The post office has been a lifeline for marginalized groups and a connection between unlikely friends, just as it provided a network of expression for cold war Eastern European and Latin American artists, struggling with censorship. We will examine examples of the unique genre of mail art from the 1960's through today, viewing and working with online archives and Special Collections materials. Thus, students will expand their understanding of research methods in the humanities. Through familiarization with webs of artistic circulation, students will learn about subversive approaches to art distribution, alternative to mainstream and institution-sanctioned galleries. Readings will include semiotics, media and intermedia theory, and art manifestos.
For the practical side of the course, students will respond to works and artistic prompts by mail artists with their own intermedia creations. The final project will be a chance for students to design the concept for a chain of correspondence exchange, which reaches through aesthetic, social, political, or class boundaries. The goal will be to connect, through simple material exchange, pockets of society or culture that rarely coexist.