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The International Union Of Mail-Artists (I.U.O.M.A.) was a name invented by Ruud Janssen for a fictive Union which would stand for the rights for all mail-artists. In 1988 the I.U.O.M.A. (the Internation Union of Mail-Artists) was founded. Only one union-magazine came out (in 1991) and after that no central activities were undertaken anymore. But still I get mail addressed to the union (even today!). For those people I prepared this short text to inform them about what it was all about and give them some details. It seems the UNION or the NETWORK will never die because people just need to cummunicate in a creative way and want to explore all the possibilities...

Ruud Janssen

Concept text written in 1988. Text originaly published in August 1990 and reprinted December 1995.

NEW : the IUOMA has it's own e-mail address now!


Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn't changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine where the text is included in, is sent to: TAM / P.O.Box 1055 / 4801 BB Breda / NETHERLANDS.

  1. THE IDEA.

    After reading a lot about Mail-Art and participating in the Mail-Art network for some time everybody understands the unwritten rules that excist in teh network. Also everybody familliar with these rules knows that the first time one sends out a 'piece' of mail-art one has become a mail-artist. So one has joined the network just by participating. For outstanders this isn't that easy to understand , espescially when they don't know what Mail-Art is all about. For these outstanders I invented the I.U.O.M.A. as a kind of joke. Also for the Postal Offices around the world something like this should be a nice thing to play with. For insiders the name I.U.O.M.A. is nothing new , except for the word 'Union' which implicates that it should be an orga nised whole. This might be a thought for the future , but is not the intention for this name for the time being.


    To proclame the idea I wrote a standard letter which told what the Union was 'all' about. Also I asked people to take a special function in this union. Most mail-artists understood is was a joke. This resulted in a number of 'members'. Members are all persons who write to me as the "general-president of the I.U.O.M.A." or to the union itself. So people who apply to become a member become a member just by applying. Some mail-artists understood the joke perfectly and returned the membership-form with a claim for a special functions.

    To name a few:

    	Ruud Janssen : General-President.
    	Keith Bates : Treasurer.
    	Gina the Pig : MA-President.
    	State of Being : Sergeant at Arms.
    	Rora & Dob Kamperelic : Lawyer of the Union.

    These first functions worked very well, I even used them in the -in between- documentation-letters I made for the I.U.O.M.A.. Keith Bates published a year-ac count as treasurer, and J. Spireoux wrote an angry letter to the Belgium Postal Office and in this letter he mentioned he also send a copy of his complaint to the I.U.O.M.A.

    Pascal Lenoir (France) writes on all his mail-art magazines that he is a member of the I.U.O.M.A. after he found out the meaning of the Union-name.


    Some reactions the I.U.O.M.A. got are worth mentioning:

    1. Someone in Seattle, Washington, USA, was writing an article about mail-art for the local newspaper (The Seattle Times) and took the 'Union' as a real thing. He wrote in the article that people, who are interested in mail-art, could become a member of the union, and should write for info to the address mentioned at the bottom. For the reactions to this article I made a few special forms to play a bit further. A very complex aplication-form was designed (see for examples in the first I.U.O.M.A.-Magazine). People who filled this form were in fact applying for a living- space in my P.O. Box in Tilburg, and had to give lots of details about their private life. The form was only ment as a joke to see how much information people would tell to such an Union.

    2. In the country Tui-Tui the 'Hoipoloi Soy Ifgog asked the I.U.O.M.A. for recogni zing the brothersisterhood as local #1 of the Union. He also writes: "The IUOMA should foster debate on the topic of help to countries where mail-art isn't that easy to do.

    3. In Leningrad (USSR), The RAFT-group has founder the Russian departement of the IUOMA in March 1991. In August 1991 I visited Leningrad together with Made Balbat and Reiu Tüür (from Estonia) and I was welcomed as the General-President at the railway-station there. (The coup in the USSR took place two days after we left Leningrad and were back in Estonia, which became independent a few days la ter.....)

    4. Lon Spiegelman from USA designed a special pamphlet for the union in which it took stand against the Art-Strike. (there actually where two versions, one for and one against the strike to make it possible for people to take either side)

    5. I got lots of requests from people to give official documents to people so they could proof that they were a member of this union. I designed Stickers (5000 red stickers were scattered into the network) and membership-cards, letter-paper, etc....

    6. Piermario Ciani (Italy) designed a logo for the Union and John Held Jr. (USA) made artistamps for the Union with this logo. (Piermario lateron used the logo with permission for the starting of the congres-year in 1992)


    In the future anybody who has proclamed to be a member of the I.U.O.M.A. can use the name of the union as a kind of joke/presure for the official institutes. I myself have planned to write seriously to the postal offices in Holland and other countries to protest when the postage rates are going to be increased , and things like that. The membership-list (all names and addresses of people who reacted on the idea of the I.U.O.M.A. was pubished in the first and only I.U.O.M.A.-magazine that came out middle of 1991)


    The I.U.O.M.A. was no project but started as a kind of joke. Like more jokes , they spread around very quickly and the result is that now most mail-artists know about this joke. If you want to use the name of I.U.O.M.A. , you are welcome to do so. But please use uniform lay-out and things like that. Also the logo of the Union has to be used to let the joke work. If you use the I.U.O.M.A., please send a copy about it to me. If you want to use the logo and you don't have a good Xerox-original , just write to me and I'll send you one.

(Ruud Janssen , Aug. 1990)

Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn't changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine where the text is included in, is sent to TAM / P.O.Box 1055 / 4801 BB BREDA / NETHERLANDS.

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