If you would like an artist book from the RML collection, you can receive it by mail. During the COVID-19 pandemic distribution of hard copies of RML books will take place through a Mail Art exchange.
Here’s how it works:
- Send one or two original artist books, chapbooks, ‘zines (or the like) about migration to: Reading the Migration Library #204-2075 Yukon Street, Vancouver, Canada V5Y 3W3 .
- Include your name and mailing address.
- You can indicate which RML book you would like in exchange, or allow us to choose one for you.
- A photo of your artist book will be posted on this website.
- Only send books that you have had a hand in making (or on behalf of another artist or group). This project accepts original Mail Art books about migration only, not mass-produced copies about other topics.
- No more than two books will be exchanged at a time, but feel free to combine exchanges from more than one artist in one mailing or make multiple separate mailings.
It is a minimization to say that 2020 has changed the rules of our social and work worlds, and disrupted many planned actions. And yet, the year has brought opportunities, one which has resulted in this website and its contents.
Unrelated to la pandemia, and all of the anti-racist activities and protests that have demanded long overdue redress, the early part of the year included news of funding from the BC Arts Council for Reading the Migration Library. This grant enabled a new set of artist books involving collaborations with artists, Crista Dahl and Carlos Colin. The design of the books involved the work of Victoria Lum who has developed an innovative design that will hopefully continue in future books. The renewed and improved website that you are using was also enabled by the grant, channeled toward the careful and inspired design work of Deanne Achong (goodyBank).
To activate and circulate these beautiful outcomes Reading the Migration Library is adopting the method of Mail Art exchange. Mail Art, a once subversive and performative element of the avant garde and contemporary art, has often emerged as a viable method of making art and communities in response to restrictions and repressions. It’s been heartwarming to see its revival during la pandemia. SFU’s Audain Gallery mounted The Pandemic is a Portal, an online exhibition that included a mail art component hosted by mail art veteran and maven, Anna Banana. At Printed Matter Inc. in NYC, the city where much of the practice of mail art guru Ray Johnson took place, an exhibition of a COVID-19 related exchange was exhibited in the book store’s windows during the city’s shut down. Alongside the exhibition Printed Matter Inc. published a brochure covering some Mail Art history and their part in the story.
I personally credit Mail Art for nurturing my early years of contemporary art practice when I was living distant from a contemporary art community or institutions, but that is another (long-ish) story. Indeed, the concept of open and free exchange has been built into the Reading the Migration Library project from the start, and this is an outcome of my early involvement with Mail Art. So there are many good reasons to put Mail Art to action again now.
All of the books in Reading the Migration Library are produced in editions of 100, with a digital version available on this website. With a creative commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License) these books are freely available for exchange or download. They cannot be sold commercially. While supplies last, you are invited to exchange your own artist book for copies from the original edition.