A mail art project by Anna Banana was included in SFU Galleries’ response to the pandemic-related closures that affected their programming, beginning in mid-March, 2020. By June 22, they were ready to launch the online action, The Pandemic is a Portal. Over the course of the exhibition period, participating artists’ works were featured on the galleries’ IG account and on their website. The entire project is still available to view online, but each participant also received this summary ‘zine in our mail boxes this month. One of the artists’ projects was Anna Banana’s open mail art call, which generated work from 47 participants. Each mail art contributor was generously included in the mailed distribution of the final ‘zine.
Many of the works in The Pandemic is a Portal deal with the double-acuity in our current time –a viral pandemic and a long-due race-reckoning, something highlighted in the curatorial introduction. A few of the pieces also considered the impossible challenges of interaction and exchange, for which Anna’s mail art offered a nostalgic response. Carmen Papalia and Heather Kai Smith’s Score for a Temporary, Collectively-Held Space describe activities that model “the premise that interdependence is central to the radical restructuring of power” and “…consider each other. You and the communities that you belong to are vital. The magnetism that brought you together, [are] a form of access intimacy.”
And, Cecily Nicholson’s
a voice that will clamour is a set of a poetic letters drafted to the missing workers on a farm (garden) that is run in conjunction with a local penitentiary, but is pictured as needing community maintenance–including Nicholson and other prison abolitionists–while the pandemic keeps the inmate workers more incarcerated than ever. Her words reach out for the collectively-held space of contact that is essentially refused by incarceration and impossibly compounded by la pandemia,
We’ve not met
. . . . “
Lois Klassen, September 17, 2020