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Miroljub Todorović


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PLANETARY COMMUNICATION

(My mail art activities from 1970. to 1987.)

I have been dealing with mail-art since about 1970. when I was mostly engaged in poetical-visual research and was in permanent contact with a number of artists and poets from all over the world.
One of the first mail-art major actions was registered in the journal Signal No. 2/3 in the following way: "Miroljub Todorovic: SIGNALIST MANIFESTATION 1), 20.3.1971, Belgrade.(1)
New type of communication. Basic element of communication is the punched (used) card for an IBM computer. Name of the sender, date and place of the information source, its name and indication are typed on the blank back of the computer card by a typewriter. Thus prepared card is put in an envelope and sent to the consumer by post.
"Names of 63 artists, galleries and publishers from abroad are cited as receivers of the first signalist manifestation. Among others, A. de Campos, C.Padin, M.Perfetti, J.Valoch, J.Blaine, J.Gerz, Sarenco, E.Miccini, E.Jandl, P.Garnier, M.Bense, S.J.Schnidt, B.Cobbing, D.Higgins, Ben Vautier, Art Intermedia, etc. have received such a communication computer card.(2)
The card was sent to thirty Yugoslav poets, critics and scholars: Dušan Matic, Marko Ristic, Oskar Davico, Petar Dzadzic, Eli Finci, Radomir Konstantinovic, Branimir Donat, Sveta Lukic, Novica Petkovic, Tomaz Brejc, Boza Bek, Taras Kermauner, Zelimir Košcevic, Veselin Ilic etc.
I did not note responses to these letters, neither can I remember any of them at this moment, although I am certain there have been some.
I repeated similar mail-art actions the same year and later. Circle of potential consumers changed, broadened or narrowed. Used punched cards of different colors and of standard dimensions were applied all the time. Interventions on the cards were most frequently made by a marker. Punched positions were encircled or some words or messages written, several times the word SIGNALISM appeared, or later on the message: THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM.
I remember a series of cards on which I pasted small rectangular photographs of teeth, which I had obtained quite an amount of from the dental clinic in Ranke street. Computer cards with coloured stickers bearing pictures of animals, from prehistoric dinosaurs, through fishes, birds, mammals, all the way to our direct ancestor - the anthropoid monkey were also interesting.
I started working on an artist book at the beginning of 1972. (3) This action and the book itself were described in the last volume (8/9) of the review Signal as follows:"
Miroljub Todorovic: FORTRAN (signalist book), Belgrade, February 1972. Signalist book FORTRAN is made of six, white used (punched) computer cards in 47 copies. Already cited data (name of the author, title of the book and the date of publishing) are on the first card. The next four cards are filled with marker interventions. Interventions are identical. Stamp of Signal is on the back of the last page with the signature of the author, ordinal number of the book and the total number of copies produced. The signalist book FORTRAN was sent to the following artists, artistic archives, galleries and editorial boards: Clemente Padin, Hans Clavin, Edgardo Antonio Vigo, Jiri Valoch, Julien Blaine, Jochen Gerz, Sarenco, Galleria Sincron, David Briers, G.J. de Rook, Michael Gibbs, N.Zurbrugg, Bob Cobbing, "Art Media", Edition Kimmel, Ben Vautier, J.Van der Wolk, Janos Urban, Klaus Groh, Guillermo Deisler, Stedelijk Museum, Hans Werner Kalkmann, "Ganglia", Archille Bonito Oliva, "Grab Grass", Nachl Nucha, Alvaro de Sa, Archiv Sohm, Bukowski, Marc Poinsot, Horst Trees, "Pfirsich", "Avalanche", Joseph Kosuth, Carl Andre, Paul Berry, Josepf Beuys, Jan Dibbets, Allain Kirili, Richard Long, Sol Lewitt, Peter Kenedy, Janez Kocijancic, Franci Zagoricnik, Boda Markovic and Dobrivoje Jeftic."
A number of artists reacted to the book.(4) I empasise post cards sent by Richard Long on April 27. 1972 from Bristol and Joseph Beuys who sent his post card Fluxus Zone West: Joseph Beuys BRD, Fluxus Zone West: Ken Friedmann USA, Edition Hundrtmark, Berlin, with the well-known stamp Fluxus Zone West and the following text:
"Dear Todorovic,
Many thanks for your small signalist book
Y.S. Joseph Beuys".
Janez Kocijancic, poet from Novi Sad, reacted by reproducing a copy of FORTRAN (No.24/47) as a "Special Edition" in his column "U-R" in INDEX, journal of students from Vojvodina, No. 246, March 23. 1972. A short note with bibliography data was published beneath the reproduced pages of this book.
Kocijancic gives the following information in the same column "U-R" of the next volume of INDEX:
"Not long ago, the newest (signalist) book FORTRAN (name of one of the computer languages) by Miroljub Todorovic appeared in Belgrade. Miroljub produced 47 copies of the book, and then distributed them to his 47 friends throughout the world. Every copy consists of six used computer cards with poets marker interventions. In the previous edition of "U-R" you had the opportunity to see one of the unique copies, reproduced in a number of copies equivalent to the circulation of "Index".
"In the same year 1972, I produced my first stamp with the same message which I used to write: THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM.(5) Apart from this message which I impressed by my own stamp on my communication post cards and letters, along with other (official) stamps of the review SIGNAL, Signalist Documentation Centre, Signalist Artists’ Society, I used it for creating different visual forms, in which its basic message lost or gained in intensity.(6) Two works created in those rather exciting stamp games appeared later in the proceedings STAMP ART,(7) edited by a Dutch poet and investigator, G.J. de Rook in Amsterdam.
In March 1972, a text named "Cosmic hieroglyphs" about the flight of American space ship "Pioneer 10" whose mission was to investigate the Asteroid Layer and the planet Jupiter, was published in newspaper Politika. According to predictions "Pioneer 10" was supposed to pass by Jupiter in December 1973. and emit new data about this giant mysterious planet to scientists. After the emission, which, as we know, was successfully completed, the space ship started its flight deep into the Universe leaving the Solar system behind. "Pioneer 10" carried the first human interstellar message for beings from other worlds. This coded "cosmic letter" was engraved on a gold coated aluminum plate, which, as scientists believed, would endure a flight lasting a hundred million terrestrial years or interstellar distance of 3000 light years.
I considered the text in Politika which included a drawing of the coded "cosmic letter" ideal for further continuation of my personal (mail-art) actions, especially for its coincidence with my earlier interests within the framework of signalism (scientism, natural sciences, planetary art, cosmology). I copied it a few times by a photocopier and printed it by offset technique (lithography) on A4 format paper. This text soon replaced computer cards in my communication within international communication network which I joined. A photocopy of the text was sent to different artists, galleries and archives, for numerous exhibitions, sometimes without any intervention and most frequently with interventions.(8) Interventions in fact consisted of encircling certain words in the text, those which seemed to me to be key words, such as: space ship, star, hieroglyphs, Jupiter, first, hydrogen, Earth, origin, generator, message, thus, Sun, infinity, marked, cells, signal, decoding, uncertain, beings, etc. I connected frequently thus encircled words by straight lines with the lifted hand of the man whose picture was on the coded letter. A radial, verbal-visual constellation was created, rather impressive for me, full of meanings, which was somewhat different in every achievement because different words were encircled and by different ways (lines) assembled in the focus of the man's hand.
A series of these texts with interventions, which besides the existing title Cosmic hieroglyphs got another indication Signalist Project, was the framework of my first mail art exhibition Signalist Research 1 (communication - eye) in the gallery of the Students Centre In Belgrade from February 26 to March 9 1973.(10) Apart from this project, photocopies of letters, envelopes and other selected mail material which I received in the period from 1970 to 1973 were exhibited along with photocopies of flight itineraries of German airlines company Lufthansa. The whole project, including a medical description of the eye as one of the basic communication organs, I named “Total Communication”. On the occasion of the exhibition, in this sense I also wrote a manifesto which was published in the catalogue titled COMMUNICATION-ENTITY-THOUGHT.
