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When he became infected with HIV, Ulises’ followers and well-wishers were eager to find an outcome that would guarantee Other Books And So Archive (OBASA)’s continuity. They suggested public and private collections willing to take it into their holdings and even some “friends” started setting up a Foundation to keep the Archive in Amsterdam so that it could be run there in the future.

Obviously this was not Ulises’ wish and to the general bewilderment (and my own!) he entrusted OBASA to me, asking me as a favor, to move it away from Amsterdam and to assure its dispersion. He knew I could easily grant his request since I lived in Geneva, Switzerland, as an antiquarian specializing in avant-garde publications.

I then became the intruder who was going to snatch OBASA from its unconditional fans and, logically, would be rewarded with the animosity of them all.

Even if Ulises and I were good friends, I wasn’t involved in his activities and although I knew the people in his entourage, I didn’t associate with them. I was just a spectator of his private and professional life (like he was of mine), the person with whom he could exchange confidences and gossip safely. I was familiar with his minor and more serious troubles and with who or what was bothering or embarrassing him.

Far from being his “greatest work of art”–as the Archive was labeled by his fans–OBASA was actually the backdrop of his art practice, which had little to do with an archivist’s job. Finally, he realized that the Archive was slowing him down and in 1982 he confined it to his apartment where it stayed until I brought it to Geneva in 1990.

I really don’t know exactly why Ulises decided the Archive wasn’t going to outlast him.
 He had registered OBASA as a non-profit Foundation[1] to get financial help from the cultural institutions and launch projects and publish a bulletin, but he only got negative answers[2] and this annoyed him deeply. Adding that to his perception of the ephemeral quality of things and of processes, I wasn’t surprised by his decision to put a definitive end to this project.

At the present moment, the contents of the Archive itself, i.e., the books, magazines, artifacts and material related to Mail Art sent in by artists, have been scattered throughout the world.
 His personal archives, viz., his bookworks (published as well as unique copies), original pieces from his Mail Art projects, original visual works, ephemera, correspondence, and diaries, notebooks and other documents of the projects that illustrated his incursion into the wider area of Culture, are mostly in the funds of the Archivo Lafuente, in Santander, Spain.

However, I have kept in my possession his personal papers: manuscripts and typescripts of published as well as unpublished theoretical and literary writings, for which I am the legal owner of the rights.[3] I have established an inventory of this material: Ulises Carrion’s Papers.

In my mind, the backbone and the spirit of OBASA had been his personal input. His theoretical and his literary texts testify to his originality and perspicacity, which are of paramount importance to the understanding of the late avant-gardes.

This only will tell us who Ulises Carrión really was.

Juan J. Agius

Geneva, April 2016


[1] Registered with the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce on January 1, 1982, with the number S 202104 under the name Other Books and So Archive Foundation.
 Appearing before the notary Jacob Stuijt:
 Ulises Carrión, president, Juan J. Agius, Secretary and Aart van Barneveld, treasurer.

[2] Specially Kunstzaken Gemeente Amsterdam, Amsterdamse Kunstraad, Ministerie van CRM and Prins Bernhard Fonds.

[3] I legalized my situation as successor to the rights of Ulises Carrión Bogard by submitting a file with signed attestations by witnesses to ProLitteris Agency, Zürich, who accepted it and of which I have been a member since 2005.

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