iuoma.org – Interested in Mail-Art?

welcome to the International Union of Mail-Artists. This Blog gives you information and links to all activities undertaken by Ruud Janssen, who started with Mail-Art in 1980 and is still active.

Outgoing to Ryosuke Cohen – Japan

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During the last month August 2015 I received 3 more Braincells from Ryosuke Cohen with the numbers 920, 921 and 922.  The process of his gigantic project goes quickly. In a few years he will reach number 1000. That is why I keep sending him envelopes to keep track of the process and to support his project

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for more details about the project visit the special group on IUOMA at NING:


You can find there lots of samples of Braincells published by receivers, and normally also the lastest one that came up in the network. Already saw number 923 when looking there!

Incoming from Richard C – USA

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Received this card and 3 others from Richard Canard in July / August 2015. I was abroad when he sent them to me, and I decided to publish the complete collection since it is so interesting.  The first card (above) was torn by the postal system in The USA, so the put it into a plastic bag:

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The second card tells you what happens when you join the IUOMA. Richard has some views of what the IUOMA has brought to the network. It has become a central place to communicate in the mail-art network, but there is also a complete network besides that

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The last card is visually atractive because Richard writes white on a black card…….. Specially choosen for me, so I am honored….

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Bacause I enjoy seeing Richard C.’s card, I made a special group in the IUOMA network so others can publish their card there as well. Quite a collection there already:


So have a look, and if you have received a card from Richard C. please include a digital copy in this growing archive!





(c) 1997 by RUUD JANSSEN.

Originally this text was written February 1994.

Life is a process of changes, at least it is like that for me. When I look back I can see how gradually these changes come about, but also I can see the real turning-points in my life. Only after those things have happened you can realize the full importance of things in your life.

To my surprise, mail-art so far has speeded up this proces of changes, and also my view of mail-art is changing rapidly. Surely also mail-art itself is changing in my eyes, but this is not an objective thing to say.

What I have learned through mail-art could repeat itself for someone else in another period of time. The mail-system itself hasn’t changed that much, although the way of life has……..

Evolution. For me, for the world, for mail-art there is also evolution. In my perception mail-art has changed enormously. Only personal mail now triggers me to respond. The xeroxes and chain-letters, the non-personal invitations to mail-art projects that look so much like that other project from years ago, the open letters with only my name written on top of the letter, and the rest turns out to be another xerox. It doesn’t inspire me anymore. I’m not looking for more contacts in the mail-art world, I’m only looking for time to do the things I would like to do. It fulfills me now more to write one long letter to a dear mail-friend, than to mail out 50 postcards on one day. I’m not interested anymore in keeping in contact with hundreds of people, but I value the personal contacts more then ever. It doesn’t matter if the mail is from a new or old friend, if it is personal I always try to answer promptly.

Evolution. When I started to write this text I had an idea where it should be about, but while writing it, my thoughts have shifted again. As one gets older one thinks more about what is really important in once life. Is it success, being rich? No, I already found out (many years ago) that respect by others is worth more then mo ney. Friends are more important than being succesfull and well-known. Making something you like yourself is more important than making something that is liked by others. Yes, you learn a lot when you live. A pity only that not everybody lives in their life (according to my definition of living).

Evolution. The process of changes. No mail-art anymore from East-Germany. Simply because the country ceased to exist. The mail-artists who lived there are still there, but their drive to communicate has changed. New ways are open, and their mail has changed. Hardly any mail-art from all those new countries (Russia, Ukraine, Sloveni a, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, etc….) because the inflation just makes commu nication almost impossible. Still hardly any mail-art from Africa. Only when the war- zones are on television mail-artists sometimes write about the situation.

Evolution. In former Yugoslavia, part of Europe, the most horrible process is taking place, and everybody is watching it on television. Only one letter from Bosnia in this war-time got out through Serbia into the world. And there is no way we can answer that letter. Also because the mail into Bosnia doesn’t work anymore. Only mail to UN-soldiers arrives, but where which Bosnian lives, we don’t know anymore……

Evolution. I don’t know how to write this letter. I probably print it a few times and will mail it to some of my close friends. Maybe they can help me with this story, and then I can change the text so I understand what I want to say……………..

