known as Morris/Trasov Archive)
Ray Johnson sends Michael Morris a letter commenting on Morris’ painting “The
Problem of Nothing” which had been reproduced in Artforum. Johnson
informs Morris that he had done “Nothings” while everyone else had done
“Happenings” and that now he is engaged in holding meetings of “the New York
Morris invites Johnson to participate in Concrete Poetry , Fine Arts
Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, curated by Alvin Balkind.
Johnson agrees and makes the first of only two trips outside the United States.
The exhibition is in four parts, including 19 collages by Johnson, 24 letter
drawings by Morris, and a selection of recent concrete poems by international
poets. Morris and Vincent Trasov discuss with Johnson their concept of
creating an artist’s network under the working title Image Bank. The term
“Image Bank” was used by William S. Burroughs in his novel “Nova Express”;
Grove Press, New York,
1964. The term “Memory Bank” is from Claude Levi-Strauss “The Savage Mind”;
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London,
Trasov performs “Flammable”, a fire process event at the University of British
Columbia. 16 combustible substances are ignited
to observe and document how they burn. Related to the performance is a series
of drawings using CUSO4 on paper exposed to heat.
Using the list of contributors to the Concrete Poetry exhibition,
Johnson’s N.Y.C.S. addresses plus their own contacts, Morris & Trasov,
calling themselves Image Bank, commence sending out regular mailings
soliciting artists’ image requests, addresses & research information.
Morris & Trasov contribute to Dana Atchley’s accumulative project Notebook,
a compilation of 250 correspondence items redistributed to artists on the
mail-art network. Morris & Trasov add the names of the other contributors
to their mailing list.
Morris & Trasov contribute “Star Bathing Cap for Rrose Selavy” to Ray
Johnson: New York Correspondence School exhibition, Whitney Museum
of American Art, New York, curated by Marcia Tucker. The show consists of
collages, letters, postcards and objects by 106 artists.
Morris & Trasov begin collaborations with Glenn Lewis of the “New York
Corres-Sponge Dance School of Vancouver”; Eric Metcalfe & Kate Craig
a.k.a. Dr. & Lady Brute of “Banal Beauty Inc.”; A.A. Bronson, Felix Partz
& Jorge Zontal of “General Idea” Toronto;
Chip Lord & Hudson Marquez of Ant Farm, San Francisco. The adoption of new personae
and aliases becomes prevalent in the emerging network of artists from
different disciplines and backgrounds. Morris chooses the alias “Marcel Dot”
and Trasov becomes “Mr. Peanut”.
Chip Lord & Hudson Marquez of the architecture /media group Ant Farm, San Francisco, arrive
with a porta-pac video.
Realism ‘70, Montreal
Museum of Art, “Did You
Ever Milk A Cow”. Michael Morris & Glenn Lewis propose that a live cow be
installed in a room of the gallery hung with paintings of cows in the
landscape from the museum’s collection.
“Alex & Roger”, Michael Morris. Light-on study is printed as booklet for B.C. Almanac,
National Film Board, Ottawa,
Morris & Trasov participate in Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks’ ongoing
celebration of the solstice sky event.
A Room with Props, Vancouver
Morris & Trasov create an installation of props and visual aids used as
interventions to emphasize the variances of process in film and photo media.
AA Bronson of General Idea, Toronto, visits Vancouver and
collaborates with Image Bank on “Fire Mirror Video”.
“Taping of the Critics / Mondo Arte”. Michael Morris and Glenn Lewis tie up
members of the international art critics convention on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Morris & Trasov invite correspondents to send postcards for an exhibition
of the artist’s use of the postcard for the exhibition Image Bank
Postcard Show, Fine Arts Gallery, University of British
Columbia, curated by Alvin Balkind. A boxed
edition of 80 original artist postcards is printed to accompany the show,
which commemorates the 100th. anniversary of the picture postcard.
The exhibition is circulated across Canada
by the extension department of The National Gallery, Ottawa.
Michael Morris is chosen “Miss General Idea”from a group of 16 contestants
at a pageant organized by General Idea at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Morris
accepts, changing his alias from Marcel Dot to Marcel Idea, an alias he uses
Ken Friedman arrives from San Diego
with his Fluxus archive and address lists. He stays in Vancouver for six months.
Ant Farm, the architecture & media group based in San Francisco, returns for a second visit,
sharing ideas & their address list.
