How did correspondence from Falling, Denmark find its way to Luddenham, Australia, I’m not quite sure.
The Mail Art Network was expanding all the time, very close to an explosion, during my active period as a Mail Art Networker (1970-1985).
The social and political situation in the 70’s called for an exchange of ideas, networking and contact across the continents was appealing. An extended discussion of a multitude of issues was needed-It was a question of freedom of speech in a democratic world, a voice from below, new ideas, more space, as simple as that.
There were a lot of participants in the network; it soon became impossible to respond to all mail.
Postcards, prints and stamps were circulated on the fast track of Mail Art, very soon a discussion around Junk Mail was raging and divided the waters in the early 70’s. The fast and spontaneous reaction as a part of Mail Art had to find its form.
To keep up contact and exchange with more than 5 – 10 correspondents; still producing something worthwhile and expecting a return of some quality, new production forms were needed. Some stuck to the postcard, others went on a social and political crusade, took up the conceptual torch or went the Fluxus/Dada way.
New ways and methods of communicating were explored, responding with photos, film, video, publications, artwork and letters. Many new medias were on the way in the 70’s, the photocopy; a new way of cheap, fast and easy printing, as well as film and photo becoming available at a reasonable cost influenced the means of communication.
The expansion of the Mail Art Network did follow a certain pattern, addresses were circulated, shows arranged, themes developed. The race, to expand and distribute the story of the world from below, was on. Mail Art Classic took form. English was the language, very important; many contacts ended due to the lack of language, especially problematic were contacts in East Europe and Latin America. Censorship was a part of life, especially anything with English words communicating west, were investigated.
My network included a close circle of correspondences: (see Correspondence A-Z) and a group of networkers that I would have liked to developed further: Vittore Baroni, Pauline Smith, Ewa and Andrzej Partum, Mohammed, Pawel Petasz Guy Bleus, Terry Reid, Leonhard Duch and many others.
Some parts of the Mail Art Network became a discussion club, exchanging views on social and political issues. This became one of the most interesting parts of the Mail Art Network, whether discussions were on the political situation in Latin America, East Europe or the Punk scene in LA. However this part of the network is almost lost, as the works ended up in different archives and only one part of the argument is preserved. Until the day when all archives becomes ONE, connected in one data file, there is no alternative but to look at the Mail Art work as ART, a sad situation!
My contribution to the Mail Art Network developed into LOMHOLT FORMULAR PRESS (1975-1985). Formulas were circulated and the Network was invited to respond to these formulas. Pat and Richard Larter responded to a Formula called “Exchangeable Photo” (examples of Pat and Dicks responses here and here)
The 70’s were full of strong and very direct protest against dictatorships and secretive governments in the west. Every country and city had it’s own militant fraction and demonstrations. It was the order of the day and many artists took part in this struggle.The work of Pat and Richard Larter was a part of this struggle; their bold and confrontational work was a part of western language and thinking in the 70’s.
Many artists used The Mail Art Network as a pre-social media communication form, commenting and comparing the social and political situation in their community.The Larter’s work was an integrated part of this network, quick responsive and very engaged in the Australian social and political situation, always with a very blunt edge. The Larter’s political work is very much in line with slogans, posters, pamphlets etc. from political activists on the left. Where the Larter’s stand out is their photographic work, it adds another dimension to the political work and creates an uneasy situation.
Photographs like Pat’s, are not unfamiliar in the art world. A number of female artists have used their body to demonstrate different points of view on the female agenda. But nobody was as sexual explicit as Pat Larter. Through all kind of poses and situations she demonstrates her point of view. Some poses include body paint and have a certain air of innocence; some are snapshots with a secret view of her private parts, others are very explicit with a demonic, challenging and confrontational look at the spectator, others are performance stills or group photos of dress up parties.The snapshot is the preferred medium, whether by choice or financial means. It adds a very intimate atmosphere between the artist and the spectator, you are invited into a private situation. It would be interesting to see these photos on a large scale!
The ambiguities of Pat’s photos are clear.
The photos of Pat are more than photos of Pat; they are investigations into the language of sexuality.They situate themselves amongst the Female artist of the period and should be seen in that context. I have no way to understand these photos in an Australian context, but would think her as a lonely bird on the continent. But I can say this: It is a question of what you see and what you think. Before you make up your mind or turn away, consider this:
The only realistic object in art is Freedom. A freedom to examine all aspects of life. Not only the light and pleasant side, but the darker side of life. The “truth” in art is to follow the complexity of life.In art you can put a spotlight on a wider perspective. Art is not a moral language. It is not media entertainment. Art is a spotlight on reality, you may not find it pleasant or entertaining, but it is here and you have to acknowledge this reality!
The most important aspect of Pats work was her attitude, she was not pointing fingers at, looking at, analysing or ridiculing anybody else, she put herself on stage as model for whatever point she wanted to make. She was exhibiting a sexual attitude with humour and self-confidence.