According to the attitudes expressed in the manifesto: ”Communication is at the very basis of the entity. It is an element and the fact of its existence. A positive measure of its pace and growth from primary, rudimental to the powerful planetary consciousness. I communicate, thus I exist, therefore I create. The essence of communication is ambiguous in the deepest sense of the word. It is social-historical and exact, and artistic and subjective in its most intimate, most human aspect. Its means are the levels of civilization. Communication is the basis and nourishment of human discoveries.”(11)
This Manifesto shows the significance I attribute to communication (i.e. to mail-art as art, which directly emerges from certain communication models), since I consider it to be the basis of almost all research during the past twenty years in painting and even literature.I printed a series of eight postcards in the beginning of 1973. Almost all of them contain works from broadly taken field of signalist research. Those are: Anagrams 1968 (visual poetry), Lunometre 1969/70 (verbal-visual poem), Alphabet 1969/70 (visual poem), Gordian Knot 1971 (gesture poem), and Signalist Manifestation 1971 (gesture poetry). Cosmic Hieroglyphs were reproduced with the following project interventions on the card: encircled words connected with the man’s hand by straight lines are given as photonegatives, so that the text, coded letter, drawing of a man and a woman, and the interventions are shown on black “cosmic” background, which thus underlines the character of this cosmic informative communication operation. Mail-art work Communication made by collage technique and photocopying international mail coupons was published in 1972. The sign “Signal”, i.e. the emblem of Signalism with a short information about the Signalist Documentation Centre is printed on the last (eighth) card. The series appeared in about 5000 copies (cards).(12)
In the beginning, the post cards were sent most frequently together with the previous material of the Signalist Project: Cosmic hieroglyphs , and they were in this way exhibited on exhibitions and reproduced in proceedings, catalogues and anthologies of conceptual art, visual poetry and mail-art as: LA ESCRITURA EN LIBERTAD, by Ferdinand Millan and Jesus Garcia Sanchez, POST DOCUMENTS(13) by Juna Muzukami etc.
In the course of the following years, at certain time intervals, I sent series of my postcards to artists, writers, scholars and public persons in our country and abroad. The stamp with the message THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM was most frequently stamped on each card. Some of the sent cards returned, mostly for the wrong or changed address of the receiver. The post regularly stamped its official stamp on the returned mail. This gave me the idea for a mail-art action named Unsuccessful Communication, which I went into much later.
Interest for mail-art suddenly increased in the world about 1976/77. Visual poetry slowly disappeared. Even the last significant journals specialized in this branch were disappearing. Conceptual art drowned into statistical documentation of its own material and ideas, in bizarre language tautology. Mail-art appeared suddenly as a “fresh and lively framework for certain artists”, a new motive power which started gathering all the energy of restless, investigative and unconventional spirit.
In the period from 1971 to 1978(14) , based on mail-art and artistic communication on the whole, I established closest co-operation with German artist Klaus Groh and his I.A.C. (International Artist’s Corporation), who had for several years already published INFO (Information Bulletin) with most significant contemporary information, connecting in this way a great number of artists from many countries.
Groh published my second artists book (bookwork) within his well known edition Art Booklets .
This was a small book, format 7.5/10.5 cm, in fact a A4 format paper folded eight times so that it has 16 pages with the “covers”. Klaus Groh published more than fifty such booklets by visual poets, mail-artists, conceptualists and other researchers in the wide space of art.(15) Mine, entitled APPROACHES appeared under number 25, in 1973.
Fourteen scientific symbols which are applied in physics and mathematics were written on the pages of APPROACHES with a marker. The book begins with the symbol of approximation (flow) and finishes with the symbol of infinity.
Reviewing the whole edition of Art Booklets in London journal Art and Artist’s the critic David Zack(16) noted in September 1974:
“Miroljub Todorovic’s Approaches is one of several masterpieces in the I.A.C. series. It signals artists, which is to say individuals, approaching their goal, points out pitfalls, and concludes Entropy equals infinity.”
Besides postcards, in 1973 I published two more mail-art posters with the same title Communication in offset technique.(17) On one of them are maps of central parts of the following cities with main roads: Vienna, Sofia, Budapest, Athens, Bucharest and Rome, while on the second there is again the American space ship “Pioneer 10” in the foreground. But, besides the drawing of the “Pioneer” and the “cosmic letter” there is a visual representation of the whole itinerary of the aircraft from the Earth through the Solar System near Jupiter and Saturn towards outer planets and cosmic infinity.
Numerous photocopies of official post stamps published previously in our newspapers with high circulation on the occasion of significant philatelist editions, or representations of the post or postal system should certainly be added to the mentioned works. For example: “Yugoslavia 1972”, stamps with cosmic motives in the world, and similar. I have also copied and distributed one page of the American journal Playboy with posters reduced to the size of a stamp bearing the advertising text “Mail coupon today”. On all of these photocopies, besides the name and address, I added only the words: Communication or mail-Art.
I started producing my own stamps towards the end of 1978. Up to now few series with different motives were produced: parts of maps, postal coupons, countenance of the author, circling of a satellite or flight of a rocket around the Earth, surface of the Moon, a clipping of the “cosmic letter” (few variations), series of pictures of poets, scientists, statesmen and cosmonauts, radiation, picture of electron movement in the atom, picture of the globe with continents, etc. Most frequent inscriptions and messages on the stamps were: Signalist Post, Signal, Communication, Think about Signalism, Signalist Poetry, The Moon Sign, Trip to Starland, Communication, Signal Art, Mail-Art, Think about Mail-Art, etc. Most of these stamps were published in a few volumes of the French journal DOC/K/S.(18)
I producing whole series of postcards out of smaller pieces of cardboard, dimensions were 10.5/15 cm, as required by postal rules. These cards were unique (one copy of each) with different names and messages such as: THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM, READY MADE POETRY, with collages on both sides except for the space for the address of the receiver.(19) I put official and my own stamps on these post cards and sent them by mail. Some of them are mentioned by Polish poet and critic Julian Kornhauzer in his PhD thesis SIGNALISM-PROGRAM OF SERBIAN EXPERIMENTAL POETRY, chapter Stylistic Approach to Signalist Poetry (“... 17 post cards the author of which is Miroljub Todorovic, each with a title of the work, some with stamps given by the author, all addressed to me...”).(20)
In February 1979, I finally achieved previously conceived mail-art action “Unsuccessful Communication”. I sent my post cards (series printed in 1973) with the basic message THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM to a few domestic poets, writers and critics dead long ago, to two leaders from the time of the First and the Second Serbian Uprising, and two living outstanding writers. The cards were mailed as registered mail, some of them as urgent. The addresses were arbitrary, of course, but there was a “system” in it, too.
A registered post card was sent to Djura Jaksic with the address Skadarska number 47. Besides two ordinary stamps another appropriate one was sealed with a reproduction of his famous painting. This stamp,(21) at least twice as big as the ordinary ones, with nominal value of 1.20 para did not have any title, but Djura Jaksic was printed in its upper right corner in clear, large gold letters. The card was mailed (according to a rather visible stamp) on February 10, 1979. It was returned to me after two days (February 12) with the postal stamp -inconnu . The postman even wrote with a ball pen, above the stamp: “In Skadarska 47 unknown”, put the date 12. II. 79 and signed it.
A registered card was also sent to the poet Vojislav Ilic on 9.2.1979 from Belgrade Post office 6, to the address Makedonska street number 30. The next day, a postman noted on the upper part of the card: ”10.II 79 unknown, mark with whom he lives” (assuming probably that a subtenant was involved), and signed. A stamp inconnu (underlined) was put below everything and signed. The card was returned to me on February 13 by morning mail.
An urgent, registered post card with a message “think about Signalism” was sent to Dr Milan Skerlic addressed to Milana Rakica street number 17 on 10.II 1979. Since he could not find him, the postman stated in the upper left corner of the card: ”Delivery attempted, according to statements of tenants, unknown - 11.2.79 at 11.10 h” (signature).
A card for Bora Stankovic was addressed to Knez Mihajlova street 14. An appropriate stamp was sealed, with the picture of the writer and label Bora Stankovic 1876-1976 . Above it was written in Cyrillic alphabet “Centenary of Birth”. A stamp produced in the mean time “SIGNALISM 1959-1979 think about signalism” to mark the anniversary, was stamped only on the postcard mailed to this writer. The card returned on February 12 with the already customary mark: unknown.
A post card with a reproduced part of a signalist poem called Alphabet and the message THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM, was mailed to Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj in Laza Kostic Street number 4 in Novi Sad. It was returned a couple of days later with a big stamp, which occupied more than half of the available space left for writing. The stamp differed from those on previous cards, because it comprised a variety of reasons for which mail could not be delivered. It was not only stated that the receiver is unknown-inconnu. First of all, it was written return - retour in the upper part of the stamp in somewhat bigger letters. Beneath this, the following words were written in two columns - left in Serbian and right in French: unknown, moved, does not receive, on a trip, does nor exist, deceased... I could not make out the last two words because of illegible printing. A small square is placed between the Serbian and French words for the postman to encircle or mark in some other way, showing thus the reason which prevented him to deliver the mail. It is interesting that on this card the postman marked the square related to moved-demenage and signed over it.
