History of modern art is also a history of manifestos. Nearly every art movement or ism in the 20st century had a manifesto, if not two or three. In the American artist Lon Spiegelman’s file we found this manifesto, apparently sent to Mogens Otto Nielsen’s “Send a piece of your nature” project.
With statements like ”Money and mail art don’t mix” Spiegelman (1941-2002) was one of the strongest speakers against the commercialization of art. Even though this manifesto might seem like a parody of the manifesto fetish among artists, there are many keywords that contribute to the understanding of mail art, for example that ”Spiegelists believe that the most profound statement has not yet been said” or that ”Spiegelists strive to originate the copy”. The first signifies a very idealistic and somewhat un-postmodern idea, the latter signifies one of the most important elements of mail art; that art should multiply, flourish, and spread out, much like a virus. This was a response to another kind of fetish, that of the original work of art as something made from a single, genius mind.
From Dadaism to Tourism: The manifesto’s “After Tourism Comes Spiegelmisim” text and rubber stamp is a pun on another famous rubber stamp in the mail art network: H.R. Fricker’s (CH) stamp “After Dadaism, Fluxism, Mailism comes Tourism”.
Fricker’s statement is seemingly a satirical pun on the counterculture and avant-garde consciousness within the mail art community, and it is one of many slogans, statements and axioms that constantly circulated in the network. The “School is over now” stamp refers to Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondance School founded in the early 1960s, and today regarded as the first mail art community.