Imagine you get a letter, a real letter, delivered by a postman, like a hundred years ago. You feel the paper, the weight, you look at the envelope, the sender. There is a person, somewhere, who has thought of you, who has done physical work, designed an envelope, put together a content. There is a message for you!
There might be something written on a piece of paper, black and white, almost like it was carved in stone. A commitment to communicate with you. There is anticipation when opening. The surprise when discovering the content, your eyes fly over the text, the drawings. You read. you read again You think of the person who wrote to you, of the distance. And you feel connected. About space and time.
Around 1910, artists in Europe began to write letters to each other. Directly from artist to artist. The letters contained messages, small works of art, mostly small collages made of paper for reasons of cost and weight, tears from newspapers, sketches. Art passed from one artists hand to anothers. The goal was the connection, the message. No art market, no art dealer, no art gallery, no curator, no museum, no art historian: no money, no selection, no return.
For the artists of that time, Mail Art was a medium of communication and networking. At that time there was something like the secrecy of letters. Respect for others and their intimate, private opinions. The messages flew back and forth between the artists quickly and in large numbers. No censorship, highly political, against violence, totalitarianism, fascism, war and sceptical about science, politics and technocracy.
In the exhibition of the same title, visitors were invited to express their thoughts in writing and in pictures. It was an invitation to reconnect with the other after years of estrangement, to practice social bonding again, to try bravely and to enjoy the resulting dialogue.
For many years, the artists Nicole Bartels and Rolf Habel have been inviting people to a dialogue about happiness in Rheinbach near Cologne (Germany). There, too, it is always first and foremost about the will to express oneself, in words, images and gestures. As part of their Happiness project, they also offer guests the opportunity to draw and paint and create collages for the ARTSURPRISE project. A selection has already found its way into the black boxes from ARTSURPRISE .
In April 2023, some of these works were used as an opportunity to take a closer look at the topic of communication. Mail Art as an art form and as a movement in the art scene for over 100 years also forms a basis for this investigation. Embracing the creative expression of the unknown, continuing the message, showing readiness for dialogue, culminates in sending that message out to the world through the international art project ARTSURPRISE . And it is an invitation to the art lover to carry this message further.
As always, we will face the fragmentation of society after three years of mental alienation in one way or another, with faith, with superstition, with materialistic thinking, but maybe this time with something else, with culture. And the root of every culture is contemporary art.
The self-empowerment of the individual, without being assigned a role and the associated privileges, is and remains the starting point. And she begins to say something. Those who say dare. Watching, looking, attentive observation leads to inner balance, to resting in being.