A post card with a reproduction of gesture poem Gordian Knot was sent to Laza Kostic, the founder of modernism in our poetry. The address on the card was Jovana Jovanovica Zmaja street, number 7, also in Novi Sad. The number of registered delivery on it was 768. On February the twelfth the card was returned to me with the stamp differing from the one on the postcard sent to Zmaj. The stamp was smaller, the letters quite smeared, difficult to read. There were no more words in French, (on the other hand, Laza knew French, he even wrote his secret diary of dreams and love cravings for Lenka Dundjerski, dead for some time already, in this language). Contents of the stamp: upper part in bigger letters: RETURN, beneath this in two series: does not exist, unknown, on a trip. Second series: deceased, left... I could not decipher the third word. There were two more statements beneath everything: Incomplete address and Does not exist any more. The postman marked the square referring to unknown and signed, probably as required by rules.
A card was mailed to Milos Obrenovic with the address Karadjordjeva street number 6, and another one to Karadjordje Petrovic with the address Miloseva street number 32, both streets in Belgrade. I unintentionally wrote the wrong name of the street in the second case. Instead of the official name of the street Kneza Milosa, I put Miloseva ( name Milosa Velikog is in everyday use as well), possibly led by the street which got its name for Karadjordje without stating his title - “Leader”?. The card was mailed as urgent and registered. At 32 Kneza Milosa street, the postman established that Karadjordje Petrovic was unknown on 11.II 79. The same day another postman tried to deliver the post card to Karadjordje at 32 Miloseva street. His statement was: “Delivery attempted, does not refer to Miloseva”, signature.
Signalist post cards could be delivered neither to: Vladislav Petkovic Dis at 36 Baba Visnjina, Milorad Sapcanin at 3, Aberdareva street nor to Sima Milutinovic Sarajlija at 28 Njegoseva street, all in Belgrade.A registered card was sent to Augustin Ujevic at 87 Ilica 87 in Zagreb, returned with a stamp similar to the one on the card mailed to Laza Kostic. The postman marked the square beside the word unknown by a green ball pen and additionally underlined the word itself. Since the stamp on the card for Tin is clearer than on the card sent to Laza, I could now read easily (decipher) the third reason (in the second series) for not having the mail delivered. It said: DID NOT SEARCH.(21)
After “Unsuccessful Communication”, some time in spring 1979, I came to the idea to offer a selection of mail-art, which would include theoretical texts beside works, to one of our journals (Delo and Koraci had priority). This idea was accepted by Muharem Pervic editor-in-chief of Delo , so that I soon set out to do it. By mid May I had already made an invitation letter in English, printed and sent 300 copies. In this letter framed by my artistic stamps, I demanded artists to send me their works concerned with mail-art: catalogues, books, bibliographies, as well as theoretical texts. I emphasized that I was working on a voluminous anthology of mail-art which would appear in journal Delo. I mentioned at the end that the received material would be presented at the exhibition titled THINK ABOUT MAIL ART. (I counted here on the Happy Gallery at the Students Cultural Centre).
By the end of May already, first packages for the anthology began to arrive. Among those first sparrows were Pawel Petasz, from Poland, a known mail-artist, founder of the Commonpress international mail-art journal and Guillermo Deisler from Chile now living in exile in Bulgaria. Soon afterwards, Klaus Groh, Sarenco, Daniel Daligard, Michelle Perfetti, Eugenio Miccini, Jacque Lepage, Ulises Carrion, G.A. Cavellini and others wrote to me.
During the entire summer an almost unbelievable amount of avant-garde journals, letters, post cards, original works of variable forms and sizes, photos, artists books, stamps and similar material arrived. Among others, the following artists wrote to me and sent their works: Romano Peli, Adriano Spatola, Timm Ulrich, E.F. Higgins, Dick Higgins, Endre Tot, Ray Johnson, Toshiro Saito, Carl Andre, Julien Blaine, Gino Gini, Lon Spegeman, Lamberto Pignotti, Ben Vautier (who sent plenty of catalogues and material of the group Fluxus, apart from his works), Vittore Baroni, Clemente Padin, S.J. Schmidt, Anna Banana. American Ken Friedmann, along with his works sent a huge package of catalogues, books, manifestos, photocopies of newspaper articles and reviews, copied material from which a whole study about American after war avant-garde, fluxus and conceptual art could have been made.
The invitation letter titled “Think about Mail-art” was published in extenso in one of the summer volumes of the Canadian artistic journal Parallelograme, in the column “Classified Abroad”. The invitation was also published in the American journal Art monthly and in some English art magazines as well. I have learned about this from the letters of some authors, who refer to these magazines, and some of them, like for example Mike Dyar from San Francisco, who, along with his works, sent a clipping from a newspaper (journal) in which he read about my invitation for the anthology and exhibition without mentioning the name of the newspaper (journal) in question.
All that voluminous material had to be arranged and a selection made. Selection had to be rigorous, because it turned out that this time I had only eight to nine sheets (16 pages each) at my disposal instead of over 200 pages which I had in Delo number 3, March 1975, when I published the Anthology of Concrete, Visual and Signalist poetry. This significantly changed and deranged my original vision of this project.
Anthology of mail-art was delivered to the editorial board of the journal about the beginning of January 1980. Meanwhile, the idea to exhibit the received material in the Happy Gallery of the Students’ Cultural Centre within the framework of the planned exhibition THINK ABOUT MAIL-ART failed to develop. Delo was quite late, and I thought that the selection would appear in its December volume (previously agreed on November volume was already in print). But, as it often happens, there was a little delay and postponing and the anthology was finally published in the February 1980 volume of Delo.(22)
Publishing of this volume has contributed quite a lot to bring mail-art, as a new and challenging artistic field, closer to our artists who, owing to works and numerous theoretical contributions, could comprehend the significance, seriousness and breadth of mail-art which successfully avoids all the possible barriers of language, nationalism, ideology. Direct result of the appearance of the anthology was an increased interest in mail-art, the fact that a few of our artists joined the international communication network, starting new actions, exhibitions, mail journals, bulletins, etc.(23)
Publishing of my new bookwork Signal Art was the next project, which marked the beginning of my continuous mail-art activity. This booklet appeared in November 1980 as a signalist edition in 77 copies and it is in line with my previous artists book. Although mostly mail-art works are reproduced in it, the book was made by a printing, silk-screen technique which greatly corrupted the original and on the other hand, under a new graphic tension, acquired certain properties of the original, i.e. its “originality and uniqueness”.(24)
Besides pages printed by silk-screen technique Signal Art included one photocopy sealed on the next to the last cover page. In fact, the text What is mail-art - mail-poetry? , published in my column “Information” in the newspaper Knjizevna rec in 1979, was photocopied here. Prints of the stamp THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM and THINK ABOUT MAIL-ART are found on a certain number of copies.
It is interesting that this book was a subject of polemics which I had with young poet Branko Cegec from Zagreb. Being insufficiently informed, having a rather amateur view of mail-art and after-war avant-garde in general, this poet poured malice on Signal Art in journal Oko.(25) There was nothing left for me to do but oppose sharply this ignorance united with malice and transparent conceit under the mask of avant-garde and so-called radicalism.(26)
My one-man exhibition titled MAIL-ART took place in Happy New Art gallery of SKC in Belgrade From May 21 to 31 1981. A small exhibition area caused rather strict selection of works. Central place was taken by the “Unsuccessful Communication”, which, in fact attracted greatest attention of the audience and caused disputes and comments. A voluminous catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition. Slavko Timotijevic, among other, paid special attention to the “Unsuccessful Communication”, in the introductory text titled Miroljub Todorovic - Mail-art.(27) Apart from this, the following texts were published: a text Authentic Protagonist of Yugoslav Avant-garde by Michaele Perfetti, my two texts about mail-art, detailed bibliography and quite a number of mail-art works with an emphasis on works from the “Unsuccessful Communication”. Postcards sent to prominent poets and figures from the past,Vojislav Ilic, Djura Jaksic, Jovan Skerlic, Bora Stankovic, Karadjordje Petrovic, Milos Obrenovic, Laza Kostic, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, Vladislav Petkovic Dis and Augustin Ujevic were reproduced (as photocopies).
Along with the catalogue, the Gallery published a special invitation card printed in silk-screen technique with a reproduction of one of my unique post cards as well as a very successful poster of the exhibition.