Morris & Trasov both contribute to Dana Atchley’s second assembling Space
Image Bank helps compile a special Video Exchange Directory of people
involved with porta-pack video for Michael Goldberg’s newly formed Video Inn,
In Victoria Anna Long adopts the name Anna Banana & begins corresponding
with the artist’s network. Warren Knechtel & John Jack Baylin in Vancouver form Chicken
Bank & Bum Bank. All of these artists go on to develop the “zine”
Ray Johnson continues his N.Y.C.S. meetings. Many members of the network
contribute to these events by sending material through the mail.
Vincent Trasov creates his Mr. Peanut costume out of papier mache.
Friedman includes Image Bank and other members of the Western Front in an
issue of Source: Music of the Avant Garde; Issue 11, Vol. 6, No. 1
(January, 1972). Editor, Lunetta et al with guest editor, “International
Edition”, Ken Friedman.
Tender Image Bank Annual Report published by
Intermedia Press, Vancouver, defines activities & intentions.
Image Bank contributes to the Section Envoie, Paris Bienale, Paris, France.
Idea publishes the first issue of File Magazine. Vincent Trasov a.k.a.
Mr. Peanut is on the cover which appropriates the look of Life Magazine,
which ceased publishing in the mid 1970s. News of Image Bank activities and
the Image Bank artist’s address and request lists are featured.
“New Art School: Correspondence” Rolling Stone publishes the first of
three articles by Thomas Albright, calling mail art a potentially
revolutionary activity, thus giving wide publicity to Ray Johnson & the “mysterious”
workings of the N.Y.C.S. & the mail- art network. Rolling Stone,
April 13, 1972, p. 32.
Halifax Vancouver Exchange. Roy Kiyooka
organizes an exchange between artists from the Intermedia group, Vancouver,
& artists from Nova Scotia
College of Art &
Michael Morris a.k.a. Marcel Idea, Vincent Trasov a.k.a. Mr. Peanut, Glenn
Lewis a.k.a. Flakey Rose-Hips and John Jack Baylin a.k.a. Count Fanzini visit
New York City meeting many members of Ray Johnson’s N.Y.C.S. for the first
time, including May Wilson, Albert M. Fine, E.M. Plunkett (the N.Y.C.S. name
is attributed to Plunkett) Dick Higgins, Geoffrey Hendricks and John Dowd.
While in New York,
the New York Corres- Sponge Dance School of Vancouver hosts a banquet at
Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Food” Restaurant.
“Colour Research: The Endless Painting” 1972-74. Two sets of over 1000 pieces
each of kiln dried yellow cedar are hand painted in both monochrome, full
spectrum & grayscale combinations. Designed as interactive props or
visual aids these small blocks of painted wood could be formerly arranged
& rearranged or randomly scattered in the landscape or the studio. The
work was a collaboration, including the inspiration for General Idea’s
“Colour Bar Lounge” in the “1984 Miss General Idea Pavilion”. The endless
painting was documented on film, slide, photograph & video. The images
suggest a youthful paradise where the physics of light & ever-changing
colour combinations merge into a vision of utopia. The dialogue between
culture and nature remains the inspiration for this work which in 1994 was
presented at the XX11 Bienal Internacional de Sao Paulo.
”1984” event. “Image Bank requests your image of 1984”. Responding to the
themes of Utopia / Dystopia emerging from the correspondence network, Image
Bank with a nod to George Orwell ponders what the future will bring in a
little over a decade. Two major collaborative projects result from these speculations.
The New York Corres-Sponge Dance School’s permanent work “The Great Wall of
1984”, begun in 1973, is a mural / calendar composed of 365 safety deposit
boxes each representing a year between 1620 & 1984.Each safety deposit
box contains an item sent by a different participant from the network for the
National Research Council of Canada’s office in Ottawa. The other project is
General Idea’s fantasy architecture project “The 1984 Miss General Idea
Pavilion” in which themes & motifs current in the work of network
participants would be incorporated into the design of the pavilion.
”Cultural Ecology” project. Image Bank requests “piss pics for Barbara
Rrose”. This is a response to Ray Johnson’s” Marcel Duchamp Fan Club”. The
project was designed to encourage reflection on Marcel Duchamp’s urinal as a
readymade sculpture. The art critic Barbara Rose’s name is intentionally
misspelled in reference to Duchamp’s alter ego Rrose Selavy. Two slogans
“Don’t Drink Water” and “Aesthetics Determine the Cultural Ecology” are used.
