When the medium is part of the message

By P.A. Sévigny on June 10, 2011

Canadian philosopher and media giant Marshall McLuhan would love this exhibition. Clean, modern and devoid of any kind of pretension, the art’s medium is just as important as the work hanging on the wall and none of it costs more than the price of a stamp and a walk to the nearest letter box.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Montreal artist Keira Parnell. As the curator of the new Mail-Art exhibition hanging in NDG’s popular Connexions Language School, Parnell said she had a great time putting together the eclectic mix of original postcards that makes up the show. “Once you get involved in the mail-art community, using the mail to send your work is just as important as getting one back.”

20110609_02.jpgDue to the fact Parnell receives mail-art from all over the world, she used the sender’s location as the only means by which she could organize the exhibition. Postcards sent as a classroom art project from a children’s school in Toulouse, France, offset several well-crafted collage pieces from Paris which owed a lot to Marcel Duchamp’s early surrealist work. While some of Parnell’s postcards owed a lot to Russian constructivist pieces which use print as an iconic visual medium, Parnell said the cards soon develop their own original narrative if both parties can maintain the energy and the intensity of their correspondence. After her own year-long experience in the growing mail-art movement, she has over 600 original pieces from 22 countries. While some of her pieces come from contemporary art stars such as Canada’s own Anna Banana, Parnell pointed out a few beautiful pieces that come from correspondents in Malaysia and Japan which must have cost its maker more than just a few hours of work.

“It’s not about big box art galleries,” said Parnell. “There’s nothing except a stamp between the artist and the work’s final destination. That’s why anybody and everybody can be a part of this….All you need is the desire to make art and a stamp.”

Should you want to join the movement, send your own original postcard to K. Parnell at P.O. Box 42085, Montreal, Qc, H2W 1A0 


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