In 1980 and 1981 few significant exhibitions, in which I participated, were organized. Here, I distinguish especially MAIL ETC., ART (traveling correspondence art exhibition), which began in January 1979 at the Colorado Boulder University, traveled around American universities all through the year and finished at Boulder again, in February 1980. My art stamps and the post card Cosmic Hieroglyphs were published in the beautiful and colorful catalogue. Besides this, in the introductory text, the critic Jim Field emphasized my, as he said “art manifesto” Fragments about Signalism , along with a review of the works by Canadian Chuck Stake, American Richard Kostelanetz and Frenchman Jean-Paul Thenot.(28)
Exhibition MISLAID INFORMATION organised as well by students this time in the place WAGA WAGA in Australia was also interesting. Selected material (which included my artistic stamps entitled “Signal Art”), was published in a special issue of the students’ magazine Race , devoted entirely, to this project.
Within the edition “Factotum-Art, Verona 1980, Sarenco, Eugenio Miccini and Franco Verdi, printed a collection of essays devoted to the book as a work of art titled Liber (practica internazionale del libro d’ artista). Work on this project began back in 1978, when these avant-garde poets demanded by letters quite a number of artists to send them one artists’ book each for the planned exhibition and book (collection). There were 141 artists (poets, avant-garde researcher) from a few countries who participated in this project, with Italians predominating.
In his inspiring introduction Eugenio Miccini said that the book, in the new artistic practice, from a mythical object had become a “subject, anti-book, allegory”.
Among many artists’ books in the collection there was a reproduction of the single copy of my signalist book Cobol which was made of used computer cards with interventions with a marker. Dimensions of the book was 8.5x19 cm, and the reproduction showed that it was produced in Belgrade in 1978.(29)
I co-operated most frequently and most successfully with the Italians from the very beginning, ever since I joined the courses of avant-garde movements in sixties and seventies. I took part in many exhibitions in Italy, I was represented in their collections and anthologies of visual poetry and mail-art. With the exception of the Julian Kornahuzer’s study in Poland, Italians have shown the greatest interest in signalism. The number of authors who wrote about our avant-garde movement witnessed this fact: A. Spatola, M. Perfetti, M.D. Ambrosio, A. Lora Totino, E. Minarelli.
This co-operation continues with the new generation of avant-garde authors, i.e. the third wave of mail-artists, with Nikola Frangione as one of its leading representatives. Frangione included my works in the book Snapshot (collective work of mail-art), which was published in only 100 bibliophile (I own the 44th copy) copies in January 1980. That same year, the same author edited and published the international mail-art magazine Commonpress no. 26 with the leading topic “Zen and Art”, in which few of my artistic stamps from the series Self Portrait were found.
In the beginning of 1980, American Jane Ellen Gilmor edited and published Commonpress no. 25 with the topic “Ruins”. One visual poem, which I reprinted later in the collection Brain Soup (1982) was published in this issue.
The name of Belgian Guy Schraenen from Antwerp was known and respected in avant-garde circles a long time ago. In October 1980 this organizer and theoretician began a project which will certainly be noted in large letters in the history of mail-art.
Namely, Schraenen initiated mail-art party named ANTWEP INTERNATIONAL MAIL-ART FESTIVAL (exhibitions, lectures, projections), which would last all the year long, in the Internationaal Cultureel Centrum in Antwerp. Within this festival Schraenen also published Libellus the first monthly publication for mail-art. Various works concerning mail-art, concrete and visual poetry, manifestos, messages, sentences, information and invitations for participation in exhibitions, collections, anthologies and other projects of avant-garde artists from Brazil to Japan, and from Finland to Australia were published in Libellus, 12 issues of which appeared from October 1980 till October 1981. Starting from the second volume of his magazine, Schraenen began writing his specific diary of received mail with the names of senders, which gradually grew from one issue to the other. From the first issue he published stamps (stamp prints) with the imaginary countenance of one or two mail-artists. A few of my visual poems and mail-art works appeared in Libellus. Stamp (blue stamp print) with my imaginary countenance(30) was published in issue no. 12, and at the same time, Schraenen sent me prints of these stamps on special paper as well as a special envelope of his ICC (small press archive communication) with a stamp.
Apart from the mentioned actions initiated and achieved by artists, as we have seen, it is significant to mention actions of an official institution. Metronom (Espai del Centre de Documentacio d’Art Actual) from Barcelona organized a great mail-art exhibition from October 13 to November 21, 1980, with a voluminous catalogue in which one work of each participant was printed. A year later, this institution arranged an exhibition devoted to artists’ books, also in October and November. As Rafael Tous, director of Metronom, informed us, about 2000 books by more than 800 artists arrived for this exhibition. In the voluminous catalogue, critics and theoreticians tried to define “artists’ books” and determine their role in new trends. For Hubert Kretschmer, the form of the book is a message itself.(31) Jose Luis Mata started from the fact that production of special books, object-books, anti-books and everything that can be connected with the idea of a book, is in fact a “spark of revolt” against customary, often one-dimensional living and creative practice.(32) For Guy Schraenen, artists’ book, together with dadaism, has revolutionised the artistic world of the twentieth century.
According to this critic, artists’ book, has contributed to this revolutionizing not only by searching for new forms or contents, but by spreading works of art which was as significant, and one could add by broadening the limits of art.(33)
The front page of my signalist book Fortran, Belgrade 1981 (one more book from the family of fortran) was published in the Metronom catalogue on page 117, as item 624. Its basic characteristics: “libre original, 8 pag.-8x19 cm” were given on page 187 with the same number.
Towards the end of August 1981, Peter Jorg Splettstosser organized an exhibition of art stamps STAMP = QUOTATION QUOTATION = STAMP for the Festival of Culture in Bremen. After Splettstosser’s invitation, 123 artists, poets and composers sent their ideas (designs) for artistic stamps of size not bigger than 8x5 cm. The catalogue of the exhibition was in fact produced manually of stamp seals in different colors and represented an exceptionally interesting collection in which variety of artistic possibilities of this form of mail-art could really be recognized. After the exhibition, Peter Jorg Splettstosser sent stamps to all the authors, which he had made according to their designs. This is how I obtained the stamp with the message THINK ABOUT MAIL-ART which framed a drawing typical for my fine art interventions.
In my Diary , which I kept intensively at the time, there is a note dated 24.9.1981 (Thursday): “Letter from Japanese city Kobe with the catalogue and two photos from the exhibition Portopia ‘81. The exhibition was opened in mid March and lasted till September 15. It was visited by 14 million people. Mail art named “Letters to Kobe” was as well very successfully presented together with the this grandiose exhibition. According to the organizers, this part of the exhibition was seen by three million people. In Kobe, mail-art was really “seen”.
Young Belgian artist Guy Bleus, organized an international mail-art exhibition ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? in Brussels in October 1981. Specialty of this exhibition, i.e. of its catalogue, was the fact that works in it were not printed as usual, but transferred to microfilms and then attached to the printed part of the catalogue.(34)
Most spectacular and certainly most significant mail-art exhibition in 1981 and not only then, was staged as part of XVI Biennial in Sao Paolo. This performance contributed a great deal to further recognition of mail-art and its striving to become “some sort of cultural capillary network of cosmic art”. Biennial is so well known in the world that I was quite surprised when a letter arrived from Walter Zanini, president of Biennial Counsel and one of its main organizers inviting me to participate at the exhibition “Nucleus I - Mail - Art” which was designed as a part of XVI Biennial.
I have known Zanini earlier since I participated in the exhibitions Prospectiva (1974) and Poetica Visualis (1977), which he had very successfully organized as a director of the Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of San Paolo. This time, for the Biennial, I mostly sent him previously copied and printed materials with interventions on some of the works, the material that I participated with at other exhibitions of similar kind. Zanini informed me by a letter of July 1 that he received the works, thanked me and said that he would send new information about the exhibition he prepared in due time.
XVI Biennial in San Paolo lasted from October 16 to December 20, 1981. On December 6, I received another letter from Walter Zanini informing me about some details of this great performance. According to his words, more than six thousand documents were presented at the mail-art exhibition in a space of 2000 cubic meters. Among other foreign mail-artists the following artists attended personally this exceptional mail-art celebration: Cavellini, Ulises Carrion and Jonier Marin. Zanini ended his letter with a promise that he would soon send the catalogue of the exhibition. The catalogue which arrived afterwards confirmed all the grandeur of this mail-art performance in Sao Paolo.(35)
I will finish describing exhibitions that I took part in during 1981 which was extremely rich in mail-art happenings, with a note about ARTISTS’ POSTAGE STAMPS exhibition which I organized together with Slavko Timotijevic, historian of art and fine art critic, at the Happy Gallery of SKC where he was director, in November 1981.(36) At the exhibition, 93 artists from several countries participated. Quite a good catalogue was printed with reproductions of stamps in black and white as well as two post cards with reproduced artists’ stamps.
