Mask Over the Mask Mail Art show

Mask Over the Mask is a mail art project coming from Brescia, Italy, hometown of avant-garde, “neo dada” artist Guglielmo Achille Cavellini (GAC). Organized by Italian mail artist Pier Roberto Bassi, the project called for artists to print out a silhouette mask based on GAC’s face, then add a surgical mask in response to the COVID crisis, along with any other additions the artist chose. The mailing component of the project ended August 31, and received 501 works from 343 artists in 34 countries. I’m among these artists, having contributed 13 works (documented here), and I may boast that’s more than anyone else mailed in.

Needless to say, I went nuts over this mail art concept. My first pieces followed the prescribed format pretty closely, but then I found the above image of a pretty model on the beach in a magazine I was cutting up for the Gonch project. I realized the GAC face would fit perfectly in her arms. This is still my favorite piece among all those I created for this show: the model cradles Cavellini’s head so lovingly, and the goofy grin of the mask shows just how much he enjoys the attention! After that, I began seeing images everywhere that could accommodate the GAC mask. I found a giant photograph from the infamous 1960s Altamonte concert in an old issue of The Washington Post; pictures of a kangaroo and an emu in a book on Australian animals; and my own “Pere Ubu for President!” poster. I was goaded on by the opportunity to witness the latest arrivals to the show on the blog Bassi created. Each work was wonderful, and the mass of pieces, each bearing the absurd and profound GAC visage, seemed more and more wonderful as the numbers grew. As of this moment, the site has received 15,945 views, but half of those are probably mine as I revisited the site to obsessively review all the works.

And then I started to learn something about Cavellini. By chance, another mail artist, Adam Roussopoulos in Minnesota, found a copy of “Cavellini in California and Budapest” in a book sale. On the cover were two 1970s mail artists, Picasso Gaglione (editor of Stamp Zine) and Buster Cleveland, each wearing outfits covered in a Cavellini sticker. I managed to procure a copy of that book on the Internet, and a couple others. It turns out Cavellini was a rather radical artist who pioneered “self-historicization,” which involved performances where he wore white suits inscribed with his “life story” while writing his “life story” on naked women! He was also deeply involved in mail art, and was rather controversial in Italy for his supposed egotism. To me the guy seemed like a Johannes Baader style Dadaist–willing to go further out than anyone else to ridicule the status quo of the gallery system and its commercial deathgrip on the arts.

I had already felt that the “Mask Over the Mask” concept was arguably the best I’d ever seen for a mail art show. Founding it on a common element for all the works really unified it and allowed for the highlighting of individual artistic visions. It had something profound to say about individual responses to COVID and the isolation the pandemic imposed. And then there was the GAC connection, in which each work seemed to further extend the self-mythology propagated by Cavellini himself.

Here’s another of my favorite pieces for the show:

This one is possibly the weirdest:

In this one, I swear the guy struggling uphill with his Sissyphus-like burden is none other than David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame!

The artworks are scheduled for public exhibition in October in Brescia. Or you can view them all on the blogspot page!

Five vispo published in Word For/Word

Word For/Word is a journal of new writing in online and print on demand formats. Issue 37 was recently published, including a wide range of text and visual poetry, as well as an interesting article on “liminalism.” I’m pleased to be included with five visual poems with asemic elements, part of a series that represents a kind of diary from an extraterrestrial colony world. You can check it out here.

Ten pieces of asemic vispo published in Otoliths

The Southern Winter edition of Australian based online lit mag Otoliths, Issue #62, was released today. Every issue of Otoliths functions as an index or encyclopedia of the current streams and practitioners of the literary avant garde, and this one is no exception. As editor Mark Young writes: “It’s another lively issue with a mix of short story, review, photography, poetry, painting, & collage in a variety of styles, by an outstanding list of contributors, often in collaboration, from around the globe.”

I’m pleased to be represented in the mix with ten pieces of asemic visuals created last summer using a stash of junk I found on the street over the previous couple decades. You can check them out here.

“Milking an Elephant for Toothpaste in the Jungle” and one other poem published in Datura

A bilingual literary journal (texts in French or English) with outsider leanings, Datura just released its 12th issue today featuring poetry, rants, a book review, and interesting collages by Claudio Parentela. In France it’s available in print, online for rest of the world. The issue also includes two of my poems: “Milking an Elephant for Toothpaste in the Jungle” and “Sucking Soap on a Rope.” You can read them here.

Ten visual poems published in Utsanga

The June 2021 issue of online Italian literary journal Utsanga (#28) was released yesterday. As always, it presents a broad range of text and visual works from the international avant garde literary scene, encompassing asemic scripts, visual poems, video works, art installations, criticism, and extended literary modes. I’m pleased to be represented with another installment of my “Xtro diary” series, featuring tape sampled images and asemic writing. You can check it out here.

Nine pieces of visual poetry published in Otoliths

Otoliths #61, the southern autumn 2021 issue, was released today. It’s jam packed as always with great text, visuals and hybrid works from writers and artists from around the world, reflecting the broad range of literary experimentation in the current era. I’m pleased to be included with nine pieces of visual poetry with asemic elements from a series that seems like diary excerpts from an extraterrestrial colony world. You can check them out here.

“The Joys of Serf Culture” published in Mad Swirl

Mad Swirl is an online poetry and art journal based in Dallas, TX, showcasing lots of fun and funky writing and imagery. I’m pleased to be included again with my poem “The Joys of Serf Culture,” which was just released today. You can check it out here.

I’m also a contributing poet on the Mad Swirl site; you can find my page and the other poems they’ve published here.