Mail Art Exhibition at SFMOMA

At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), a recent exhibition featured the work of over 20 international artists to illustrate how images have been created and sent out to the world from the 1880s to the present day.

Here are a few snaps I took that I’d like to share from the “snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks” exhibition:

In 2009, David Horvitz took a picture of his head in a freezer, posted it online, and encouraged others to do the same using the hashtag #241543903. You could say it was the start of memes or of content going viral.

recreating David Horvitz’s ‘241543903’

Most of us take pictures with our phones, right? That means our images are literally trapped on our devices or in the cloud! So seeing the physical representation of digital photographs is just mind blowing!

Erik Kessels – “24HRS in Photos” (2011)

I wondered:

1) do the people whose photos on Flickr were printed out have any idea they became a part of this art piece?

2) do the photographs touch the floor or are they on a stand of some sort to give the impression of height and depth?

3) if these pictures are from one day and from one image hosting service, then what would this exhibit look like if we printed photos uploaded to all the social media sites?

In 1997, Philippe Kahn was credited with taking the first digital cellphone photo and sending it through a link. It was the birth picture of his daughter, Sophie. The wall caption says, in part, that the computer and camera shown above are the “original material he used to create and send the photograph.”

I’m thinking 1997 wasn’t even that long ago! At the same time, I wonder, How did I live without a cellphone camera? How did I live without the ability to instantaneously share pictures across the world? Blogging, for one thing, would have taken much longer!

I can’t resist a lovely carte postale

Believing that “Postboxes are darkrooms, too,” Peter Miller sent SFMOMA a series of undeveloped photo paper in special photosensitive envelopes. It culminated in a work the artist calls, “Dear Photography”:

Peter Miller – “Dear Photography” (2019)

As a collector of picture postcards and a creator of mail art, I was thrilled to see this exhibition!

The fine print on the exhibition’s introduction label reads, “Photography encouraged”

Snap and share. Done!

When you receive these images, tell me what you think in the comments below! 😉

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