In the following few years my interest in mail-art did not diminish significantly, but I became considerably more choosy and selective concerning exhibitions, and I participated only when I evaluated and judged from the invitation or some other means, that certain aesthetic quality and research improvement in this new artistic field would be expressed, that it would not be reduced to mere communication.
Fine art critics could not remain indifferent to mail-art and its experimental improvements any longer. On this occasion I would like to mention our outstanding fine art critic Zoran Markus who, besides interest in Signalism,(37) showed a lively interest in mail-art. In 1982 Markus among other included, a few of my mail-art works in his IZBOR ‘82 (Selection). Some of them - letter On Kawari and a manually produced post card were published in the catalogue of the exhibition. I assume that this was one of the first inclusions of mail-art in a first-class exhibition in our country.(38)
In the introductory text of the catalogue, Zoran Markus talked about mail-art with plenty of understanding, especially analyzing “Unsuccessful Communication”. According to his words “post cards were returned with notes by postmen and those concerning Unsuccessful Communication form a series of social, professional and linguistic data broadening the sense of the basic message”.(39)
From 1982 till the moment when I am writing this (October 1987), I had three one-man exhibitions and participated in more than ten collective mail-art exhibitions in the world. Among them, INTERNATIONAL MAIL-ART EXHIBITION OF VISUAL MESSAGE ‘82 at Kwan Hoon museum of fine arts in Seoul 1982 and SEOUL INTERNATIONAL MAIL-ART EXHIBITION in the Art Centre of Korea in the same town next year should not be forgotten. On the occasion of both exhibitions well prepared catalogues were published.(40)
Peter Kustermann from Minden (West Germany) published some sort of poetical-mail-artistic collection titled Kein Krieg in meiner Stadt! It is printed on the occasion of the exhibition with the same name organized by the same author.(41) The same year, I received a catalogue TIMBRES D’ARTISTES from Jean-Marc Rastorfer, published after the international exhibition of artistic stamps organized by Rastorfer in Laussane back in 1980.
In autumn 1982, my one-man exhibition THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM was organised as part of the XX October Meeting of Writers. The exhibition included works in the field of visual, gesture poetry and mail-art. Besides some visual works, texts Particularities and Convergences in Signalist Poetics (Matteo D’Ambrosio) and What is Signalism (Dave Oz) were published in the catalogue.(42)
My following one-man exhibitions were: SIGNALIST RESEARCH, (visual poetry, mail-art) in the gallery KOV, in Vrsac in 1983, and SIGNAL ART, some kind of retrospection of my complete work in the Gallery of the Contemporary Art Museum in October 1984.(43) Both exhibitions included mail-art works.
Signal Art was the last one-man exhibition I had. In the meantime, I have exhibited my mail-art works at international collective exhibitions: INTERNATIONAL MAIL-ART EXHIBITION in Budapest 1984, L’OBJET CULTUREL in Pon-a-Mousson, Lorraine 1985, THE SCROLL UNROLLS in Janco DADA museum Israel 1985, INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS’ POSTAGE STAMPS EXHIBITION in Weddel 1985, ARTISTS’ BOOK in Oldenburg 1986, LA COCOTIER (International mail-art exhibition) in Noumea, New Caledonia 1986, BELEGKEPEK (Stamp Images) in Budapest 1987 PAISATGE (Exposicio Internacional de Mail-Art) in La Carrotxa, Portugal 1987, etc.
Bernard Lobach, outstanding German conceptual artist published a voluminous catalogue named “The Bible of Artists’ Postage Stamps” on the occasion of INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS’ STAMPS EXHIBITION which he organized in Wedel in 1985. The organizer of the ARTIST’ BOOKS exhibition in Oldenburg was Klaus Groh. Although Lobach rightfully called his publication “The Bible of Artists’ Postage Stamps”, it seems to me, that Groh had even more right to name the catalogue of his exhibition “The Bible of Artists’ Books”. This catalogue contained few significant theoretical contributions, and answers to the question “Why artists’ books?” by authors themselves, and finally numerous reproductions of works.(44)
Apart from one-man exhibitions and participation at international mail-art exhibitions in 1983, I sent a few post cards to Aleksandar Flaker, an excellent expert in Russian avant-garde from Zagreb, as part of the project SIGNALIST COMMUNICATION, which I practiced under different circumstances and on different occasions from the very beginning of my dealing with mail-art. Stamps Think about Signalism and Think about Mail-art were sstamped on these cards with artists’ stamps and small collages, etc. Finally, a SIGNALIST BOOK was mailed, made of computer cards with indication saying that it is unique, made especially for professor Flaker.(45)
During June and July 1984, at certain time intervals, I mailed a series of eighteen postcards to literary critic Zivan Zivkovic.(46) This series included three types of postcards. In the first group were photo cards with motives from Visual poems Lunometre, I will Tell you with Strawberries or Robin in the Cage, Alphabet and one fragment from the visual essay Geometry of the Poem.
Five of such cards were mailed to Zivkovic: two were bore stamps with Think about Mail-Art and the date when one was expected to think about mail-art was indicated. On one postcard the determined date was 3. 7. 1984 and on the other 27. X 1984. On the remaining three cards stood the stamp THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM. The dates suggested for thinking were 14. VI 1984, 16 VIII 1984 and 7. XII 1984.
The second series of seven postcards included in fact processed computer cards. They were of different colors. Most of them included the message Think about Signalism, this time without a suggested date for thinking. On many cards there were artists’ stamps with different interventions made with a blue marker.The third series were hand made postcards, made of cardboard. There were six of them. Three were made of black cardboard, two of green and one of white. Contrary to the previous ones, all six cards were mailed as registered letters and five had indication - urgent . Drawings, visual poems and copied or for that occasion especially made artists’ stamps were on the cards. Countenance of Goethe and a handmade message “Think about Signalism” (in English) beside it are on one of the cards made of black cardboard. On the other one, there are deformed letters, etc.
Two-way communication was achieved with the poet Slobodan Pavicevic. In autumn 1984, we exchanged a few postcards of different appearance and design with different messages. Among others, Slobodan treated two sentimental postcards from the thirties by putting his stamps and collages on them and changing in this way the very essence their trash appearance and message. Here are also treated cards of Zmaj Children Festival and Children Sparks , one ancient postcard from Paris and a more recent postcard with the face of a Massai girl from East Africa.
Postcards I sent to Slobodan Pavicevic were made of computer cards, cardboard and already existing picture postcards published by the National Museum in Belgrade. These picture postcards with faces of Archangel Gabrielle, an unknown saint from Gradac, a miniature from Miroslav gospel, a sculpture from Lepenski Vir and antique motives were treated by drawings, artists’ postage stamps and stamps.
Pavicevic and I planned to publish our mail-art action, i.e. its material (postcards) in a book. Unfortunately this idea was not effectuated so far.
I have noted previously that I have become more choosy and selective concerning participation in international mail-art projects. I have established some rather strict criteria for such participation and I do not deviate from them. A few days ago, in my mail-box which was by the way made especially for the needs of mail-art back in May 1970, for mail-art purposes, a letter arrived from Galantai-Artpool archives in Budapest. They are inviting me to send my mail-art works for the Exhibition “Duchamp Spirit in Contemporary Art”. The exhibition is being organized on the occasion of hundredth anniversary of the great Dadaist magus Marcel Duchamp (1887 -1987). I will certainly participate in such a project.

