Mail Art Chro No Logy

Introduction to the Mail Art Chro-No-Logy[1] – a work in progress

We started to work on this online Mail Art Chro-No-Logy in 2015, elaborating the chronology of the international Mail Art network. The starting point of our editorial research was the collection of materials (works, project documentations, correspondence and other publications) which has been accumulated by György Galántai’s and Júlia Klaniczay’s creative and organizational activities mainly starting in 1979 with the foundation of Artpool. These materials in question have been systematized by the archivists working at Artpool Art Research Center.

On one hand as the founders’ main focus was quite related to Fluxus the big picture we draw for our Chro-No-Logy’s horizon has a fundamental touch of this movement so that it broadens up a bit wider when thinking of experimenting with the mail medium rather than only sticking with it as a mere medium. For this reason we also include Fluxus influenced projects using the postal system not explicitly categorized as Mail Art. As Ken Friedman put it: “By the end of the 1960's, a number of Fluxus people had begun to view mail-art as a medium offering unique potentials and challenges. They saw beyond the basic issue of art through the mail, and began to explore the reaches and media of correspondence and mail themselves.” [*]

On the other hand we prefer Galántai’s Ray Johnsonian approach towards Mail Art as our guideline: we bring the chronology more into the lights of a Correspondence Art related context. “Here the distinction is between reciprocal or interactive communication – correspondence - and unidirectional or one -way communication, mailed out without any requirement for response.” [*] According to this nature we choose the year 1962 as the starting point of the chronology. The year when Ray Johnson first initiated his series of mailings with instructions and also founded the New York Correspondance (sic) School (NYCS).

Against this background did suggest Galántai to quote one of Johnson’s collage as the title of our chronology. According to certain interpretations his work reflects on a rejection of linear time, a notion one can trace in his art. [**] Galántai was reminded of this collage (Chro-No-Logy) by the structure for publishing the Mail Art projects on this site. Even though we publish them in annual panels if you click on the year, you will find the events of that year listed alphabetically by title. By way of explanation let me add that in many cases we didn’t have exact dates for many projects that’s why an alphabetical sorting felt necessary.

Source [***]

Our collection had been complemented by various Correspondence Art / Networker archives donated to Artpool (by, among others, Gábor Tóth, Mario Lara, Patricia Collins, Pete Horobin, Klaus Groh and Peter Küstermann). On the other hand we leaned on the international Mail Art chronology published by John Held, Jr., listing projects from 1970 to 1985[2] as well as on the easy-to-use online Lomholt Mail Art Archive launched by Niels Lomholt in 2014.

The Move Your Archives (M.Y.A. 2016) project was announced by Vittore Baroni for the year of 2016; his project met with a warm response[3], and many former and current participants shared the most interesting parts of their archives through various forums and media[4]. In joining the project initiated by Baroni we announced our chronology also in 2016: we hope that artists and researchers interested in these fields are going to find it a good source for their works.

We kindly ask our visitors to send us materials missing from our chronology (and also from Artpool’s archive). We know about many past projects which we couldn’t include as except an invitation/call we have no documents about the realization of it.

We have already been in touch with a couple of artists since 2016. We’d like to thank the following networkers for helping us by sending missing documents and/or first hand informations for our research: Vittore Baroni, Paulo Bruscky, Leonhard Frank Duch, Luc Fierens, ha (on the DATA project by Pete Horobin), John Held, Jr., Alexander Hirka, Peter Küstermann, Larry Rippel, Herbert Rodriguez, Gábor Tóth, Chuck Welch etc.

For all those who participated at a certain point in the Eternal Networks movement we introduce now a Questionnaire at the top menu of this page. Networkers who will be so kind to fill out and send back to us are going to help us a lot focusing our research and to look up more materials in our archives.

We’d like to call your attention on two more sections of our site: the first being a list of related periodicals already posted in the Chro-No-Logy and the second being our reader section, which contains source texts from the examined period. These texts are going to be available both in English and Hungarian.
Viktor Kotun, Budapest, 2016-2024.

[notes about the sources]

[1] Compiled at Artpool Art Research Center by Viktor Kotun, peer review: György Galántai and Júlia Klaniczay, web design and editing: György Galántai, Márton Kristóf and Dániel Varga, text edited and published by Artpool Art Research Center, Budapest 2015–
[2] International Artist Cooperation: Mail Art Shows, 1970-1985, Dallas Public Library, Dallas, Texas, USA, 1986, 145 p. (Ed. by John Held Jr.)
[3] See the article of John Held Jr.
[4] See for example the blitz action organized by David Dellafiora
[*] Friedman, Ken: Mail Art History: The Fluxus Factor, in: Mail Art Then and Now, The Flue, Vol. 4, No. 3–4 (special issue), 1984 Winter, pp. 18–24.
[**] Zwirner, David: What a Dump, 2021, in:
[***] Ray Johnson: Untitled (CHRO NO LOGY), n.d., Ink on paper, 29,7 x 21 cm, Richard L. Feigen & Co, New York, reproduction found in a book available at Artpool’s archives (Robinson, Julia – Christian Xatrec (eds.): + - 1961, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2013, p. 246)

1962-1971 1972-1981 1982-1991 1992-2001 2002-2011 2012-2021
Mail Art Chro No Logy
1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971

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