A Shaved Head goes around the World
In 1987, I went to America and Canada with my shaved head, and then in 1990 I travelled around Europe, from London to Leningrad. In 1993 I went to Italy and Finland. As I travelled, I was welcomed by many mail art artists who wrote their messages on my head, or projected slides or even films on it. In fact everyone was ready to welcome me with their ideas.
In 1988, a student of mine brought me a copy of a magazine that he had found in the pocket of a seat on his JAL flight from Tokyo to Paris. It was a kind of guide to Japan, illustrating the beauty of Buddhist temples, giving information about typical dishes and so on in English. But among the other things, on the cinema pages, one of the curiosities listed was the chance to see a film projected on my head, and there was even a hand-drawn illustration. Unbeknown to me, my shaved head was flying around the world.
In 1987, I sent the mail art artists a sheet of paper with a rear-view outline of my head and a message inviting them to do a piece of work on it. I had around 500 answers. The fact that the responses were so numerous is due to the network system used in mail art, where it is quite common for the artists to copy and reinterpret the original content, print it again, and then send it on to other artists and so on. [...] One day, a very particular piece of mail art arrived.
It came from France, and the author was Pascal Renoir, even if the original was by the Dutch artist Cor Reyn who had photocopied my head and included a message inviting others to add something of their own. Well, Renoir had added photocopies of ten more reduced outlines of my head together with the invitation to add something, and he sent it to me too. I couldn't help laughing when I saw it. The piece of mail art I had sent had multiplied, the number of heads increased, and after various wanderings it had come right back here to me with a note saying "Why don't you take part too?"
There are no property rights in mail art. In fact the spirit is exactly the opposite, as everyone is supposed to invite others to use the content freely. In this way, it is possible that without my knowledge one of my works can be altered, enriched with new ideas, and come back to my address. The American Cracker Jack Kid even sends 3D models of my head.