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Collections Browse 10th History of the Human Face (to Commission and to Collect)(Numbers 84a and 84b)

Collections Browse 10th History of the Human Face (to Commission and to Collect)(Numbers 84a and 84b)

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Courtesy Walker Art Center
Rights
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Title
10th History of the Human Face (to Commission and to Collect)(Numbers 84a and 84b)
Date
1991
Dimensions
overall installed 82.75 × 110.25 inches
Materials
painting, stitching and photoscreenprint on nonwoven fabric, envelopes
Location
Not on view

Object Details

Type
Paintings (Paintings)
Accession Number
1993.95.1-.4
Style
Conceptual
Inscriptions
see inscriptions; on both envelopes as return address “Eugenio Dittborn, Santa Rita 968, Santiago 12, Chile” rest of envelope is fillled with description of work.
Physical Description
two works on fabric mailed in large envelopes from artist. Fabric pieces consist of painted areas and photosilk screened images of portraits.
Credit Line
Gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1993

online content Museum: Background Information Walker Art Center, 2003

Eugenio Dittborn was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1943, and continues to live and work there today. He studied in Chile and abroad in Paris, Madrid, and West Berlin. Living in Chile in the late 1970s and early 1980s under the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Dittborn used his art to critique the repressive government.

In this context, Dittborn began making his Airmail Paintings around 1983. Their nontraditional format takes advantage of inexpensive materials and lightweight construction to create a larger possibility for distribution. He folds the paintings and packs them into envelopes, mailing them to all parts of the globe. When exhibited, they retain the fold marks and are shown next to the envelopes in which they came. The envelopes list the itinerary, becoming a permanent record of their travels. Each painting’s journey represents Dittborn’s own physical separation and his journey from relative isolation in Chile to the many international shows in which he exhibits.

Eugenio Dittborn, 10th History of the Human Face (to Commission and to Collect)(Numbers 84a and 84b), (1991), from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.

Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center

excerpt Literature: Isabel Allende Isabel Allende, 1985

Augusto Pinochet toppled Salvador Allende in 1973 and formed a military dictatorship in Chile. This South American country’s relationship to the world outside its borders has long been one of historic, cultural, and geographic isolation. To protest the dictatorship, democratic countries imposed a cultural boycott on Chile that lasted 16 years.

Isabel Allende, in The House of the Spirits, writes a fictional account of the 1973 coup, which she witnessed. Because of the coup, her uncle lost Chile to Pinochet, and the entire Allende family fled.

Excerpt from Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits (1985), from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.

Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center

online content Rights: Untold Stories Walker Art Center, 2003

When Eugenio Dittborn explores history, he does not consult “famous lives, exemplary deeds,” and “legendary dates.” He is interested in day-to-day social life, whether in the remains of transient events or the traces of jumbled-up narratives. In many cases, he simply enlarges the detail.

The following text is transcribed from the envelope accompanying the artwork:

The faces in red fluorescent paint were drawn directly onto the work by Margarita Dittborn at my request, when she was eight years old. The printed and sketched faces are:
1. Six mug shots of Chilean women thieves published in a criminology magazine in the 1930s, which Dittborn encountered 14 years ago in Santiago, Chile.
2. Four faces of members of the Selknam, Yamana, and Alalakwulup tribes from Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost region of South America. Martin Gusinde, a German anthropologist who lived among these aborigines in the 1920s, photographed the faces. Dittborn found them in a book written by Gusinde.
3. Four faces drawn by schizophrenic patients at the Psychiatric Hospital in Santiago. They are part of a series that Dittborn requested from the director of the hospital.
4. Five faces Dittborn commissioned from his neighbor Rodrigo Salazan.
5. Five “identikits” made by the Chilean police in 1989 and lent to Dittborn in 1991.
6. A face Dittborn discovered in a book called School Handiwork.
7. A photograph of a face–actually the profile of a skull wearing a fur cap–that Dittborn found in an archeology book dealing with the Arica culture, which flourished in northern Chile 6,000 years ago.
8. A computer-generated face commissioned by Dittborn and drawn by Margarita in 1990.
9. The profile of a face found drawn on a telephone book. Dittborn enlarged the image by photomechanical means, printed it on thin, non-woven fabric, and later stitched it onto the work. He did this for all black and white faces in the 10th History of the Human Face.

Rights: Untold Stories, from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.

Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center

online content Place: Airmail Walker Art Center, 2003

At 4 am on November 14, 1984, in Santiago, Chile, an exhibition of 10 Airmail Paintings from Santiago was opening at 6 pm the same day at Artspace Gallery in Sydney, Australia. At 10 am in Sydney on January 18, 1990, it was 7 pm the day before in Santiago, and Kinok Producciones was opening an exhibition of eight Airmail Paintings from Cuenca, Sydney, London, and Berlin.

Between 1983 and 1996, Eugenio Dittborn produced 119 Airmail Paintings and put them into circulation between remote points on the globe: Santiago; Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, and Melbourne, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Southampton, England; Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Cologne and Kassel, Germany; Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Netherlands; Antwerp, Belgium; Madrid and Seville, Spain; Rome, Italy; Caracas, Venezuela; Cali, Colombia; Cuenca, Ecuador; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Havana, Cuba; Montreal, Banff, Edmonton, and Vancouver, Canada; Miami; Chicago; New York; and Boston.

On a map of the Earth, this movement is like large-scale writing: these miles and miles of brushstrokes are paint hanging from the sky in an aircraft that never stops arriving.

Place: Airmail, from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.

Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center

artist statement Artist: Eugenio Dittborn Eugenio Dittborn, 1992

“A certain vertigo is produced by these … jumps from one face to the next, from one technique to another, and between the different places in which I found each face. So that as each Airmail Painting travels, there are journeys within the work itself: the enormous distances between one face and the next.”

“I would say that my work consists of two forms. The first occurs while they are being moved from one place to another through the international airmail network, folded and in envelopes. The second occurs once they arrive at their destination, when they are unfolded, hung up, and exhibited next to their empty envelopes. The Airmail Paintings are not conceived for only one space that acts as their support. They are conceived to be doubly supported: in the first instance by the international airmail network through which they circulate (the airplanes, customs checks, and postmen serve as their support producing their circulation). The Airmail Paintings are also supported by the receiver or destination: the walls of the exhibition space to which the works have been sent. The Airmail Paintings generate a problem in the exhibition space, since every exhibition takes place in a fixed spot. In this regard they are different from the tradition of artwork produced for a specific site. Airmail Paintings were conceived for at least two specific sites: that of the sender and that of the receiver, as well as for overcoming/producing the distance between the two.”
–Eugenio Dittborn, 1992

Eugenio Dittborn on 10th History of the Human Face (to Commission and to Collect)(Numbers 84a and 84b) (1991), from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.

Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center