This exhibition revolves around the work of Argentine artist Mirtha Dermisache (Buenos Aires, 1940-2012), from her first book produced in 1967 to her final pieces produced in the 2000s. Dermisache’s body of calligraphic works entailed what Roland Barthes called “illegible writing”; starting in 1971, that French critic took great interest in Dermisache’s art, pointing out her ability to get at “the essence of writing.”

Dermisache was more concerned with the publication of her works than with the idea of the original. Her production lies somewhere between visual art and writing; it encompasses books, letters, texts, diaries, postcards, and other formats as it experiments with the expressive potential of the line rendered by hand on paper. Though she was associated with the Grupo de los 13, the Instituto Di Tella, and the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC), she largely worked alone to produce an intimate body of work.

The exhibition combines publishing devices and their manipulations with original works to interrogate the most abstract facets of writing, like the question of time, musicality and rhythm, the visual nature of handwriting, the search for meaning, writing as system, and the relationship between handwriting and typography. The exhibition also evidences the artist’s creative processes, including legible texts and exercises, as well as her extensive work as an educator at the Taller de Acciones Creativas (TAC) and in the six editions of the Jornadas del Color y la Forma (1974-1981). The exhibition project is based on research in her personal archives, which will also be on exhibit to provide context and to reconcile seemingly opposing tendencies in her production like notions of discipline and freedom of expression, edition and original, the mass-scale and the individual.

The exhibition catalogue—a joint production of MALBA and Fundación Espigas—will contain original texts by Agustín Pérez Rubio, artistic director of MALBA; Guy Schraenen, editor and founder of the Archive for Small Press & Communication (A.S.P.C.); writer and poet Belén Gache; and Lucia Cañada.