Like the current exhibitions in the Bay Area that have explored the art of letterpress and the broadside, Post Haste at MacArthur b Arthur examines the history and the art arising from the US Postal Service and its infastructural decay since the advent of technology, which has replaced old-fashioned physical correspondence and direct human interaction with computers, and even simply the telephone. Featuring work by artists Calcagno Cullen, Alicia Escott, Nate Milton, Beverly Rayner, Elizabeth Ribera, Schuyler Robertson, Gabrielle Tigan and Patrick Wilson, Post Haste examines the role of such civic infrastructures in the digital age by looking at the United States Post Office as an analogy for the many changes since the emergence of more rapid, efficient means of communication and transmittal of information.
Rather than a showcase of “mail art,” which often subverts the ideals of the mail system, Post Haste’s strength lies in how it examines the structures of the USPS and mail correspondence within its own parameters, eloquently put by curator Jayna Swartzman as “vessels for the circulation of reified mores and their deviations be they cultural, commercial, interpersonal or governmental, or otherwise.” Themes of communication, the written word, distance and travel are explored, many times using mail-related mediums to consider what psychological and social traces the institution has left in its wake.
Beverly Raner‘s Home (In)security Blanket is a large construction of window envelopes made to look like tract homes within a suburban environment, their mass-produced, common construction echoing the window envelopes’ use for a mass mailing, multipurpose use. Coded by Gabrielle Tigan re-presents a collection of quotations from letters by famously separated lovers in postcard form. Tigan’s encryption code, like the lovers who know the significance of the space separating them, is based upon the distance the next letter is from the previous: ie. A is 1, P is 15 characters away from A, and E is 10 characters away from P, so APE would be “1-15-10.” Elizabeth Ribera’s Souvenir Dreams is a simple but incredibly impressive grand-scale installation of vintage postcards from the clever and witty to the touching and poignant. The work humbly illustrates the multitude of emotions, intentions, and kinds of communication sewn together by the postal service in its golden age.
Post Haste will be at MacArthur b Arthur through May 27, 2012