With a silent explosion From the 50s onwards, mail art was pioneered by Ray Johnson and the New York Correspondance School, but it was also part of manifestations such as Fluxus, by Maciunas. As the name delivery, it is a movement in which the art fits inside an envelope or package that can be transported by mail. The possibilities are many and not just limited to letters or postcards. In Brazil, the movement began to take shape in the 60s.
Also known as postal art — a term that fell into disuse because it was reduced to just one of the things used, the postcard — the movement consists of an exchange of information, creation of networks and, at that time, a new medium for art. . One cannot be fooled into thinking that only works made on paper were sent by mail, but also objects, K7s tapes and videos, some even changing pieces of fabric from their own clothes. Artists looked for ways to tap into all five senses in what was sent to colleagues.
This movement “is no longer an “ism”, but the most viable way out that existed for art in recent years and the reasons were simple: anti-bourgeois, anti-commercial, anti-system, etc. in 1976 in the Jornal Letreiro, of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. For him, one of the national exponents of mail art, the movement was essential when it comes to breaking down barriers, either because it crosses physical borders by interconnecting artists from all corners of the planet or because there are “neither judgments nor awards for works”.
With a marginal atmosphere, since only those who receive and forward have contact with the works, mail art was closed to its agents, creating an intimate fluidity. In Brazil, the movement received a great tribute at the 1981 Bienal de São Paulo, where it had a space just to exhibit pieces produced in this flow, inviting artists from all over the world. The general curator of that edition was the critic Walter Zanini, who for some years already dedicated himself to highlighting the correct art in his speeches and writings. In a 1977 text for the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, he commented that it could not be “denyed that this activity triggers new communicational and structural situations for artistic language”.
Involved in research on marginal groups, such as Poema-Processo and Nervo Óptico, which have been exhibited at Galeria Superfície in recent years, the gallery's director, Gustavo Nóbrega, also dedicated himself to researching mail art, creating an interest in encouraging its circulation in the market: “The idea is to create a collector's look for it, in addition to publicizing and showing this production that was very important”.
During the last year-end vacation, Nóbrega took a trip to the Northeast to visit the studios of artists who participated in those activities, he points out the region as the cradle of the avant-garde of the movement. In São Paulo, he found very little material, “one, two or three little envelopes”, there he found works in droves, “giant files”. Mail art, which was even more popular with artists in Brazil around the 70s, was not assimilated as something commercial: “It was even anti-market”, he says. The works were exchanged between the artists themselves, institutions and galleries did not substantially integrate this into their collections. Even because, according to Gustavo, the artists themselves had no intention of selling these works.
The Surface represents Falves Silva, one of the names that most produced mail art. It was in Falves' studio that Gustavo found most of the works he brought with him to São Paulo. A priori, he intended to have an exhibition with only works from the movement, but he thought it would be a lot of information. Some of the works that passed through Nóbrega's research are in the gallery's current exhibition, entitled Novos Meios e Conceitualismo nos 70's. among others. Materials from the Karimbada collective as well as works from the Olho Mágico exhibition (1978) will also be included.