Between the 1950s and seventies, Oscar Masotta (Buenos Aires, 1930 – Barcelona, 1979) was a key figure in the transformation of Argentina’s cultural scene. However, to date his work as a disseminator of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and his active links with the counterculture during the four years he lived in Spain have been less obvious. His multiple and polymorphic interests included art, literature, comics, politics and psychoanalysis. From ideas such as the avant-garde, dematerialisation, discontinuity and the environment, Masotta constructed the tools for thinking about the categorical turn taking place in contemporary art.

Perhaps the most relevant appropriation is the term ‘dematerialisation’, the main theme of the text that we publish here. Masotta discovered it in an article written by the Russian Constructivist El Lissitsky in 1926 and published in English in the Marxist magazine New Left Review in 1967. But while the Russian dwelt on the enormous energy released by the invention of the telegraph compared to the earlier postal service, the Argentinean seized upon the notion to investigate the displacement toward conceptual experiments that were then being undertaken by the avant-garde in Argentina, such as the Antihappening (1966).

This essay accompanies the exhibition Oscar Masotta: Theory as Action, curated by Ana Longoni and presented at MACBA from March to September 2018. It forms part of the book La revolución en el arte, edited by Ana Longoni and published by Editorial Mansalva, Buenos Aires, 2017, and is taken from the lecture given by Oscar Masotta at the Instituto Di Tella, Buenos Aires, in July 1967.

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