In his essay “N.N.: aUTOPsIA (rudimentos teóricos para una visualidad marginal)” the poet and theorist Ronald Kay (1941–2017) discusses the work produced by Eugenio Dittborn (b. 1943) in 1978–79. Kay mentions certain aspects, such as the use of technical resources (photography and/or screenprinting), the material nature of the works, and the images that create multiple meanings which the artist both deciphers and proposes. This essay was part of the catalogue that was produced for the exhibition of Dittborn’s works that was supposed to have been presented at the CAyC (Centro de Arte y Comunicación) in Buenos Aires in 1979, but which did not take place after all for political reasons. These texts were later included in Del espacio de acá (About This Space, 1980), the experimental book they jointly produced—a landmark event for both of them—in which Kay expressed his theory about the emergence of photography in Latin America. [For more information about this book, see the following articles in the ICAA Digital Archive: “Addenda” (doc. no 749244) by Kay and “Caja de herramientas” (732125), Dittborn’s review of his own work].
During this period of his career, Dittborn was profoundly influenced by Kay’s role as both a reader of and writer about his works, just as, without his artistic ideas, Kay would have been unable to unfurl his artistic vision. This kind of relationship between theorist and artist was typical of the contemporary experimental production that took place in Chile after the 1973 coup d’état. The works that Kay reviewed relied on screenprinting to reproduce photographic images (mainly portraits), which gave them a certain material quality. These images, taken mostly from magazines and archives, were then interspersed with calligraphic and printed texts and random blots. Dittborn’s Aeropostales (which, from 1984 were his best-known works), included all those characteristics as well as an ability to travel, envelopes, and a distinctive grid pattern. [For more information about these works, see: “Correcaminos” (735214) by Dittborn; “Una política” (735205) by Gonzalo Muñoz; “Por miradas” (735231) by Gonzalo Millán; see also “Eugenio Dittborn: Doblemente geográfico. A propósito de la pintura postal” (734740) written by Nelly Richard].