Image Bank

Archive available at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver: Morris/Trasov Archive fonds. Information:;rad. Years of operation: 1969-1978 Morris and Trasov founded the Image Bank in 1969. The Image Bank was a system of postal correspondence between participating artists for the exchange of information and ideas. Since 1967, Morris (and later Trasov) corresponded with Ray Johnson, considered to be the founding father of mail art. Johnson had founded the New York Correspondence School in 1962, and this no doubt influenced Morris and Trasov’s establishment of the Image Bank. In fact, the artists were included in Johnson’s 1970 New York Correspondence School exhibition at the Whitney Museum, New York. The Image Bank commenced sending lists of participants and their image requests, published first in monthly Image Bank mailings and later in FILE magazine – a reference and antidote to LIFE magazine – as directories and Request Lists, and maintained files of artists’ correspondence and research. The intention of the Image Bank was to create a collaborative, process-based project in the hopes of engendering a shared creative consciousness – in opposition to the alienation endemic to modern capitalist society – through the deconstruction and recombination of its ideological forms. Ultimately, “Image Bank never officially closed its doors. The end came in 1978 after the publication of the Image Bank Postcard Show. This was a box of postcards that could be conceived of as an exhibition destined for the mail. Just as LIFE magazine sued FILE magazine to cease and desist the appropriation of its logo, a New York company called Image Bank threatened suit against Image Bank, stalling distribution of the postcards through bookstores and gallery shops.” (Scott Watson, “Hand of the Spirit: Documents of the Seventies form the Morris/ Trasov Archive,” University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery: Vancouver, 1992.) (Source: