“This exhibition will be the first by a U.S. museum to investigate the unique oeuvre of this highly influential Latin American artist (b. Santiago, Chile, 1944). Following an early career as a painter, graphic artist and creator or earthworks, Dittborn began at the height of the Pinochet military dictatorship to produce works that would circumvent both the state censors as well as the cultural boycott imposed on Chile from the outside. Produced from imagery whose range includes historical engravings, old police photos, drawings by schizophrenics and current mass media, the airmail paintings, once made, are folded and placed in customized envelopes, which are then exhibited alongside the works.”
“Scattered, sent from one city to another throughout the world, the Airmail Paintings have been constantly on the move since 1983. This publication, Remota, is intended to accompany two major exhibitions of these works. The first—entitled Remota, like this book—will open at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York in February 1997. The second—called 26 Airmail Paintings—will be held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago, Chile, during 1998.
All the paintings being shown—including the earliest ones—have been in constant circulation. For example, “Airmail Painting No. 33, Pieta (no Cor),” was produced in 1985 and has been traveling ever since, last arriving in Santiago in May 1996. During its eleven years of journeying, it has passed through Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, East Berlin, Cleveland, Chicago and New York. Because of this, Dittborn’s Airmail Paintings do not easily lend themselves to a retrospective exhibition. The important thing, with any given painting, is not so much the date of its production, as the dates of its multiple journeys. Nor, strictly speaking, does the return of these works to Santiago, as their place of origin on the periphery, mark a homecoming, or their next journey to the metropolis of New York a culmination. Rather, they pass through these cities just as they have previously passed through Havana, Sydney, or Amsterdam, because the primary state of Dittborn’s works is the state of transit.”