Guillermo Deisler´s UNI/vers

Guillermo Deisler's formation was not very different of that of many young artists who, toward the 60s, were emerging in the scene of the Latin American art, marked to fire by the more important social-political factors in the history of our countries, after the independence struggle of the past century. The Cuban Revolution was the point of departure of nearly all our generation and guided and impelled us in the struggle for eradicating the social differences on behalf of a just and solidary society.

Already, toward 1967, we were exchanging our publications. Deisler was sending me his Ediciones Mimbre and, from Montevideo, I was sending him "Los Huevos del Plata". Afterwards, it would go "OVUM 10". The circuit was completed, by these homes, with the magazines "Diagonal Cero" and "Hexagon" of the Argentine poet Edgardo Antonio Vigo: "Processo" and "Ponto" of the Brazilian processists guided by Wlademir Días-Pino; "La Pata de Palo" edited in Venezuela by the already expired Dámaso Ogaz and the very Cuban "Signs" that was co-ordinating Samuel Feijóo from Santa Clara of Cuba. All were magazines of experimental poetry or of "new poetry", as we were calling it in those days.

In that time, around the end of the 60s, the center of our artistic activity was the controversial question of the languages, above all, of the verbal language. We were attributing to it the adverse function of guaranteeing the regime, by covering with a veil the scars and social malformations that was provoking the outstanding economic system. We were thinking that, through its pristine representation function of the reality, the language was exercising, on the truth, a deformation that was adjusted as a glove to the needs of legitimation of the system; that is to say, it had been converted, not into a communication instrument but into a subordination instrument of the people, to the service of the social sectors that were benefitted from such situation. The truth was no longer the concept adapted to the reality, but was depending on "the elegance in the expression" or on "the authority and power of whom was speaking". It was, precisely, to that activity of denouncing and breaking with the verbal language myth, to which we should dedicate ourselves in the experimental poetry and above all, in the visual poetry.

The first manifestations appear in the cited publications and, in particular, in the expositions of the "Nueva Poesía" that spread these revulsives trends, first in La Plata, Argentina (1968) and, at the following year, in Montevideo, Uruguay. The Experimental Poetry Anthology that with the name of "Poesía Visiva" was editing Deisler in his Ediciones Mimbre dates from 1971. Also, by those years, we dedicated ourselves to the incipient circuit of Mail Art that, a short time ago, had been created by Ray Johnson and the Fluxus Movement. Particularly, this activity resulted to Guillermo, already exiled in Bulgaria, from capital importance, to be kept abreast of all what was occurring and of the artistic movements that were being generated.

Let us hear to Deisler himself: "For the Latin American people - and we are already quite a number of creators that, voluntarily or impelled by political circumstances, have been obligated to the exile community - Mail Art becomes the palliative that neutralizes this situation of "expired citizens", as has considered to call the Paraguayan writer Augusto Roa Bastos to this massive emigration of 'workers for the culture' from the South American continent".

With those artistic supports, the graph, the visual poetry, the Mail Art and, afterwards, the scenery, he knew how to develop and to expand his exceptional technique of engraver, for which he was considered one of the best of the world.

He will also be remembered by his editorial labour - not only by the excellence of his "handmade" issues, above all in his Chilean period through Ediciones Mimbre, but, furthermore, by his magazine "UNI/vers", with 35 numbers. This magazine was accomplished under the sign of the co-operation and artistic interaction that joined hundred of international creators of the most assorted technique and formation.

The singular situation Guillermo Deisler's life places him as the fruit as well as the encounter of multiple cultures: that of his family ancestors: the German; then the Chilean - the autochthonous cultures mixture and the cultures of the conquerors-, the Araucanian Indians, the mapuches, the natives, etc; afterwards, the encounter with the millenarian Greco-Latin cultures in his Bulgarian exile community and, finally, the return to the culture of his "grandparents": the German.

Let us listen to Deisler again: "Perhaps by the same personal experiences, an integration sense of many cultures or cultural features was developed in my work as a natural posture, as also a way to observe the facts as the interaction of an infinity of factors. Because it had been mixed in myself the so diametrically opposite - but, perhaps, complementary - cultures of my forebears: on the one hand, the acceptance of the foreign element and, on the other, the rapid assimilation that in front of the absence of pressures and tensions are expressed in a living together that gives the character to our no identity".

In Deisler all those cultures are concentrated and expanded, generating a multifaceted and universal being, the prototype of the "networker", in whom all those expressions live together in a kind of an individual plural culture, in spite of the apparent contradiction.

Is it, perhaps, about the artist in the " global village" ? Precocious expression for the decomposition of the local cultures or of its "hybridization" with the metropolitan cultures (according to the sociologist García-Canclini)?

The work of Guillermo Deisler marks that brutal opposition: we assist to the culture globalization of the countries of the first world. This will determine the disappearance of the old and/or far away cultures from the rest of the world, which are not prepared either to defend themselves or to face the uncontrollable extension of the massive media. Precisely, under the stone of the unquestionable reivindication of a universal language and the irrestrictable communion with everybody and with everything - unrenounceable principle of the network - is hidden the crab that will swallow all those communities - defenseless and fragile as compared to the satellites, modems and computers - that can not be integrated on their own to the "international style".


The post-industrial capitalism has little interest to preserve some nuance in the sonority of a back vowel, for example, or the meaning area that could assume a local speech; for the only things that touch capitalism are the sales of its products. As a testimony of what is going to disappear, the work of Guillermo Deisler seems to have an application (including the handycraft of his preferred technique: the engraving); not only the images and senses of his homeland, Chile, but, also, the classic and millenarian ones of the old Europe, which now are being substituted by the models of Benneton walking along in some Disneyland, wearing a Robert Lewis, eating a Hamburger at McDonald's and drinking a very cold Coke. Woe to the conquereos!

Clemente Padin

text by Clemente Padin - translated by Gioconda Moreno - visual poetry by Guillermo Deisler - published first by Hans Braumüller in "A tribute to Guillermo Deisler" portfolio - Germany 1996.