Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Katalin Timár [Biography]
Theorizing Mail Art: Frameworks and Approaches


Exactly thirty years ago, I wrote my MA thesis on Mail Art while working at Artpool as an intern. I had a twofold aim. On the one hand, I intended to examine Mail Art from a strictly theoretical viewpoint in order to demonstrate its radicalism in comparison to neo-avant-garde artistic practices. On the other, discussing important characteristics of correspondence art, I wanted to show the deficiencies of contemporary Hungarian art theory that mostly formulated its arguments in dualisms which, in my view, were not apt to analyze such artistic practices as Mail Art. At the same time, contemporary debates about the reception of postmodernism in Hungary created a convoluted subtext for my arguments.

In the proposed paper, I would like to revisit my dissertation from 1990 and examine its thesis from the theoretical position I inhabit now. Thirty years ago, I was highly critical of the state of art theory in Hungary, yet I was not able to propose a framework for Mail Art that went beyond the existing schemes. (In that sense my ideas were also the products of my locality and university education.) I would very much like to give this endeavor a second try and propose a new theoretical account of this artistic movement.