Beyond the written word. By Olga Martínez, invited curator
Within the framework of Sintonías, the works of Mirtha Dermisache make Fundación Proa’s space their own. Tables, shelves and stands will give the viewer/reader the opportunity to look at/read and travel the world of graphisms the artist has been developing since the sixties.
Dermisache's work is conceived of as a sort of writing. It was Roland Barthes who included her in the category of "illegible writings" and it was the artist herself who made clear "this does not mean anything." But that she does not want to say anything does not mean it ceases to be a work with full rights, in the words of Barthes. These same writings or graphisms are manifested in formats that are common in communication, including books, letters, articles, journals, postcards. This, apart from reinforcing the idea of writing, gives it some framework for readability. At the same time, in their materiality and in their expression through gestures, her works do not let us forget that their origin is in the field of visual arts, more so than any conceptualization.
In perfect agreement with the destination of her works, the artist adopted an approach of multiple diffusion, including the publication and its proper forms of circulation. For this fundamental reason, one of the accents in this intervention is placed on a publication as important as Diario Nº1, Año, 1972-1995, a work that had great impact on the world of graphics as well as displaying a strong political commitment. This piece, made available to the viewer/reader and put into dialogue with a selection of original works conceived before or simultaneously with this publication, will put on display the richness of the artist’s work, both as it pertains to the graphic world and in the variety of different formats in which it is etched.
Reinforcing the above, we return to this central point in Dermisache’s work: the multiple and her decision on how to make known the reproductions of her original works. It is important to point out something from the publishing criteria offered by the artist and jealously respected by those who have been her publishers: the work must not have any printed word, only a removable cover note without which there would be no reference to the author, publisher, or collection, thus achieving absolute autonomy. This is where the work takes on its full meaning, reaching a point where the publication displaces the original -manuscript- to begin its route through the channels of the publishing world. It is as such that in the Proa Bookstore the artist's recent publications will be sold, made available to the visitor to touch, read, and buy, and as such creating a space to link the publication and the viewer/reader.
This intervention also has two recent works from the series Public readings and Mural texts. The particularity of these works is evident in their format and purpose. It is no longer an intimate text that one must sit down to read, but rather something that demands to be looked at/read by the visitor from a very public space, despite the fact it will not impose itself with loudness, but with the subtlety of its ink and pencil tracings.
A curatorial text presides over the Bookstore, designed by the artist to initiate and encourage the public in this particular form of reading, that they may accept the challenge and let themselves be seduced by the journey of the tracings, finally to reach what Roland Barthes once called the pleasure of the text.
(1) Barthes, Roland (1989), "Variations on writing," in Campa, Richard, Writing and the etymology of the world, Buenos Aires, Sudamericana
All works are courtesy of the artist
Diario Nº1, Año 1, 1972
Offset print on paper, 47.5 x 36.5 cm, 8 pp.
This work was made to be published by the Center for Art and Communication (or CAyC, in Spanish), directed by Jorge Glusberg, and displayed in the exhibition Art and Ideology CAyC in Open Air, within the framework of Art of Systems II. It was inaugurated in September 1972 and demolished by the police and municipality for its political content criticizing the government of Lanusse and alluding to the recent Trelew Tragedy (August 1972).
The artist’s creative process incorporates graphisms developed mostly in her books prior to the Diario, and includes a story that allows the intervention through writing of any viewer who is so disposed. Furthermore, there is a clear symbolic reference to the act of mourning represented by a black rectangle. Taking into account the cultural horizons of those politically agitated years, the symbol made explicit what had been happening just months prior to the completion of the exposition.
Guy Schraenen, its European publisher, also suggests a political reading of this and other works of illegible graphisms in times when society is silenced by coercion.
The piece has been published on five occasions: CAyC, 1972; Mirtha Dermisache, 1973; Guy Schraenen, 1975 (Antwerp); Artinf, 1974; Mirtha Dermisache, 1995.
Besides Diario Nº 1 , several other works are also presented: books, postcards, loose works, short stories, etc., which correspond to the development of different graphisms in this variety of formats of communication. The original work makes evident, among a number of details, the presence of color that from 1967 onwards was designed with the sole intention of avoiding a decorative interpretation of her work.
Mural text, 2009
Ink and pencil on paper, 70 x 100 cm
Public Reading No. 3, 2006
Ink on paper, 59.5 x 72.5 cm
The Public readings and Mural texts series are works begun by the artist in early 2005. The particularity of these works is evident in their format and purpose. It is no longer an intimate text that one must sit down to read, but rather something that demands to be looked at/read by the visitor from a very public space.
In the retail sector of the book store are available the publications of two of these works: Public Reading, 2005, and Public Reading No. 3, 2006, published by Florent Fajole (for Le clou dans le fer), Reims and Mirtha Dermisache, respectively.
Cutting plotter on vinyl, 150 x 150 cm
A curatorial text in the Bookstore space intervenes in the institution itself with its graphisms, designed by the artist to encourage in the spectator this particular form of reading.
The piece was designed especially for this occasion in the traditional format of curatorial presentation texts.
Mirtha Dermisache was born in Buenos Aires in 1940. She studied visual arts at the Manuel Belgrano and Prilidiano Pueyrredón National Schools of Fine Arts, respectively.
In 1967 she finished her first 500-page book, afterwards continuing with the development of her graphisms, which continues to this day. Her works were published between 1970 and 1978 by the Center for Art and Communication, led by Jorge Glusberg.
In the 70s her graphisms were published by Marc Dachy and Guy Schraenen in Antwerp and were also published in the magazines Flash art, Doc(k)s, Kontext, Ephemera and Ax. Additionally, Ulises Carrión exhibited her works in the gallery Other books and so (Amsterdam), and Roberto Altmann did the same in the Malmö Konsthall (Sweden). During this same time, she created the Workshop of Creative Actions in Buenos Aires.
Starting in 2004 and together with Florent Fajole, she carried out a series of publishing devices that explore the dimensions of the installation and the printing process, highlighting different conceptual aspects of publications in the same spatial reality.
Her first solo show in Buenos Aires was in the gallery The Edge. Later, she exhibited her work at the MACBA (Barcelona) and the Center Pompidou (Paris).
Texts and Links
El imperio de los signos. By Guillermo Saccomanno
Suplemento Radar, Página 12, 15/8/2004
Poesía y signos de puntuación. By Belén Gache
Fin del Mundo. A raíz de la presentación del libro Perdón, imposible, de José Antonio Millán
Centro Cultural de España, 26/9/2005
Tejidos esponjosos. By Arturo Carrera
Xul, n°3, diciembre, Buenos Aires