– Spring 2012
Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Correcaminos VII/ Roadrunner VII, 2012
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Eugenio Dittborn, Itinerary of airmail painting #70, The 6th History of the Human Face (Black and Red Camino), 1989. Courtesy the artist
- Dittborn invented airmail paintings by accident. Happening in early 1983 to fold a large piece of wrapping paper four times upon itself, and then unfold it again, he noticed that the wrapping paper was reticulated by its folds.Dittborn’s find was no discovery at all: folding a piece of paper or cloth is the only way to reduce its surface area without tearing it. This knowledge, which men acquired in Neolithic times as they went about their occupations of guarding and burial, provided Dittborn with what he had long been searching for in his work: marks that would traverse his productions while being heterogeneous to them. And then those marks were there: the folds. In late 1983 the first airmail painting reached the world.
- Folds are the trademark of airmail paintings. It is because of them that the paintings change size and fit into envelopes like treasure into chests, children into sleeping bags, loaves into ovens and ashes into urns. The airmailness of Dittborn’s paintings resides in their folds.
- Airmail paintings, which work like compartmentalised folding rafts, inside which provisions, marks, substances and shapes are stirring, intent on coming through the calamity all about them. To do so, they give preference to systematic arrangements, storing only what is strictly necessary to start again.
- The airmail paintings arrive, and all eyes are drawn to where they hang outspread on the wall. Then they draw away as departure nears. An airmail painting is what is seen between two journeys.
- In a sense, the thing is not so much to read what is in the airmail paintings as to read what the paintings are incessantly doing: travelling.
- Envelopes contain airmail paintings as pregnant