Click the images above to view, download, and create your own version.
One component of Johnson’s mail art practice was his distribution of “templates” with the instructions “Please Add To.” The artist would send these photocopies of his original drawings en masse via USPS, instructing recipients to “Return To Ray Johnson” or forward to someone else entirely. Upon return of work, Johnson would typically photocopy and recirculate the altered versions or add them to his archive.
As a special homage to Johnson in the year of the 20th anniversary of his passing, several of the artist’s mail art “templates” will be placed back into circulation. This will serve as a call to action for the next generation of Johnson enthusiasts and a point of entry for the rest of the public. Performa asks all participants to simply “Please Add To and Return To” (via USPS or though social media, using the hashtag #PleaseAddTo) – in celebration of the life of the man that The New York Times described as “one of the most revered underground artists of the last half of the 20th century.”
Templates will be placed as ads in monthly art publications, college newspapers and distributed digitally as PDFs. Altered templates will be accepted on a rolling basis by Performa, and ultimately posted to a page on The Ray Johnson Estate’s website. The first template circulated will be Johnson’s The Starn Twins, upon which recipients are invited to complete a fractured pair of the artist’s signature “bunny” drawings. This appeared in the April 2015 issue of Art in America and is also available by clicking here. Click the images above or visit Performa’s website for additional templates.
Performa is a multidisciplinary non-profit arts organization, founded by art historian RoseLee Goldberg in 2004, dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of 20th-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the 21st century, engaging artists and audiences through experimentation, innovation, and collaboration. Part of Performa’s mission is to present a biennial of visual art performance in New York City that illuminates the critical role of performance in the history of art as well as its enormous significance in the international world of contemporary art. The Performa 15 biennial dates are: Nov 1-22, 2015.