Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s

Feb 11–Jun 3, 2012

Eugenio Dittborn (Chilean, b. 1943)
Pertaining to Clothes, Airmail Painting No. 50, 1986
Cotton and photo silk screen on wrapping paper
Collection of Ted Bonin
Fashioned from lightweight paper and sent through the postal service from one exhibition site to the next, Eugenio Dittborn’s Airmail Paintings have been in perpetual circulation since their inception in the 1980s. It is because of this mobility that the works escaped the censorship and surveillance that art was often subjected to in Dittborn’s native Chile under the dictatorship of President Augusto Pinochet (Chilean, 1915–2006). Airmail Painting No. 50 features a grid of historic mug shots from Chile’s Bureau of Investigations, anonymous faces stripped of personal identity and subjected to the state’s disciplinary regime. Dittborn’s captions reveal a whimsical classification system—one row for “thieves,” another for men “without hats”—that points to the arbitrary exercise of state power under authoritarian rule.