Monday, January 26, 2015

AIRMAIL PROJECT: Conversations through Posting Art

Almost a year ago, Lara Salmon emailed me about joining the Airmail Project.

Saba and Lara exchange looks.

She and I met during our first year in AUB’s Studio Arts program in 2005, and as luck would have it, we both lived in Los Angeles and flew in that year to Beirut. While we worked together on an art project in that time, the chance at collaborating again was a happy surprise.

In Lara's email, Richard Watkins opened the idea for the Airmail Project with this:

I saw this mostly as a chance to make something outside of my Studio Arts program, but in the end I was hooked to the idea of working with other artists on more than one artwork.

What better way to start things off than in the style of an “exquisite corpse”?

What is the Airmail Project?

The Airmail Project is an example of what artists can create together through long-distance postage.

Each artist had to start a piece, and then send it a second artist to work on it, who then had to send it to the third and final artist to complete the piece, and then send it back to Los Angeles.

As a result, there are 16 pieces in total - 15 of which made it to the shows in LA and Beirut, and 1 of which to this day is stuck in customs.

Richard was excited, for the longest time, about receiving packages with personalized notes, holding an item that is given to us for a short while and belongs not just to one of us.

These works highlight the conversation between the artists by showcasing the solutions each artist reached in contributing. Without getting into detail, the basic narrative of stages the artwork went through is as follows: within a given time, the first, second and third artist had to do something with the piece before sending it back.

The outcome

These works show the solutions each artist reached when they contributed to the artwork and the conversation between the artists. Many of us faced different challenges of meeting the requirements of the narrative, and had trouble meeting the deadline or lost the parcel before the first show in LA (still stuck in customs, the piece titled "Sleeping" missed its 1st and 2nd show).

Messages were exchanged between artists on Facebook. In this case, "Sleeping" was ill-fated. 

But the artwork made it this far! After passing through several locations, a fish in sea’s COMMUNITY space is the current place displaying the pieces. Amin Al-Dada, director of the space, helped relentlessly with arranging the show, designing the poster, and putting word out for the show - for free (considering the mileage on these pieces and the collection of stamps we have gathered, “free” is a much desired word to come across).

Amin Al-Dada, director of COMMUNITY, and Lara set up the show.

In the future, we might hear about the next two shows happening abroad and with them the start of a similar localized project. Will our own Lebanese / Regional Airmail Project take off some day?

Our own Airmail Project

I invite everyone to help initiate this project here. With the same process, the same narrative to follow, anyone practicing and/or specializing in art – painting, illustration, sculpture, silkscreen, etching, calligraphy, tattoo, photography – and writing can participate! Conversations through artwork between artists are short-lived, if it is practiced at all. This way, I think we can be a part of a globalized effort to celebrate each other as artists.

For further information and discussion on initiating a local-to-regional Airmail Project, please contact me at 03901269, or email me at

To find out more about the Airmail Project, the participating artists and its beginnings, please visit An article about the show in Los Angeles is available at

A few of the artworks on display.

About the space: 

a fish in sea is a company based in London, Beirut, Cape Town, and The Gold Coast offering design solutions for print and web. The Beirut-based company hosts art shows regularly in their joint space COMMUNITY for anyone who practices or aspires to a career in art – including painting, illustration, sketching, sculpture, art workshops, and more. For more information about the space and availability, please call +961 1 739 977, or email them at

About the author: 

Saba Sadr is an artist living in Beirut who works in community-based art projects. Her work is available for display on her blog pages at and

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