Michael Bidner and Clemente Padin
This artistamp by artist Michael Bidner announces the first international philatelic (stamp collecting) exposition and bourse (convention-style sale) of artistamps at the Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario, entitled Artistampex. Aside from representing a landmark moment in the history of artistamps, this stamp draws a direct connection between the poster stamps of the turn of the century and the more recent form of artistamps. The image is an advertisement for the exhibit- essentially a poster stamp about artistamps.
Thomas Michael Bidner was a stamp collector and mail artist from Canada. He is known for compiling his sourcebook the Standard Artistamp Catalogue, which was intended to bring mail artists and stamp collectors closer together, and recognize artistamps as philatelic items. He gathered work from artists in over 33 countries, and in the process of identifying the new artists’ stamp genre, he developed the term "artistamps" that remains today.
Another tie that we have found between poster stamps and artistamps is their symbolism and iconography. Both share the goal of conveying a message to their viewer, and certain universal images have remained effective years later. This German poster stamp shows an antiwar image through the symbol of a broken gun. Mail artist Clemente Padin also depicts the broken gun in his politically charged stamps, created at least fifty years later.
Padin is a performance, video and mail artist from Montevideo, Uruguay whose work makes use of the communicative and revolutionary aspects of the mail art form to present political and social injustices. His essay The Options of Mail Art outlines several ‘options’ that mail artists can choose from:
"Mail artists can opt for social values already in existence or they can change the codes of social communication. Mail artists can qualify or try to measure the different mechanisms of control within the system, or try a new form of representation that will enable artists to question all established knowledge. Mail artists can reproduce work only for the art market that includes all work that is permissible, or propose works and texts that question the aesthetic, social and political status."