December 1st, 2002

pinhole camera

I love Elke

Elke Grundmann sent two postcards: one is on gray card stock sent October 10, 2001, and the other is on white card stock sent on October 11, 2001. The gray card is slightly larger than the white card and the white card is an altered photocopy of the gray card. The upper third of the gray card is blank. The words, "the septic original," run across the center horizon of the card in 1 cm. high, hand-stamped capital letters in blue ink. An overlapping series of fingerprints in the same blue fills the space below the phrase. On the right lower area, stamped on top of the fingerprints, is a round stamp impression that says across the middle "Fluxus," and around the edge, "concerned with insignificance." Along the bottom of the card is the artist's signature, a date stamped in blue ink (09.Okt.2001), and 4 laundry warning symbols for do not wash, bleach, iron or dry in a dryer. As a photocopy of the gray card, the blank areas of the white card copied as a smudged area, and the card gives the impression of being dirty or splattered with fine ink droplets. The blue ink letters and fingerprints from the gray card copied as black. The outstanding content difference between the white and gray card is the phrase, "the clean variant," stamped in the same size capital letters in blue ink above the phrase, "the septic original."

This pair of postcards explores unstated and ironic assumptions about how mail artists view the Internet variant of networking. One assumption is that the Internet is a pristine, untouchable area, full of electric pulsations and infinite multiplications compared to good old simple gray areas of mail art. Grundmann's fingerprints play with assumptions that we have much in common as individuals, all with whorls and loops on the tips of our fingers, and that most artists use their hands to make artworks. Like Nedev, Grundmann uses her hands to directly imprint her identity on the cards. The gray card's world of mail art has multiple meanings, but white card's Internet variant is limited to black and white. The most profound assumption in this piece is the one-day delay built into the delivery of these cards. The delay is a gamble and a joke. Mailing the first card one day before the second exhibits a faith that the cards will be delivered separately, that there will be a dramatic pulse between what seems like a serious statement of fact on the gray postcard, and the contrasting "clean variant" observation delivered by the white card one or more days later. Grundmann trusts that the mail systems will create the delay in the delivery of her works. If the deliver y happens to occur on the same day, she also trusts that I, as a mail artist, will catch the joke because of the stamp cancellation dates. Mail artist love this postal nuance, and I assure you we will miss it when it's gone.

These insider meanings bring the joy of shared recognition to mail artists. Grundmann's exploration of multiples and identity in creators and creations is a masterpiece of mail art if there was such a thing as a masterpiece in this democratic network.
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