by George Wolf
In a digital age that often renders letter delivery nearly irrelevant, there exists a group of people who use “snail mail” to express themselves artistically and establish deeply personal connections across the miles.
Making Mail, a Kickstarter-funded documentary from Columbus-based filmmaker Michael Polk, does a good job of doing what good documentaries do: uncovering a world you probably know little, if anything about. Through interviews with mail artists and numerous examples of their work, we’re introduced to a thriving community anchored in the intimacy of letter writing.
As one artist explains, “It costs 46 cents and really brightens someone’s day,” a sentiment which seems to be shared by most everyone involved in mail art. The common thread appears to be rising above social awkwardness by imaging the positive response the mail art gets from the person it is sent to, even if the artist is not there to see it first hand.
Polk is also effective at showcasing the paradox that the internet presents for ambitious mail artists. Their craft may be steeped in traditional modes of communication, but the most efficient way to make themselves widely known is posting their work online.
Though Polk grabs your attention to his interesting subject immediately, a repetitive vibe creeps in around the 60 minute mark, suggesting a bit of editing and a reclassification as a “documentary short” might benefit the film long-term. The sound editing could use some work as well, as the volume of the background music rises and falls, and then sometimes vanishes completely mid-segment.
But credit Polk with shining an interesting light on a little-known segment of the art world.
You can watch Making Mail online HERE.