: Jas W. Felter (Canada); Peter Netmail (Germany); Sordi Albert (Italy); Snak-Y (Italy); Eun Chul Jang (South Korea); Young Jay Reads (South Korea); John Held, Jr. (United States); Michael Thompson (United States); Michael Hernandez de la Luna (United States) and Mia Spiral (United States).
Incredibly, in all the document is expressed a defene of the primordial principle of the Mail Art. Appreciate the emphasis when it is said that the Mail Art owes "should remain non-commercial" and, immediately, leave the free hands to whom wants recuperate the osts of its mailartwork productions, that is to say, the free hands in order to sell Mail Art and, above all, to whom, without the minor scruple, organize Mail Art Shows, collecting for it, to institutions and galleries being worth it of the effort and creative talent of the artists seduced in front of the possibility of receiving the "luxurious" catalog that quit being the nexus of necessary communication between the artists for the amplification of the net ("Mail Art is the postal address") in order to be converted in a collection of samples for sales. The last but not the least, please, warn the tone final: "We support and are ready to defend the artistic freedom of every mail artist against any kind of censorship", that is to say, the liberty for to transgress the basic principle of Mail Art: "Mail Art and the money doesn't mix." And, also, the liberty in order to accuse of "censors" to whom don't agree with that mercantile conception of the Mail Art.  

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But, communication is communication. Nobody collects by corresponding with somebody. When people collects by speaking with somebody, the dialogue transforms in an interview. Between the dialogue and the interview there is all one fan of intermediate attitudes for the environment in which could exist the communication. It is sure that in professional Mail Art could exist the communication but, money, soon , swiftly, will impose its laws in order to make that communication transforms in a monologue, like it occurss in almost all current art. For it, Mail Art, I think, upon losing the feature that makes singular, the transformation of the art work of subject merchandise to the rules of the market in a product of communication, it will have quit being the one which is.

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David Cole, Chuck Welch alias Crackerjack Kid, Mrs. Cole, Fernand Barbot and Clemente Padín in the David´s home, New York, November, 1989

Montevideo, November of 2001
All the artistamps are from David Cole.

Clemente Padín: C. Correo Central 1211, 1000 Montevideo, Uruguay