Notes:

[1] I think that the difference should be emphasised between Signalist manifestation as understood here in communication mail-art sense and Signalist manifestation as I defined my actions in the frame of gestual poetry at he beginning. In the new issue of Signal, besides photos of a gestual action there an explanation Signalist manifestation I defined then signalist manifestation (gestual poetry) as “new, open communication system, in which the artist (poet, producer of art), and frequently the consumer of the work still I creation both become integral parts of the final artistic creation.” On the published photography, I hold a poster with parts of my computer poem With noodles certainly, created in the Mathematical Institute in Belgrade 1971 in two series. In the first series the action is performed with the poster with the mentioned computer poem sealed on it, and in the second, my playing with computer cards is recorded by a camera. Part of this action (three photos) is published in the book Algol (1980) entitled Gestual Poem.I have performed first signalist manifestation of this type (action, gestual poetry) on April 14 1969 with the poster Hotbed. I have printed 80 copies of this poster-poem size (36x52 cm) on cardboard in several colours with one of my friends, half illegally in the great printing company “Privredni pregled” in the beginning of April 1969. After that, the mentioned day, I sealed the biggest part of the poster poem in Belgrade, mostly in the centre of the city, in public places, on walls, windows and accesses to certain cultural institutions. I remember well the excitements I felt while placing two poster-poems (red and black) on the wall of the long, at the time dark corridor of Publishing house “Prosveta” in Cika Ljubina street 1. The posters disappeared from “Prosveta” (they were removed) during the same day, as I convinced myself later.I have performed a similar action on July 3 1970, during IV Belgrade threeanial of Yugoslav fine art, in which I participated. During the opening of this exhibition I distributed to the visitors and participants poster-poem Signalist poetry and talked about the contents and meaning of this communication action.There were four visual poems on the front page of this poster poem, and six variations of the computer poem With noodles certainly on the back cover. One computer card was attached to the poster. I remember a conversation with Oto Bihalji Merin and his half humorous question, why do I give him the poster-poem with the red computer card, when he noticed that the cards were in different colours and the red one was the rarest.One should neither forget here, the gestual action Head Movements performed the same year 1970 in one of the devices for express photography in Bezistan, Terazije. Part of these photos was published on the cover of my collection Staircase (1971) without any note about their meaning.
[2] It is interesting to mention, that Michele Perfetti, known Italian visual poet, mail-artist and critic has mentioned, in his text Poesia e violenca (Signal) in the journal "Corriere del giorno", October 21 1971, the Signalist Manifestation I have organised in Belgrade as an international exhibition of experimental poetry probably due to insufficient knowledge of language.
[3] This could be translated as "book of the artist". The following phrases are used as well: "book as work of art" ( G. Celan) and "bookwork".According to the opinion expressed by Ulises Carrion critic and mail-artist in his essay The New Art of making Books, (see Second Thoughts, Void, Amsterdam 1980, pp 6-22), a book is not only a box containing words and even less a "luggage with words". A book might as well exist as an autonomous self sufficient form, including maybe the text, but the text which emphasises the form, the text which is an functional part of that form. In traditional literature says Carrion the writer writes a text. This text (poetry or prose) ignores completely the fact that the book is not only a carrier of words, but an independent space-time sequence. In the new art, a writer does not write a text, he produces a book.Richard Kostelanetz, American poet, critic and avant-garde artist joined this effort to define new a artist book (bookwork). In his essay Book-Art he determines the new book, book as art work, as "imaginative book" as well.According to Kostelanetz sentences in a conventional book are arranged in rectangular blocks, uniformed looking like soldiers in battle. In the imaginative book an effort is made to do something with syntax, format, pages, cover, form, size, sequence, structure, binding, i.e. with all the elements which should be changed to create a somewhat different book. This artist says that the artists book is produced with the aim to communicate by imaginative phenomena, "in this way something completely different from the experience of reading is created.
[4] About mid 1972 Guillermo Deisler, visual artist and athologist from Chile, sent me from Atofagasta a letter and a short review of Fortan. This review was later translated and published in the book Signalism in the World (edited by M.B. Šijakovic), Belgrade 1984.In this text Deisler sees Fortran in the following way:"Application of the punched cards, previously treated by a computer, as pages of a signalist book brings us a series of meanings from the world in which we transform ourselves into figures, codes which should be "read"; world of programming, punching, interpreting of data; world which is discovered from research of numerals produced by a machine able to achieve even the most complicated operations with the speed of light as an only restriction.This is not a protest, it is simply stated. There are hand written characters on these cards, graphism of Todorovic, in a justaposition which shows a paradox of our personal existences which are confined in a very complicated world full of contradictions. We are there discovering ourselves capured in the network of speech from the simplest family or individual decissions to the moment in which our choice turns into something unpredicted."(See Guillermo Deisler: Fortran - Signalist Book by Miroljub Todorovic, "Signalism in the World", p 18.)
[5] On the occasion of this stamp and its message, on of our critics states that it represents a real "mini manifesto of signalism" and that the receipt of a card with this stamp excites and inspires him whenever he receives it. On the other hand, Radivoj Cveticanin would note somewhat cynically and humorously in his text Signals above Poetry, Omladinske novine" No. 34, July 6 1974:"Do not be surprised if one day a postman would leave a post card with one single gentle command "Think about Signalism", in your post box.First and natural question after arrival of such mail would be - What does Signalism want again. Those who are informed know about the "aggressiveness" of this movement in modern art creation; postcard which is usually mailed to such people, bothers them. It reminds that one should think about Signalism without interruption as was the case with "Prodixan" at certain time.
[6] Later (1979) I would make my second stamp with the text of Jubilee character: SIGNALISM 1959 - 1979 Think about signalism.
[7] Proceedings was published by Daylight Press in 1976, on the occasion of STAMP ART SHOW exhibition (where material from the proceedings was represented) in the bookstore Other Books and So, Amsterdam, from April 27 to May 1976.
[8] Some of the treated photocopies are mentioned by Dr Marvin Sackner, known American collector of concrete and visual poetry, in the Catalogue of his Archive."TODOROVIC, MIROLJUB, photocopies in envelope, signed and inscribed to Avalanche Magazine".According to the date, Sackner purchased these photocopies from the journal Avalanche in 1983. (See catalogue The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 1984, p.811).Photocopy of the text Cosmic Hieroglyphs (different variations) with caption Signalist Project, was published (the list is not complete) in the following publications:-Jan Chwalezyk: COUNTERPOINT, Wroclaw 1972 (Besides Cosmic Hieroglyphs one work from the series The Eye, gestual poem Lunar Sign, two letters from the series Signalist Communication and the manifesto Communication - entity - thought, in English).- J.H. Kocman: LOVE, Brno 1972.- Ida Biard: FRENCH WINDOW, Paris 1972-1973.- Bill Vazan: CONTACTS, Montreal 1973. (Besides a photocopy of Cosmic Hieroglyphs, postcards Cosmic Communication and Gordian Knot were published as well as a part of gestual poem Lunar Sign.
[9] Official fine art critic, (even the one which gravitated towards SKC) has of course avoided this exhibition. Three shorter notes were published (in Politika on February 26 and 27 and Ekspres politika on February 27 1973 entitled Communication. Belgrade Student published on March 13 1973 with a title Reinvestigations a very brutal attack against the exhibition and my creative work on the whole and even the gallery itself because of the exhibition. The attack was signed by pseudonym Ivan Fazetna.It is interesting that Felipe Ehrenberg registered the exhibition, i.e. its catalogue in the English avant-garde journal Contexts No. 5, 1973.[10] Official fine art critic, (even the one which gravitated towards SKC) has of course avoided this exhibition. Three shorter notes were published (in Politika on February 26 and 27 and Ekspres politika on February 27 1973 entitled Communication. Belgrade Student published on March 13 1973 with a title Reinvestigations a very brutal attack against the exhibition and my creative work on the whole and even the gallery itself because of the exhibition. The attack was signed by pseudonym Ivan Fazetna.It is interesting that Felipe Ehrenberg registered the exhibition, i.e. its catalogue in the English avant-garde journal Contexts No. 5, 1973.
[11] Material from the exhibition and the manifesto Communication - entity - thought itself, translated into English, were published in the following publications (incomplete data):- Clive Robertson: A CONCEPTOGRAPHIC READING OF OUR WORLD THERMOMETER, Calgary 1973. (Two works from the series The Eye and the Manifesto were published. The whole material was shown on Canadian television.)- SIGNIFYING, Kyoto, Japan 1974. (Communication - entity - thought, in English, new improved translation).- ORGON No. 3, Madrid 1977. (The Eye with the text from the catalogue, about the eye, in English and Spanish).-DOC(K)S No. 12, Paris - Ventabren 1978. (Communication - entity - thought, in English).Foreign critics and theoreticians cited and commented on the Manifesto. Klaus Groh cited it and took it as a basis for a debate about Signalism in his essay Miroljub Todorovic and Signalism. Based on the statements from this manifesto, in his essay Particulars and Convergence in Signalist Poetic Matteo D'Ambrosio established that Signalism approached conceptual art. (See these texts in the book Signalism in the World, Belgrade 1984.)
