There’s a lot of Arthole to love, but my deepest love is reserved for the piece by Donnalee Downe titled The Mailroom: 59 Love Letters.
It really is 59 letters, 59 from-real-life-written-to-Donnalee love letters, each hanging, carefully catalogued and labelled, from a taut wire running along one wall of the gallery. We patrons are invited to become a part of the art by reading, editing and/or shredding any of the letters.
As Arthole is mounted in the basement gallery of The Guild, mere steps from the Reinventorium, I resolved to spend a little time each day reading a few of the letters. I made it through 5 minutes before I had to suspend the plan: the letters were just too difficult to read, too self-involved-20-year-old-angsty, too I-ache-to-see-your-breathy, too much a reminder of my own love letters from back in the day.
Which left me seeking another way of engaging with the piece.
So this morning Oliver and I hauled my little Doxie scanner down from the office to the basement, scanned the letters and envelopes from August 1982, came back upstairs and made a book. It’s called 0882 and it’s a different kind of slicing and dicing of the raw material. It was really fun to make.
I printed off three copies at Staples this afternoon – their 39¢ colour copies did a nice job of this, and the cerlox-binding-machine at Robertson Library did the rest – and left the books in the “edit bin” downstairs in the gallery. Where, I suppose, they are now a part of the piece too.