(UPDATE: The exhibition was reviewed by Holland Cotter in the New York Times. Read the review here.)
Though it spans decades, the archive is named after Wayland Rudd, an African-American actor who moved to Russia in the 1930’s, to escape the racism he faced in the U.S.
I was very interested in the postage stamp images in the archive, and chose to respond to those. There are Russian stamps depicting Nelson Mandela, a raised Black Power fist, and several variations of idealized, racially diverse groups of children and adults. I turned those stamp images into stationery letterhead for a mail art project. Participants were asked to respond – in words or visuals – to the story of Wayland Rudd and its aftermath, in relation to their own identity and our present moment. Respondents include artists, antiracist organizers, scholars, and performers.
I hand made envelopes for participants to use to mail back their responses in. Each envelope is a fragment of a large photo of Wayland Rudd and his Russian wife, Paulina Marksiti. After the envelopes were mailed back to me (stamped with vintage Paul Robeson stamps), I reassembled the photo fragments. The gallery installation includes this large image – sewn into clear vinyl – alongside a binder of participants’ mail art responses.
Artists in the exhibition: Ivan Brazhkin, Michael Paul Britto, Suzanne Broughel, Maria Buyondo, Zachary Fabri, Joy Garnett, Alexey Katalkin, Kara Lynch, Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Nikolay Oleynikov and Arkadiy Kots Band, Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya (Gluklya), Jenny Polak, Dread Scott, and Haim Sokol
"Mail Conversation (For Wayland Rudd)" by Suzanne Broughel, 2014
Materials: Laser prints on paper, vinyl, binder containing correspondence.
Top photo: courtesy of Louis Chan Bottom photo: courtesy of Ray Llanos
Mail Art Participants:
Yevgeniy Fiks, Megan Malone, Tracy Ann Essoglou, Dr. David J. Leonard, Ph.D., Rebecca Rubin Akan, Oshin Akan, Gretchen Adreon, Dr. Mark Naison, Ph.D., Dr. Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D., Uraline Hagar, Zac Henson, Vaugh Spann, Elizabeth Sturges-Llerena, Anna Berg, VanOs, Carrie Stetler, Nicky Enright, Noelle Lorraine Williams, Tobacco Brown, Dulcie Canton, Elizabeth Morgan, Miles Partington, Jerry Gant, Carl Hazlewood, Mary-Jackelyn Downing, Heng-Gil Han, Russell G. Jones, Jordan Margolis, Kimberly Becoat, Nikki Schiro, Erika Pettersen, Swati Khurana, Mona Kamal, Tattfoo Tan, Anthony Newton, Larry Yates, Edwin Gonzalez, Lawrence Graham-Brown, Coco Lopez , Shantrelle P. Lewis, Jodie Lyn Kee Chow, David Terry, Shani Peters, Elz Cuya Jones, Ray Llanos, Louis Chan, Jaret Vadera (plus two anonymous participants)