[12] Besides these printed postcards I produced by photographic technique 250 copies of a series of eight picture postcards. On these picture postcards there were parts of visual poem Labyrinth (from the book Kiberno 1970), Lunometre, With strawberries I will tell you or robin in the cage, Alphabet, and a visual poem which will later be published in the book Algol (1980), in which all these poems will be published joined to the cycle of permutational poetry Winter snow runs the horse.Visual poems (parts of poems) from the picture postcards were published in the following journals, catalogues and anthologies:- MIX MAGAZINE No. 6, Woleville, Canada 1974.- FUNF OSTERROPPAISCHE KUNSTLER, Institut fur Moderne Kunst, Nurneberg, 1975.- Joseph M. Figueres, Manuel de Seabra: ANTOLOGIA DA POESIA VISUAL EUROPEIA, Lisabon 1977.- DOC(K)S, No.12, Paris - Ventabren 1978.- KALDRON No. 11, Grover City, USA 1980.- INTERSTATE No. 14, Austin 1981.- NEMEZETKOZI, "MAIL ART" KIALLITAS (catalogue), Budapest 1984.- Andrej Tisma: PRIVATE LIFE (catalogue), Novi Sad 1986.
[13] Jun Muzukami: POST DOCUMENTS, Nagoya 1975. (Emblem of Signalism, Lunometre, Gordian Knot and Signalist manifestation with the text "Fragments on Signalism" were published). Fernando Millan, Jesus Garcia Sanchez: LA ESCRITURA EN LIBERTAD, Madrid 1975. (Lunometre was published).Besides previous the postcards were published in the following:- MIX MAGAZINE No. 3, Saskatoon, Canada 1973 (Emblem of Signalism and Gordian Knot).- MIX MAGAZINE No. 5, 1974 (Signalist Project Cosmic Communication).- Terry Reid, Gwen Stainton, Geoff Tenant: MASK PRODUCTION, Mildura, Australia 1976. (Signalist manifestation).- Walter Zanini, Julio Plaza: POETICAS VISUAIS, Sao Paulo 1977. (Signalist manifestation).- Romano Peli: MANTUA MAIL, Mantua 1978. (Signalist Project Cosmic Communication).- SPRACHEN JENSEITS VON DICHTUNG, Munster 1979. (Anagrams and Gordian Knot).- VERICALISMO No. 21/22, Catania 1982. (Signalist Project Cosmic Communication).- Julian Kornhauzer: TRAGARZE ZDAN (antologia mlodej poezji serbskiej), Krakow - Wroclaw 1983. (Alphabet together with picture postcards Labyrinth, Winter snow runs the horse and five other visual poems).
[14] In this period I participated in many projects and numerous exhibitions of mail-art in the world. List of these exhibitions together with collective exhibitions of concrete and visual poetry is found in my book Algol, Belgrade 1980 and in the catalogue Mail-Art, Belgrade 1981.
[15] Here are the names of only few authors and book titles:J.H. Kocman: CHROMATOGRAPHIC BOOK, Yutaka Matsuzawa: VANISKINGS (1922 - 1975), Richard Kostelanetz: AD INFINITUM - A FICTION, Bogdanka Poznanovi_: STELLATA, Endre Tot: EXERCISE, Luciano Ori: LOVE STORY, Robert Filliou: DEBUT ET FIN D'UN LIVRE SANS FIN, Klaus Groh: RELATIVITIES, Ken Friedman: COMPLETITION BY KEN FRIEDMAN, etc.
[16] This Canadian critic would later publish an essay about Signalism and Signalist Documentation Centre in the journal Mexican Art Magazine (October 1982), using the pseudonym Dave Oz. It is interesting that he internationalises my term signalism in this text, i.e. he tries to include mail-art in it. This is not accidental. About seventies David Zack sent me his works (visual poems and drawings), by cordiality of Klaus Groh, with the note that they are signalist works. So Zack was the firs and only author (artist) who joined Serbian (Yugoslav) avant-garde movement Signalism.
[17] Enzo Minarelli analises Communication in the text Poetic of Communication (see the book Signalism in the World p.47).
[18] This French journal, that I have wrote about separately (see Knjizevna rec, July 10 1979), besides visual poetry paid special attention to mail-art. The whole issue of Doc(k)s (December 1978) would be devoted to mail-art, and later, in the next issues, Julien Blaine, its founder and editor in chief, will regularly devote more than tens of pages for publishing mail-art works. Blaine will not stop at this, already in 1979 he will organise a very successful mail-art exhibition Expediteur ... Destinaire Paris, in the Paris gallery "Lara Vinci". Catalogue of this exhibition is in a fact a box including works of participants, reproduced on postcards. So, each participant received a post card with his work.Among mail-art actions and exhibitions by the end of seventies it is necessary to emphasises and mention Cabaret Voltaire, publication which is edited and published by Steve Hitchcock from San Diego. I participated with several works in two topical issues of this publication MISTAKES & ERRATA (1977) and NEW MUSIC INTERNATIONAL (1978).Spanish avant-garde artist Mata organised successfully presentation of mail-art in Madrid and Segovia in 1978 with the name Black on White. At the same time Judith Hoffberg and Joan Hugo pointed out artist' books in the frame of mail-art by the exhibition Artwords and Bookworks in Los Angeles and later in New York, Indianapolis and New Orleans, in the "museums without walls", as they say.Ken Friedman and Mike Crane, are most deserving for organising the exhibition Lifhtworks Envelope Show in July 1978 in Ann Arbour, and later in May 1979 in Detroit. The journal Lightworks, sponsor of this exhibition printed a special catalogue with theoretical supplements by Friedman, Crane and Charlion Burch, addresses and selected works of certain participants. Two of my visual poems are published in this catalogue which was itself designed in the form of an elongated mail envelope.
[19] Part of this mail-art material was published in my book Knockdown, Belgrade 1984.
[20] Kornahuzer will express his opinion about mail-art in the section Gestual poetry of the same study:“Iconography of pop-art, related in some extent to visual poetry was replaced by communication sphere of conceputalism which took advantage of all the results and projects, exhibitions, systems for registering the nature (seismic records, encephalograms), instructions, collections of slogans, final prints. Therefore, citing Zmegac, everything that we could at the beginning mark as discovered texts, or everything that imitates them. This includes as well mail-art (communications with different contents sent to persons chosen by the artist), initiated by Japanese Kavara (from New York), who in 1968, informed daily receivers of his postcards and telegrams at what time he wakes up. Signalist manifestation of Todorovic is the same kind of communication action. These manifestations are based on presenting a series photocopied envelopes, letters and postcards sent to his address by avant-garde artists from all over the world. Todorovic’s “book” named “Fortran”, Belgrade 1972, produced of six white used computer cards in 47 copies can be included in mail-art. Data about the author are on the first card, certain interventions performed by marker are on the following four, and the stamp of the review Signal is on the last card with the authors signature and number of the copy. Fortran was mailed to 47 artists. Artistic material applied by a conceptualist is only a carrier of a priori established idea. This statement is important since most of the conceptualist achievements apply linguistic texts which could point out their natural connection with literature (i.e. poetry. When we have posed a question in this way, we have not made our task easier. In fact, Todorovic’s achievement Cosmic Hieroglyphs (series of photocopied articles from Belgrade Politika about the destiny of space ship Pioneer flying towards planet Jupiter), with smaller interventions - underlined text by marker, lines - is nothing but linguistic (completed) text, but first: Todorovic is not its author, and second: it is not the text which is important but the manner how it is applied. This, for example, refers as well to Kosuth’s definition exhibited in the gallery. There are no deformed verbal signs here, as in the concrete poetry, but complete texts having a meaning. Still they participate in the action, artistic manifestation, they do not have their ordinary meaning (definition of art, cosmic expedition out of solar system), but mark as well the communication which represents antiaesthetic reaction against conventional art. It seems here that a different articulation of treated texts is in question. Term from the dictionary, fragment of an article as well as authors instruction are transferred in the same way as ready mades from their context (Encyclopaedia, newspapers, preparatory phases for artistic reality.
[21] As mentioned previously, besides long ago deceased writers and leaders, postcards were sent to at that time still living eminent writers: Marko Ristic and Miroslav Krleza. Postcard Communication sent to Marko Ristic with the address Pariska 12, Belgrade returned with a note unknown. Postcard sent to Miroslav Krleza, Zagreb Augusta Senoe 15, with the stamp THINK ABOUT SIGNALISM, did not return. I suppose that was the only card from this series that was delivered to the receiver.
[22] This issue appeared in book stores only in May.
[23] Right after appearance, Delo with mail-art as an attractive phenomenon of avant-garde art would be reviewed in our papers. Notes were published in vecernje novosti (May 21 1980), Politika (May 24 1980, with several mail-art contributions) and Prosvetni pregled (May 30 1980). Ranko Igric and Milorad B. Pavlovic made more extensive reviews of the anthology in Oko(July 24 1980) and Omladinske novine (May 24 1980) respectively.
