Selected Letters

The P+S Project was recently awarded a grant from the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation!

 

In July, I was awarded an East Bay Fund for Artists grant from the East Bay Community Foundation towards the completion of The Positions and Situations Project books and a public presentation in the East Bay. This grant is a match fund grant, which means I need to raise the awarded amount of $7,500 on my own by November 30th to receive the funds from EBCF. I'm using Kickstarter's all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform to help me reach my match goal. 10% of all the donations to my match fund and the EBCF award go to my fiscal sponsor Pro Arts to fund their important programming and exhibitions. Thank you for your support!

 

Make a pledge here!

 

 

 

About

The Positions and Situations Project is a series of 100 letter correspondences between artist Alex Arzt and individuals who placed classified ads in 1970s magazines published as resources for back-to-the-landers such as The Mother Earth News, whose classifieds were called “Positions and Situations.”

 

The magazines are a product of what is known as the Back-to-the-Land Movement of the 1970s. After the tumult of the 1960s counterculture, many young people were disillusioned with the political system, the Vietnam War, consumerism, and pollution and were looking for both a way out and an alternative. Many were seeking land and a community to test out the ideals and experiments they cultivated during the counterculture and hippie years. From the late sixties through the mid seventies, one of the largest urban to rural migrations in American history occurred. Progressive minded twenty-somethings left the cities in droves for rural areas to start homesteads and join communes.

 

The ads were “designed to help would-be back-to-the-landers get in touch with folks already out there” and were required to have a “country slant.” The 100-word P&S ads are vignettes into the dreams, goals, and desires, both practical and impractical, of a cohort of people in their twenties seeking the lifestyle The Mother Earth News promised. Full names, addresses, and ages of the ad-placer are often listed, and Alex used that information to search for their current address on public records search sites. Her initial letter form to the ad-placers has evolved as her own situation has changed and as the project developed, but from the beginning, it has asked two questions: What came of the ad? Did you find what you were looking for the year the ad was placed? The letters encompass the failures and accomplishments of the back-to-the-landers in imagining and creating alternatives to a society they understood as fundamentally broken.

 

Volume 1:1968-1973 was printed on a Risograph, whose lineage comes from the Mimeograph and Gestetner, two processes once used to print underground and alternative newsletters, magazines, and posters. Looking a lot like a copy machine, the Riso offers a do-it-yourself, economical process that prints one color of ink at a time using a thermal cut screen from a digital image. Given the size and scope of The Positions and Situations Project, it will be printed in three separate volumes. Volume 2 will cover years 1974 to 1975, and Volume 3 will pick up the rest of 1975 and finish up in 1976, the final year of the Positions and Situations section and the beginning of the end of the Back-to-the-Land Movement.

 

All letters are copyright their respective authors and are published here with their permission. Please ask before reposting images elsewhere.

 © Alex Arzt 2017