CHill: When Xerolage first appeared in the 1980s, there were
many small press magazines publishing visual poetry and xerox art--Kaldron, Photostatic, Lost & Found Times, Score, Generator, among them. Whatwould Xerolage add to that body of work?
MAnd: That's a long time back to remember but I should point out that the phrase visual poetry was not in such wide circulation in the early 80s & there were many, many ideas circulating about what follows concrete poetry. My own approach included prose, poetry, typography & visuals so I favored calling work my work & the work of others visual/verbal literature, a term that I liked because it seemed more inclusive than visual poetry. Xerolage comes out of wanting to make the space to focus on single author works that were created for a specific magazine format. One that was particularly easy to reproduce on a copier. So many things have been fit into that frame: copy art, mail art, collage, visual & concrete poetry, scores, found, graphism, conceptual.
CHill: Though the term visual poetry indeed was not in wide circulation (not even in a wet dream at Poetry Magazine), the above mags would have been using it. SCORE used the term in its first issue, 1983. I agree that the term visual/verbal literature works is inclusive of visual poetry, and thus also including prose with visuals as well, e.g. your "Erotic Logic" and much of Michael Helsem's work.
Some Qs bouncing off your answer above: Mail art may have been at its peak in the 1980s, projects including all that you mentioned above for Xerolage--copy art, collage, visual/concrete poetry, scores, found art, and conceptual art--How did you see Xerolage speaking to, interacting with, mail art? What was Xerolage attempting to do that mail art was not doing? Or, what do you want to do more of that mail art was doing?
mIEKAL: In the 80s one didn't have to seek mail art out, it just appeared at the door, solicited, unsolicited, surprising & not. Even back then there were 2 streams as far as I was concerned. One stream was the garbage in garbage out school, mostly recycling images of popular media such as Reagan, Nixon etc & I have always found that work wearisome. The other stream was a fascinating network of artist / poets mostly working in isolation, many of them from eastern bloc countries, who had to devise ways to even get their mail out of the country. While a lot of this work was piggybacked on the Fluxus movement, it was remarkably fresh & alive (I'll avoid the use of the word original), constantly changing & growing, & in my mind consciously created for the network of viewers who were receiving these packages. In that sense, the work was offered, not to a random audience, but to an energetic collective of like-minds, many whom are still in contact with each other 30 years later. So while the content was / is always important to me, the mode of transmission lent an air of person-to-person value. When the internet came along, a lot of mail art stopped being interesting in the same way, because suddenly there was a whole new way to get one's work around. It has always been a little mysterious to me that it took so many folks 10-15 years to make that switch.
Xerolage has never been identified with movements or genres as such. It has always been about creating a frame to see the work of single artists alongside of some sense of who they are as a person, because I have always believed the person & the work go hand-in-hand. I also have been committed to questioning what visual poetry can be by selecting work & artists that would never think of themselves as visual poets yet their work navigates the same proximity.
Chill: I’m intrigued by your statement that you believe the person and the work go hand-in-hand. Tell me more? How does the person and the work go hand-in-hand in a Xerolage issue such as Vittore Baroni’s “Sangue Misto” (Xerolage 7) or Greg Evason in his issue (Xerolage 12).
Awaiting an answer from mIEKAL.