Selected Writings

Mirtha Dermisache

Edited by Daniel Owen and Lisa Pearson

In our current environment, it is difficult to look at [Dermisache’s] work and not think about the impossibility of discourse, the primacy of self-expression, and the fallacy of a shared objective language, not to think of this art as both radically political and necessary today.

—Will Fenstermaker, The Paris Review

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I “write” (inscribe) my books, which are perfectly illegible, and that tenuous structure of “gaps” is filled as soon as it reaches the “reader.”  —Mirtha Dermisache

Argentinian artist Mirtha Dermisache wrote dozens of books, hundreds of letters and postcards, and countless texts. Not a single one was legible, yet, in their promixity to language, they all resonate with a mysterious potential for meaning. Using ink on paper, Dermisache invented an array of graphic languages, each with its own unique lexical and syntactic structure, laden with poetic and sometimes visceral suggestion. Some writings feel like nets or knots or or transcriptions of seismic waves; some are scrawled with seeming abandon while others are meticulously inked in a refined, almost musical script.

Selected Writings is Dermisache’s first collection to be published in the U.S. and includes sixteen texts and two complete books from the early 1970s, a particularly rich period for the artist. Dermisache intended her writings to be published, disseminated and read, rather than exhibited as singular works of art. Prioritizing the intimate relationship between reader and text, she published her work in variety of editions during her lifetime, including tabloid-sized newspapers and as (textual) contributions to journals. In keeping with Dermisache’s intentions, Selected Writings is a beautiful object, designed to have a distinct kinship to a book of poetry and to allow the work to speak for itself.

Praised by Roland Barthes in the early ‘70s for the “extreme intelligence of the theoretical problems related to writing that [her] work entails,” Dermisache’s graphisms suggest both an abstract “essence of writing” and a concrete democratization of written forms—an elaborate exploration of the possibilities for ink and page to make a represent thought. Every piece of writing is open to each reader’s unique sense of signification.

The subtlety and rigor of her work—her writing without words, typography without text, drawings without images—make Mirtha Dermisache an essential artist—not just of Argentinian art, but also of what we have come to call international visual poetry. 

—Philippe Cyroulink in the exhibition catalog Because I Write!

 

MIRTHA DERMISACHE (b. Buenos Aires, 1940–2012) was a visual artist whose rigorous inquiries into the “essence of writing” resulted in a prolific body of work at once deeply experimental, magentically beautiful and insistently democratic. Her work was introduced to North American audiences by the beloved exhibition “Drawing Time, Reading Time” at The Drawing Center (New York) in 2014. Other group shows include “elles@centrepompidou” at Centre Pompidou in Paris, “In the Margins of Art: Creation and Political Commitment” at MACBA in Barcelona, among many others. Her first major retrospective “Because I Write!” was recently mounted at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires in 2017. “Mirtha Dermisache: The Otherness of Writings” is open now at Henrique Faria Fine Arts in New York City and runs until January 20, 2018.