[24] This will be noted as well by Denis Poniz, poet and critic from Slovenia in his review of this book, entitled Signal Art in Knizevne novine No. 627 on June 4 1981."Since the book was printed in silk screen technique, in black colour, some of the most successful projects look like graphics. The new book of this artist has appears unified and its special value is certainly that it is the first book by a Yugoslav author devoted completely to mail-art."It is interesting that Poniz equalises here mail-art and concrete poetry:"Mail-art is a form of concrete poetry, which the author most frequently created, in the shape of postcards, and sent by mail."Poniz developed further his attitudes. (See section entitled "Concrete poetry and mail-art" in his study Concrete Poetry , "Literary Lexicon", Vol. 23, Drzavna zalozba Slovenije, 1984.)
[25] Branko Cegec Booking of Mail consignments, "Oko" No. 235, 19.03.1981. My polemic texts written on that occasion, see in the book Step za sumindere Belgrade 1984, pp. 7-11.[26] Poet Ivan Jelicic Merlin wrote a most confusing and very superficial review with similar amateur comprehension of mail-art as "private correspondence", in Revija No. 3, Osijek, Svibanj-Lipanj 1982.In his half illiterate text this reviewer even asks in one moment "what the poet really wanted to say":" ... a question arises, what one would like to say, what is the moral, what is wanted to be built, ruined, excluded."
[27] Timotijevic published this text in Omladinske novine No. 295 (May 23 1981) untitled Djuro javi se, with reproductions of postcards mailed to Djura Jaksic and Vojislav Ilic, and one work from the series Think about Mail-Art.
[28] MAIL ETC, ART: on introduction by Jim Field, in the catalogue Mail etc., Art, Art, p.19, University of Colorado, Boulder 1980.
[29] When dealing with artists' book and Italians it is important to state the following. A complete history of what the Italians name "la poesia visiva" is given in the extensive catalogue LA POESIA VISIVA (1963 - 1979), Firenza 1980, (editors Gillo Dorfels, Vittorio Fagone, Filiberto Mena, Ermano Migliorini and Luciano Ori). In the catalogue, besides the reproduction of the front page of the anthology Concrete, Visual and Signalist Poetry,"Delo" No. 3, 1975, p.148, Section "Libri", numbered 373 it is written: "Miroljub Todorovic, THE TOWN, Belgrado 1975, 8.3x18.8 cm pp 10. Esemplare unico." I would now like to have look at this artists' book, to see what it was made of and what this Town, that I have completely forgotten, looks like. The book is probably owned by Luciano Ori, since among other mentioned editors I was in contact only with him and Gillo Dorfles.
[30] In the same issue (12) a stamp with the countenance of avant-garde artist Chuk Stake was published as well.
[31] Hubert Kretschmer: Whaat are Artist's Books?, Catalogue LLIBRES D'ARTISTA/ARTIST'S BOOKS, "Metronom, Barcelona 1981, p.25.
[32] Jose Luis Mata: Empiric Manifest, same catalogue pp 28-29.
[33] Guy Schraenen: The Book of an is Artist is a Work of Art., Same, pp30-31 (All the texts in the catalogue are printed in Catalan and English).
[34] Guy Bleus would later have a few more projects. On of them was WORLD ART ATLAS 1983 (exhibition and catalogue). My work is reproduced rather poorly in this catalogue, I do not have its photography nor a photocopy. In September 1984, this Belgian artist edited and published Commonpress No. 56. In this issue, besides a very instructive essay about mail-art, he published as well a retrospection of the journal Commonpress (1977-1984),and the works of the participants in the exhibition Aerogrammes, that he organised in meantime. All the works, as Bleus underlines, more than 800 pages in A format, are transferred on four microfilms size 10.5x15 cm (standard size of a postcard) and attached to Commonpress.
[35] One of my works from the series Think about Mail-Art is published in the catalogue. The same work is reproduced as well in the catalogue of my exhibition Mail-Art (Happy New Art Gallery, 1981), and later, somewhat changed and complemented with artistic stamps, in the book Knockdown (1984) on page 98. One of the works from this series was published the same year in the French journal Sphinx No.14/15, Hiver (Winter) 1981, p.21.
[36] Note that this is just a partial description and list since a rigorous selection was done.
[37] See the texts Signalism and Zenitism, "Gradina", No.18, 1980 and Signalist Painting, proceedings Signalism Avant-garde Creative Movement, Belgrade 1984.
[38] I would participate a few times in Golden Pen Zlatno pero (invited) and in 25th October Salon, 1984.
[39] Zoran Markus, IZBOR'82, cataloge of the exhibition, Art pavillion "Cvjeta Zuzoric", 1982.
[40] I published a work created especially for the occasion, from stamps THINK ABOUT MAIL-ART, in the catalogue of the first exhibition. Part of the work Signal Art was published in the catalogue of the second one.
[41] Two Artists' Postage Stamps are published in the catalogue.
[42] Already mentioned Canadian artist and critic David Zack is hiding behind this pseudonym. As mentioned previously Zack/Oz is trying, in his text, to expand the term signalism to mail-art on the whole, and it is evident that he considered mail-art as one of the signalist activities.Zack/Oz explains his attitude more explicitly in the text Report about Signalist Action, in which he writes about the work of Lona Spiehelman, known American mail-artist, as signalist activity and about him as a signalist artist.(See Mexican Art Magazine, October 1982).
[43] In reviews of Signal Art exhibition, Zoran Markus (Politika, October 26 1984), Dusan Djokic (Borba, October 26 1984) and Balsa Rajcevic (Knjizevna rec No. 244, November 1984), among other subjects write separately about mail-art.
[44] I participated in this project with, certainly more recent signalist book FORTRAN. Data concerning biography with notes about exhibitions, photography of the book and its description are on pages 1266-1269 in the catalogue.
[45] In his text Historical Sources of New Creativity ("Knjizevna rec", No. 220, 10. XI 1983 and in NOMADS of BEAUTY) pp. 17-23, Zagreb, 1988) Aleksandar Flaker would note the following:"If avant-garde called today "historical", although its heritage in different forms still causes resistance whenever public assembly occurs around theatrical or cinematography achievements of its premises, if avant-garde nurtured on one side literature in collage form and on the other "picture poetical" efforts of visualising verbal texts, then it is evident that we have inherited these intentions of new syncretism which also demands strongly new communication routes outside institutional aesthetic space. When we receive today Lunometre (1969-70) or Cosmic hieroglyphs (1972) on postcards sent by Miroljub Todorovic, this must remind us of the times when Oskar Kokoska produced (lithography) and distributed his coloured picture postcards in Wienar Werkstatte (1908), Franc Mark arranged his mail-art for printing, and Kruconih Russian author of "subconscious" verse published a series of 12 picture postcards painted by brothers Mihail and Ivan Larionov, and Natalija Goncharova."
[46] Zivkovic is one of the first critics who performed deeper critical aesthetic analysis of the mail-art phenomenon in our culture. According to him: "It was frequently emphasised in literature that mail-art is the art adequate with our moment of civilisation conceptually as well as by means of achievement, and that it marks transfer of art (classical understanding of the word art) into communication media. More complete description of mail-art can be achieved in reference to social circumstances as well as formulation of its basic poetic principles on the basis of concrete creative practise, i.e. analysis of achieved works.(Zivan Zivkovic: Mail-art - Art of Communication,, Proceedings of the works of Pedagoska akademija za vaspitace, No. 8, Belgrade, 1984.)Zivkovic will practically demonstrate his attitude by analysing "Unsuccessful Communication":"Besides different definitions of mail-art, it is not difficult to understand the "Unsuccessful Communication" as art which is materialised in something different, not only in the act of "institutionalising mail exchange" as Jean Marc Poinsot said. In the complex of signalist research, mail-art "committed violence" against audience (receivers), the same way as other forms of art work when pushing back others, but since in the case of Todorovic "violence" failed (receivers do not exist), the total of the poetical action of the "Unsuccessful Communication" is demonstrated in communication of the author with the Post Office, i.e. poets acceptance of all the rules and constraints of the system (postal) applied, leaving traces (stamps, notes, etc.) as return information on the postcards. From this, twofold conclusion can be drawn: post office is the basic means (transmission) for sending messages in mail-art, but with Todorovic, it is something more than that, because it enables appearance of so called unintentional contents, unintentional news on the mail, as official signatures, stamps, notes, time, etc."
(Zivan Zivkovic: More than a Game, in the book Orbits of Signalism, Belgrade 1985, p.24.)

Miroljub Todorović

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