The text of the February 1984 OPEN LETTER TO EVERYBODY IN THE NETWORK (OFFENER BRIEF AN JEDEN IM NETZWERK) to which I added a headline "Phantatstische Gebete Revisited" (an homage to Richard Huelsenbeck's 1920 Dada manifesto translated from the German as "Fantastic Prayers") was created by HR Fricker of Trogen, Switzerland and I one night during Fricker's whirlwind visit to New York during the time of the Franklin Furnace show and the panel discussions at Artists Talk on Art. Hans Ruedi and I sat up all night in Cafe Orlin on Saint Mark's Place discussing our activities of the previous several years and tried to whittle the issues inherent in the mail art communication of that time down to its essence. What we came up with became the OPEN LETTER. What was sketched out on a napkin in English and German I published later that same historic week in my Panmag Number 6. The piece was a hit, especially with Ray Johnson and others, who found the "Sorry, Ray Johnson" part of the text irresistable for parody. Perhaps it was the wording of that whimsical phrase that resulted in in the fact that our simple suggestions, despite their seriousness, went more or less unrepeated or acknowledged. In retrospect they were treated as if they contained no fundamental value but I include them here because after a second look I believe they do. These words were created in an era when mail art shows were virtually everywhere and threatened mail art's tradition of personal communiation as the shows, many with dismissable themes, became the focus of the network's attention in the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, the "unwritten rules" of mail art shows also became ubiquitous in those days. I for one always found their well-intentioned but dogmatic proclamations destructive and hypocritcal in an activity that, on one hand, prided itself on unhindered freedom and a suspension of judgement in favor of democratization and a critique of institutions and on the other, endlessly touted its rules, unwritten or otherwise. So, Fricker and I, coming off several years of immersion in experimental mail art "mass" communication, presented six basic suggestions, not proclamations, about how mail art might be used to improve communication between individuals. These ideas later led to my concept of the External and Internal Network. The OPEN LETTER is accompanied by a letter from Ray Johnson, one of the earliest practitioners of mail art activity and a strong believer in the power of the one-to-one communication, announcing the "New Orleans Correspondence School". When I asked him 'Why New Orleans,' Ray, replied "New Orleans- N. O.! It's the N.O. Correspondence School. " --MARK BLOCH, 2010
Phantastische Gebete Revisited
OPEN LETTER TO EVERYBODY IN THE NETWORK:
1) An important function of exhibitions and other group projects in the network is: to open channels to other human beings.
2) After your exhibition is shown and the documentation sent, or after you have recieved such a documentation with a list of addresses, use the channels!
3) Create person-to-person correspondence. The network is no longer a school,(sorry, Ray Johnson) it is real life now.
4) You have your own unique energy which you can give to others through your work: visual, audio, verbal, many others.
5) This energy is best used when it is exchanged for energy from another person with the same intentions.
6) The power of the network is in the quality of the direct correspondence, not the quantity.
We have learned this from our own mistakes.
OFFENER BRIEF AN JEDEN IM "NETZWERK":
1 ) Eine wichtige Funktion von Ausstellungen oder anderen
Projekten im Netzwerk ist: die kanaele zu andern Menschen oeffnen.
2) Nachdem du eine Ausstellung organisiert, die Dokumentation verschickt oder selbst eine Dokumentation mit allen Adressen erhatten hast- gebra uche die Kanaele!
3) Kreiere "Korrespondenz von Person zu Person." Das "Netzwerk" ist heute keine "Schule" mehr (vergib uns- Ray Johnson) nun ist das Korrespondenz-Network wirklich.
4) Du hast deine ureigene Energie welche du andern durch deine
Arbeit vebermittelst: visuell, audio, verbal und viele andere.
5) Diese "Energie" ist am Besten verwendet wenn sie ausgetauscht wird, fuer Energien einer Person mit denselben Absichten.
6) Die Kraft des Netzwerkes liegt in der Qualitaet der direkten Korrespondenz, nicht in der Quantitaet.
Dies haben wir aus unsern Fehlern gelernt.