Correspondance Mail Art and Literary Appropriation in the 1920s Jan Baetens and Michael Kasper Correspondance was one of the first Belgian Surrealist serials, produced over seven months in 1924 and 1925 by three Francophone writers, Paul Nougé, Camille Goemans, and Marcel Lecomte.1 It was made up of twenty-two single-sheet tracts whose short, dense texts critiqued contemporary literary personalities, tendencies, and events. Each issue (a4-size, approx. 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches) was distributed by post to around a hundred recipients, thus making it an early example of mail art: direct, anti-commercial, inbred, and visual--as the tracts were printed on and named for different colors, and purposely set in a modernist typeface. Correspondance was also ahead of its time in its use of literary collage, and it was influential; a direct line can be traced from Nougé's practice of plagiarism, launched in Correspondance, through détournement, the Situationist concept, to notions of appropriation popular in writing and art in recent decades.2 The magazine didn't last long, nor was it widely known--not surprising given its intentionally marginalized publication history, its elliptical style and obscure content, and its origin far from Paris--but it was an intriguing and subtle intervention in twentieth-century culture.
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Oct 11, 2013
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