Artpool40 – Active Archives and Art Networks
International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center
February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest
Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy Hunter – Judit Bodor | Jasna Jakšić – Tihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann
Katalin Timár [Biography]
Theorizing Mail Art: Frameworks and Approaches
Exactly thirty years ago, I wrote my MA thesis on Mail Art while working at Artpool as an intern. I had a twofold aim. On the one hand, I intended to examine Mail Art from a strictly theoretical viewpoint in order to demonstrate its radicalism in comparison to neo-avant-garde artistic practices. On the other, discussing important characteristics of correspondence art, I wanted to show the deficiencies of contemporary Hungarian art theory that mostly formulated its arguments in dualisms which, in my view, were not apt to analyze such artistic practices as Mail Art. At the same time, contemporary debates about the reception of postmodernism in Hungary created a convoluted subtext for my arguments.
In the proposed paper, I would like to revisit my dissertation from 1990 and examine its thesis from the theoretical position I inhabit now. Thirty years ago, I was highly critical of the state of art theory in Hungary, yet I was not able to propose a framework for Mail Art that went beyond the existing schemes. (In that sense my ideas were also the products of my locality and university education.) I would very much like to give this endeavor a second try and propose a new theoretical account of this artistic movement.