Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Acts The Shelflife

The Acts The Shelfife, #1, 1986
The Acts The Shelfife, #1, 1986 (inside cover)
The Acts The Shelfife, #1, 1986 (with record insert)
The Acts The Shelfife, #1, 1986 (editorial & contributors)
The Acts The Shelfife, #1, 1986 (contributors) 
The Acts The Shelfife, #1, 1986 (back cover)

The Acts The Shelfife, #2, 1988 
The Acts The Shelfife, #2, 1988 (frontispiece) 
The Acts The Shelfife, #2, 1988 (Liz Was fold-out piece)
The Acts The Shelfife, #2, 1988 (editorial & contributors)
The Acts The Shelfife, #2, 1988 (contributors)
The Acts The Shelfife, #2, 1988 (back cover)

The Acts The Shelflife

This interview with Liz Was (1956-2004) and Miekal And took place in Dreamtime Village, West Lima, Wisconsin on August 26, 1996. The Acts The Shelfife has been published in two issues: #1, 1986 (theme: Visual Verbal Networking) and #2, 1988 (theme: Polyartistry).

Miekal And continues to publish, check out his Xexoxial Editions http://xexoxial. org/is/new_releases  This text originally appeared in "Assembling Magazines," exhibition catalogue, editor, Stephen Perkins, Iowa City: Plagiarist Press, 1997. A big shout-out to Liz Was—a wonderful polyartist who left us way too early.
Stephen Perkins: Why is the third issue still waiting to be assembled?

Miekal And: That's a good question! Because of lot of the Xexoxial projects are on hold because we've been kind of setting it up so apprentices have been doing a lot of the publishing and we haven't had an apprentice for a few years. We actually have all the material for it collected sitting in a file cabinet. So really the only thing that were waiting for is somebody to come up with a cover, to collate the whole thing, and to put it together.

SP: What was it about the assembling format that attracted you?

MA: Well, the idea with it was that it was really an extension of the mail art activities that we were already involved in, and we wanted to create a publication that extended what we were already doing in mail art and that we wouldn't have to pay all the publication costs for. The other thing was we were really interested in having pages that were hand manipulated, so really the only sort of format that's available is the assembling format, because then each artist can have complete control over their page and send it in.

SP: Is The Acts The Shelflife a book or a magazine?

Liz Was: Both and neither I would say. We have always been interested in these genres and forms that can't be labeled quite so simply, it feels like a book in the way it's bound and perhaps in the way that it feels when it's in your hands flipping the pages. It's a magazine more than a book in the sense that it involves many other people and I always think of magazines, although there are compilation books, it seems like magazines are the kind of thing that involve many others. It's unlike a magazine in that it doesn't come our periodically, but then again we have aperiodic periodicals that we've published too.

SP: I think it's also interesting the role of the editor, because really they aren't editors anymore!

MA: Yes, that was probably one of the main reasons why we were interested in it, we'd already done so much in the realm of editing that we were looking at ways to really change what the editor was about and to create a different kind of forum and, at the point when we did The Acts The Shelfife, there weren't a lot of those kinds of things out there, there were a few mail art things and Kostelanetz's Assembling and there wasn't a lot of people doing it in 1986.

SP: Would you say that Kostelanetz's Assembling provided you with a model?

MA: Our project was most informed by what he was doing and then the things that were already happening in the mail art world, not necessarily assemblings, but just the whole notion of mail art activity.

SP: Why the title The Acts The Shelflife?

MA: It comes from a poem that I wrote and it's sort of a reference actually to Charles Olson, it's a discrete reference, it's not like a quote from a book of his or anything, but it's a more certain sort of notion that came out of Charles Olson for me about projectivist verse and having texts that extend out from themselves. So my notion that collectively The Acts The Shelflife would be by people putting their things together in the same book, it would become a larger text that people sort of discretely participated in but had no idea of the final outcome of it. So the notion is that The Acts The Shelflife, the literal interpretation would be 'the acts" that somebody did and how it related to being on a bookshelf years later and people interacting with it.

SP: Did The Acts The Shelflife succeed?

LW: Yes, every time I look at the two issues we've done I feel like they're a success, in terms of diversity and they are from people from all over, I think the way there were put together is successful in that they're lovely looking and the information is there of addresses and names. People pretty much responded to the themes (#1: Visual Verbal Networking, #2: Polyartistry), although like a lot of open invitations works there are some, you know people send things they just felt like doing which didn't necessarily respond to the theme.

MA: Succeed, I don't know what success means. We're very process oriented so I think in the notion of creating a process for it to interact, it succeeded in that notion and it was never a great seller and never really, in terms of books for Xexoxial, never really generated a lot of interest. The one thing that was kind of nice for Xexoxial was normally we are very frugal with how we distribute copies of our books and stuff because we have to pay for the copies each time, so with The Acts The Shellife we felt a lot more generous with getting copies out and distributing them.