Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Preciousness of an Address

People are precious about their address. Mail art people too, at least sometimes. I get it, it’s your home and all of that, but it’s also the 21st century. Most broad information can be found with just a little work. If I want someone’s address, I can probably find it with some persistence. Yes, that’s creepy, I get it. Not that I do this, or ever have done this, I prefer folks to willingly give them to me.

Mail-artists are somewhat inclined to give out their addresses. They’re less precious about this information. I find addresses through add and pass sheets, mail art calls, ones listed on IUOMA, and others given to me. You do have a few folks that expect people to ask for their address. I’ve never asked for an address to a mail-art person who is willingly trying to hide it. I avoid them not because of any ideological purpose, I simply don’t want to send an email to get it. I’ll find it or not, or I’ll just mail to a different person.

You always have to have a picture in a blog post, right?

Public addresses are different. You know, landmarks and what not. I’ve sent unsolicited collages and random ephemera to Pink’s Hot Dogs in Los Angeles and to Ian MacKaye in Washington DC. The Dischord house is a public address to me, an institution. Strangely, Ian sent me something back, and has for the past couple of years. This rarely happens. There’s not a lot of context for mail-art. I can only imagine what people would think of something sent at random to them, but I’ve done this for as long as I’ve sent mail-art. I’ve directed mail to a taco joint in Lexington North Carolina for years and I have no idea if that’s a burden, or a pleasure. It has to be better than an application for a new credit card.

There’s enough mail-artists to send to, easily available addresses, to keep you sending. Public places and famous addresses are also somewhat easy to find. Sending to non-mail-art people you admire is a different issue altogether. You know, artists and musicians that aren’t involved in mail-art and probably don’t have a famous address like the Dischord house. How do you get that address? Why send anything at all? It’s a challenge, it’s fun. I like looking for hard to find addresses.

In the 21st century, the easiest way to contact this low level artistic “celebrity” is through Instagram. I’d dipped my toes in sending “DM’s” (as the kids say) before and with some success. One random hardcore legend (not Ian, a different one) sent me his address. I’ve been sending stuff to him for quite a while. I was emboldened by this to have the project be a little more ambitious. So, sitting in my basement last weekend, I crafted a short message. I referenced that I was a mail-artist and that I’d like to send them some things, no obligation on their part. I sent this message to at least 20 people / groups, everyone from indie rock bands, to podcasters, to somewhat famous actors. You have to ask, right?

It’s been almost a week and I’ve only received one response. It was from a band I could see responding, my favorite band, a band with a clear D.I.Y. aesthetic. With my initial post, I didn’t prepare for the recipient’s confusion. Whoever was writing on behalf of the band, asked me “Which member do you want to send to?” I’d clearly not thought of this. Without a good response, I wrote, “Whoever might seem most interested in the project.” I didn’t hear anything back. The experiment failed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Luke McGuff
1859 Aberg Ave #301
Madison WI 53704

I was active in mail art in the 80s and early 90s and I'm getting back into it a little bit. Thank you.