I have been trying to find the flyer, invite or advert’ David Dellafiora disseminated for ‘From Castaway to Plague Years - Mail Art Homage to the Life and Works of Daniel Defoe’. They or it would complement the following images/scans of the documentation I received having contributed to that show. Invitations or calls for submissions go some way towards explaining some of what a mail art show is, was and could be.
Losing and Finding Memories
The interior of Lost and Found in E17 is a condensed and compressed terrain - a deep topography of modest furnishings, domestic accoutrements and personal affects packed in boxes within boxes stowed away in the nether and over reaches of what is the field student’s bedsitting room. Whereas the more accomplished of you might have separate rooms for the pursuit of your pleasures, this cloistered personage retreats to the confines of corners to indulge in his ‘pleasurely’ pursuits. To retrieve a memory such as a mail art exhibition flyer involves embarking on a perilous archival expedition. Avalanches from atop cupboards and cave-ins beneath beds have cramped the determination and enthusiasms of the field student as intrepid explorer on many an occasion. I must draw some maps of this room.
A field student seeks context and precedent
Less accomplished - a psycho persona manqué? No! The field student of E17 can qualify his status quo by resorting to the lives of others, identifying with such bedroom luminaries as Xavier de Maistre, brought to him by the erudition of Merlin Coverley’s, Psychogeography. Lost and Found in E17 (Me, Myself and I) can stake claims to the flaneury of, A Journey Around My Room, and, A Nocturnal Investigation Around My Room - the whole time residing in a childish and/or adult psyche. In the manner of psychogeographer, de Maistre, do I actually have to read those tomes; shall I imagine I have read them and give an account of that literary journey? What sort of pretentiousness would this be? I do all I can to avoid the hormonal quagmire and student japery of adolescent situationalism and God damn, one refuses be drawn in that guise.
Mr Beere, what has this got to do with, From Castaway to Plague Years?
The castaway, Robinson Crusoe, is cited as a pre-eminent and influential figure in psychogeography, an archetype all most. Crusoe was isolated and marooned - cut off from the known world by a vast, cruel and unforgiving ocean.
Defoe, the merchant, in ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ was also isolated, surrounded by (a sea of?) pestilence and those who quacked in it, as well as the official restrictions to control the spread of the disease.
Each had recourse to his imagination and the wandering mind.
An ethos of mail art was to counter some isolation by artistic communication through the post - and to foster the artistic activities born of isolation, separation, exile, embargo and loneliness. Mail Art could be a culture of connection and exchange via the posted gift. Could it be all those names and addresses in the documentation are ‘Robinsons’ - ‘Robinsonnaires’ who posted calls for recognition and reassurance if not rescue from across the fluxus flows - each item of mail a site of real and imaginary meetings?
Each of us might tell of...
The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of ............................., of ................................, Mariner: Who lived Seven and Ten Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the ....................., near the Mouth of the Great River of ...........................; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all ................... perished but ........self. With An Account how ......... was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates
In my post to the show I cast a clear plastic pop bottle into the mail art ocean. The unwrapped bottle contained a collection of partially rusted nails salvaged from the wreckage of a shed recently destroyed in a storm - homage to Daniel Defoe.
A field student considers a deep sea expedition in search of a crew lost to the depths of the V&A.
Julian Beere said...
Hi David, a big hat tip to the dedication of Field Studies' emanators and manifestators for this fluxus insurgence of the corridors of arts and crafts power - fluxus is life!
'Back in 1993 the Theatre of Names and Addresses studied the field of the V&As lost property department. Field students J.Beere and K.Keller collaborated in the planting of a used William Morris willow pattern decorated address book in the said department. By some mysterious circumstance the book was nowhere to be found when we tried to reclaim it. 17 years should be long enough for them to have found it - if not, Field Studies' manifestations will certainly be more than compensation'.