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MAIL ART AS
POLITICAL
PROTEST
In the analog era, mail art
served as one of
few alternatives
to monolithic or state
controlled media,
especially in Latin America
and Eastern Europe.
In the US and Europe,
racial, gender,
and economic disparities
were consistent themes in
mail art and zines. Zines’
multi-page, serial format
enabled extended focus on
topics such as consumerism,
the service economy, new music, and the art establishment.

ROBERTA
GAG

BRAIN CELL

RUUD

CRACKERJ
KID

RAY

N
O
S
N
JOH

“Make
room for
Ray Johnson whose
place in history has been only
vaguely defined. Johnson’s beguiling, challenging art has an exquisite clarity and emotional
intensity that makes it much more than simply a remarkable
mirror of its time, although it is that, too.”
–Roberta Smith, The New York Times (1995)

Ray
Johnson (19271995) was a seminal Pop Art figure in the
1950s, an early conceptualist, and a pioneer of mail art. His preferred medium was collage, that quintessentially twentieth-century art
form that reflects the increased (as the century wore on) collision of
disparate visual and verbal information that bombards modern man.
Integrating texts and images drawn from a multiplicity of sources —
from mass media to telephone conversations — Johnson’s innovativeness spread beyond the confines of the purely
visual

His entire being
– a reflection of his obsessively creative
mind – was actually one continuous “work of art.” His works
reflect his encyclopedic erudition, his promiscuous range of interests,
and an uncanny proto-Google ability to discover connections between a
myriad of images, facts and people.


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