Words are difficult tools when thoughts are changing. But words are powerful because the words in between the words you write are also there….

This text is changing as people react to parts of it. M. Greenfield from England listed a number of phases which mail-art has gone through, of which I have selected a few of the negative phases to discuss:

Chain-mail: A couple of years ago the mail-art network was flooded with these. According to Greenfield it has now become less. In my eyes it hasn’t. I think it has to do with if you participate in them or not. People who are looking for addresses to send copies to always look on older chain-mail products to pick a name….. But I agree that a couple of years ago it was really flooded.

Visiting-phase: Started in 1986 , and in 1992 the congress-year. Mail-artists are on the move and try to visit each other. If the wish to meet is mutual , there is no problem , but some mail-artists ‘use’ the network to find places to travel to.

Buy this: People started to try to sell things through the mail-art network. I guess this phase will come and go every time again. The old discussion of Lon Spiegelman (USA) , “money and mail-art don’t mix”.

Fake Mail-art shows: People start a mail-art project , and promise lots of things. Finally the organizer makes a show and a wonderful catalogue and offers it for sale to participants. Greenfield hopes this phase dies out quickly. And it will when mail- artists just don’t buy the catalogue and ignore future projects of this person.

Yes , I recognize the changes that M. Greenfield is mentioning. On a larger scale evolution always goes with quick changes forward and backwards, some are good and the ones listed above are bad…..(are they?). Only when you see things is a right time-perspective you can see how things are changing. But maybe I have to change this text again (and I did….!)

Evolution. Mail-art has a certain meaning in my life, and I know it has another meaning to another person. There are a lot of networkers out there , but only the ones you like you stay in contact with.


Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn’t changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine/book where the text is included in, is sent to:

TAM / P.O.Box 1055 / 4801 BB Breda / NETHERLANDS.


Lecture in Maastricht – 2011


This is me, giving a lecture in the Hedah in Maastricht, Netherlands. Organized by Rod Summers.

The complete details:


29 April – 24 June 2011
OPENING: 29 April, 21.00h
FINISAGE: 24 June, 21.00h

OPEN: Fri-Sun 13h-17h


Having just returned from Italy in 1972, the artsits Theo van der Aa and Ger van Dijck established in Maastricht the widely recognized initiative Agora Studio which was one of the leading art initiatives in the Netherlands until the 80s.

With astounding projects from all around the world and self administered art publications, Agora accomplished a central role within an international network of artists working with former avant-garde expressions such as performance, video-art, mail-art and sound-art.


Round table discussion with amongst others Guido Goosens, Theo van deer Aa, Ger van Dijck and Rod Summers, broadcasted live on Amsterdam cable television as part of ‘De Hoeskteen Live a cross media workshop’ initiated by the Amsterdam artist Raul Marroquin.
Music by Legal Fiction: Rosalie Wammes, Lucas Kramer, Martijn Riksen and Emmanuel Riksen

13.00h M2M
Mailart-project initiated by the Maastricht artist Rod Summers
15.00h Reading by Caroline Dumalin, art critic (English)
15.30h Reading by Anna Banana, mailartist (English)
16.00h Performance by Anna Banana
21.00h Mailart performance by/amongst others
Anna Banana, Rod Summers, broadcasted live on De Hoeksteen Live

Mailart-project initiated by the Maastricht artist Rod Summers
15.00h Reading by Bart-Jan de Graaf, assistent-curator of Museum het Domein in Sittard (Dutch)
15.30h Reading by Leen Bedaux, art-critic (Dutch)
16.00h But is it art? Performance by Anna Banana

Mailart-project initiated by the Maastricht artist Rod Summers

15.00h Reading by John Everaers / Ever Arts, artist, studio owner, editor (Dutch)
15.30h Reading by Ruud Janssen, artist, publisher, founder of the IOUMA and the Tam Rubberstamp Archive
16.00h Performance by Niels Lomholt

21.00h Performance by Joep Vossebeld, Frank van Valderen and Jörg Theissen, broadcasted live on De Hoeksteen Live