Raiders of the lost artefacts

Sometimes it feels like archaeology when you are digging your way through a mail art archive. When examining the Pocket Museum you’re browsing through small parchment envelopes with old stuff in them: tickets, pictures, letters and notes, coins, keys, and other kinds of cultural artefacts. In this way, the Pocket Museum is both a work of art and a piece of material culture, not very different from finding an ancient coin in the ground and putting it on display as the remains of something lost.

When reviewing a mail art exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York art critic Kasha Linville noted that “it seems a shame to catch such a living thing, to pin it down.” (source). That is a recurrent thought when cataloguing art of this nature, but each object is a small puzzle to the story, and just like the archaeologist digging in the dirt, the archivist collects the remaining pieces in an effort to piece together the whole story, only to find out that other important pieces are missing.

 

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