Sea Mail

Packaged ‘Sea Mail’ items waiting to be shipped at the post office on Nisyros island

Realized in the context of Sterna Art Project’s ‘Island Hopping’ venture that saw five artists travel from the Dodecanese island of Nisyros to four other islands linked to it by regular boat connections (Tilos, Symi, Rhodes and Kastellorizo), ‘Sea Mail’ took the form of a cabinet of curiosities containing natural and manmade wonders found on all these islands: a sulphur-coated branch gathered near a volcanic vent inside the Stefanos crater on Nisyros; obsidian and pumice stones from the nearby island of Yiali; peacock feathers collected at the Plaka beach on Tilos; a sponge possibly from Symi; and fake castle path stones coated in Nisyrian ‘porcelain’.

These were exhibited at Casa dell’Olivo on Kastellorizo, accompanied by bilingual labels and the envelopes in which they had been shipped, bearing a (fake) blue ‘sea mail’ sticker modelled on the ‘air mail’ one. The Aegean is one of the few places left where mail is still delivered by boat, having been largely superseded by ‘air mail’ elsewhere in the world. Sea or surface mail is now used solely for transporting non-urgent items. This project stems from my longstanding interest in outmoded, even defunct means of communication and in mailer art.

Installation view from the ‘Island Hopping’ exhibition
at Casa dell’Olivo on Kastellorizo, 8-26 August 2019; Photo: Anthony Bale