P22 Mail Art
A correspondence between Daniel Farrell and Richard Kegler
PO Box 770 Buffalo NY 14213--------19 Irving St #3 Albany NY 12202
Between 1990 and 1996, over 200 pieces were sent to/from P22. From
altered junk mail to minimally cryptic addressing, Each piece has some purpose
to both test the post office and also keep an artistic discourse going between
its collaborators. The postal service almost always came through. Recently, because
of the desire to completely automate, even the slightest variations from standard
Postal Rules gets the piece either returned or lost forever. This page is a testament
to the golden age of P22 postal art. Mail Art has no commercial value. To our
knowledge, none of our mail art has ever sold.
Of the more noteworthy pieces:
With Care-This 4" x 5" piece was actually a sheet of glass sandwiched between
a piece of copper screen and a piece of mylar. Fully expecting a shattered piece
at the end, the Post Office gingerly delivered this fragile specimen intact. As
with most of the P22 mail art pieces, the stamps are thematically relevant.
The Concrete piece- While in the end, this piece was lost,
it did survive a few trips across New York State. Steel re-enforced concrete is
one of the most durable building materials. By all rights it should also stand
up to the rough and tumble world of the postal system. Indeed it was sent from
Albany to Buffalo, re-stamped and mailed to Albany. With a return address to Buffalo.
It was returned in Buffalo with a sticker stating"unmailable" right next to the
postmark from when it was originally mailed from Albany. It finally did make it
to Albany again, but only to linger in the postage-due bin too long! It was thrown
The Big Orbit Gallery piece.- Entered by Dan Farrell into an open competition,this piece was never picked up after the show ended. Over a year later, the piece was still hanging for sale in the Big Orbit Gallery Shop, credited to Richard Kegler. We are not sure if anyone ever bought this Kegler forgery. This techniques used on this piece were Kegler trademarks, however the photobooth shot of a grimacing Farrell hidden in this paper and paint collage is the giveaway. This piece began a forgery war between Kegler and Farrell. Beware!
Bomb Scare- In the dormant days of the Unabomber, the post office was still
diligent. A quart paint can with a couple of inches of dried white paint and assorted
radio parts stuck inside the bottom was enough reason to receive a call from the
Postal bomb inspector, who in turn hand delivered the piece. Perhaps the large
red menacing letters: "NOW", wrapped around the can added to the questionability
of good natured mail. Humor was not part of this mans job! We promise never to
do this again.
The Recycler As a test of the durability of an envelope and
how many stamps can be affixed to one, several pieces we repeatedly sent back
and forth from Albany to Buffalo. Layer upon layer of stamps, cancellations and
friendly reminders from the post office to not re-use envelopes created a variety
of collage elements that could only be created through random unwitting assistance
from the USPS.
The Dilemma Box- One rule as we understood it was that it
was a federal offense to open mail that is not address to you. The dilemma was
a clear box with a sliding top. The stamps were placed in plain view on the bottom
inside of the box amidst other collage elements. Would the postal worker open
the mail to cancel it? yes. No one was hurt, but A federal law was broken!
Head-Still talked about by postal employees since its arrival at the West
Side station in Buffalo NY. This fragile, life-size paper cast of an entire human
head arrived completely intact. Each stamp was canceled, and the nostrils were
mysteriously colored in with a black marker. The deathlike head
cast is of a living man named David Roode, whereabouts unknown.
The Lost/Damaged Pieces-
A paint stirrer with the words "The Unabomber killed mail art" has never arrived
Several pieces have arrived in a plastic bag stating:
Some actually were damaged. Some were exactly as they were mailed.
The Fake Stamps- An envelope almost covered in Music club
stamps, magazine stamps, Christmas seals, but not one actual US postage stamp
comes through, each one canceled!
The Toast Card-This was going to be the thing that put us
on the map! A piece of polyurethane impregnated toast with a stamp and an address.
Everyone would want one except for the fact that we couldn't get it under one
ounce. So for economical reasons you cannot buy one of these at your local stationery
The Changer- A board with a wheel that features several addresses that can change en-route. Stamps can also be rotated to reveal the proper postage
The Four Corners- Looking at a map, the Four most remote regions of the United States were chosen and four postcards were sent to fictional addresses, with a P22 address as the return address....
The Tribe- While skimming through a National Geographic
magazine, I came across an extremely remote tribe in Africa that had a couple
of westerners living amongst them. Wondering how it must be to keep in touch
with your friends when you are in such a remote place. I sent a letter to Dr.
Daniel Farrell c/o the tribe in the article.( Doctors always get more respect
than laymen so I figured this one has a chance) I put Dan's real return address
on the envelope and several months later it came to him, marked "undeliverable,
no such person at this address". Afterwards I wondered what a diligent mailman
might have gone through to deliver that letter? I felt sort of guilty.
The Camera-As a truly interactive effort, a disposable camera was mounted to a card with the instructions to Postal employees to take photos of their fellow employees while this piece was en-route. Only a few pictures came out. I think they forgot to use the flash!
Since postal regulations have become stricter, postal rates have increased, and Dan has moved back to Buffalo, this seven year project is now official ended
The P22 Mail Art Gallery features a few of our favorite postal collaborations.
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