They refer to beauty, whose fleeting nature should not be thought of as
John Dowd, a N.Y.C.S. artist, visits Image Bank and collaborates with John
Jack Baylin on the “John Dowd Fan Club” and subsequent publishing ventures.
Bank produces International Image Exchange Directory, published by
Talon Books, Vancouver.
Morris and the Image Bank” contribute a correspondence section for White
Pelican, a quarterly review of the arts from Edmonton, winter, 1972.
Image Bank contributes a video to “Aktion
der Avant Garde”, Akademie der Kuenste, Berlin, Germany.
David Zack’s “An Authentic and Historical Discourse on the Phenomenon of Mail
Art” is published by Art in America vol. 61, no. 1, pp 46-53.
The Western Front, an artist run center dedicated to the production and
presentation of new art activity is founded by Michael Morris, Vincent
Trasov, Kate Craig, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, Mo Van Nostrand, Henry
Greenhow and Martin Bartlett.
Bank Excyclopedia Project” appears in IS 12/13 West Coast Issue; Coach
House Press, Toronto.
Bank Issue”, File Megazine, Special Double Issue, vol. 2 no.1 & 2
Opal L. Nations arrives from the U.K. He makes the first effort to
accession the Image Bank holdings in 1974 into an artist archive. He also
introduces Image Bank to David Mayor’s Flux Shoe project, and the work of
Genesis P. Orrige and COUM
Transmissions, Phillipe Ehrenberg and others from the U.K. interested in networking.
Sharp arrives from New York
and prepares an article on “Art & Correspondence from the Western Front”
for Avalanche Magazine. Sharp contributes the Avalanche address
list to the Image Bank master list of artist addresses.
Darling (Fat City School of Finds Arts) & Dana Atchley ( Ace Space Co.)
propose a major event bringing everyone on the network together in Los Angeles in 1974.
Image Bank sets up an image request bureau as part of a major summer
exhibition of contemporary Canadian art Trajectoires Canadiennes ‘73
at Musee D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Robert Filliou makes his first visit to the Western Front sharing news and
contacts concerning his vision of an Eternal Network & La Fete
Permanente. The discussion plans for a major network event to take place in Los Angeles,
celebrating Art’s Birthday, to be hosted by Lowell Darling & Willoughby
playwright & producer team of Ron & Harvey Tavel arrives from N.Y.C.
with protégé Harvey Fierstein. They collaborate at Morris & Trasov’s
summer residence “Babyland” on the play Gazelle Boy.
Dr Wibke von Bonin films a documentary on Image Bank & the Western Front
for German television, Cologne.
”Art’s Birthday: The Decca-Dance” is inspired by Robert Filliou’s idea of a
celebration for the birth of art. It was the largest event involving the
correspondence network. The event, hosted by Lowell Darling and Willoughby
Sharp, was staged as a parody of Academy Awards ceremony similar in strategy
to the General Idea beauty pageant. The event was well documented on film
& video by Ant Farm. The Mondo Artie script by AA Bronson and EE
Claire and accompanying ephemera were published by Image Bank as a multiple
edition. This event marked the end of the pioneering days of networking and
the beginning of what has become known as “Mail Art”.
The last & most comprehensive special art and artist directory issue of File
Megazine, “Annual Artist Directory Issue,” vol. 2, no. 5 (February 1974),
cover photo by Robert Cumming of Ben Vautier’s letter “A” These lists became
the basis for the Flash Art Diary.
General Idea’s “Blocking,” a rehearsal for the 1984 Miss General Idea Pageant
is staged at the Western Front. A film of the event is produced by Vincent
Trasov and Byron Black.
”Mr. Peanut for Mayor: The 1974 Vancouver
Civic Election”. Vincent Trasov, encouraged by fellow artist John Mitchell,
entered civic politics on the PEANUT platform; P for Performance, E
for Elegance, A for Art , N for Nonsense, U for Uniqueness and T for Talent.
This landmark event helped to define a generation of artists who helped put
art scene on the map and has gained recognition as a major work of twentieth
century performance art .
Image Bank contributes to Clemente Padin’s mail art exhibition, Montevideo, Uruguay.