This publication documents the Airmail Paintings of Eugenio Dittborn – a coherent body of work created over ten years before the creation of this catalogue. It represents the first attempt at a systematic documentation of the artist’s work, using the skills of the Chilean photographer Jorge Brantmayer.

This book may be considered as an introduction to the special exhibition Mapa: The Airmail Paintings of Eugenio Dittborn, 1984-1992 presented at Witte de With in Rotterdam (11 December 1993 – 30 January 1994). This exhibition project took the concerns of the Airmail Paintings and Dittborn’s practice of collecting, commissioning, and communicating, directly into the world of inhabitants of Rotterdam who live on the margins, and who are constantly in transit between different places.

Therefore the destination of this book goes further than a normal exhibition catalogue, as it is destined to be a face, a house, a journey in itself. Just as the Airmail Paintings of Eugenio Dittborn serve as a homeopathic vaccination against the rapid succession of jet-lags we experience in the world, and the world of art today, this publication should serve as a reminder of the continuous and universal power of the images and words, created by an artist, through which we are able to grasp and hopefully to transform the facts of the world as well as the facts of works of art.

Dittborn’s work achieves a powerful humanity. He culls images from a wide variety of sources: drawing manuals, newspapers and magazines, children’s and adventure tales, found graffiti, police records. The effect is work that is both existential and political. The Airmail Paintings had travelled to their destinations for display via the post – a conceptual component that allowed the work to travel from ‘margin’ to ‘center’ with ease and economy, and which echoed the mechanical, electronic and other means of global image transmission that so fascinated Dittborn. The themes of communication, travel, movement and dissemination are embodied in this book, reflecting the desires and obsessions of the artist.