Mettere al mondo il mondo - 1975 - penna biro blu su carta intelata
Alighiero Boetti – or Alighiero e Boetti as he liked to sign his works from 1971 – was born on 16 December 1940 in Turin, Italy. The son of lawyer Corrado Boetti and violinist Adelina Marchisio, he began his career as a self-taught artist, after having briefly studied Business and Economics at the University of Turin. In 1967, the Christian Stein gallery in Turin offered Boetti his first solo show, within a context marked by the recent birth of Arte Povera. The young artist was subsequently invited to take part in all group exhibitions around this theme, that paved the way for total freedom of artistic expression, and in shows on Conceptual Art such as When attitudes become form at the Kunsthalle Basel in 1969. The latter marked Boetti’s detachment from Arte Povera in favour of conceptual experimentation through duplication, symmetry and multiplication. His works then focused on codes of classification and communication, working with numbers, maps and alphabets, playing with a variety of materials and techniques, reminiscent of ancient Asian craftsmanship. Boetti’s passion for Afghanistan began in the early 1970s with a few trips that later turned into long stays, and in 1971 Boetti and his wife opened the “One Hotel” in Kabul. During this time Boetti began working on the Mappe (Maps), entrusting the realisation of his famous tapestries to Afghan female embroiderers. The colours and shapes of the flags changed according to the world’s geopolitical context at the time of the realisation (1971-1994). Kabul inspired another famous series entitled Frasi messe al quadrato (Squared sentences). After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (December 1979 – February 1980), the discontinuation of the production of tapestries led him to work with Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan (as from 1986). A great traveller, Boetti spent long periods in different continents. Countries like Ethiopia, Guatemala and Japan inspired him to create his Lavori postali (Postal works) with local stamps. Evoking the passing of time, these pieces were based on the mathematical mutation of the stamps and on the unpredictable adventure of the world’s postal services. The revolutionary aspect of Boetti’s work was the creation of a paradigm within which to act for the people involved in the creative process, thus radically questioning the role of the artist and the impact of chance, sequence, repetition and authorship in the creation of a work of art. His work and attitude have strongly influenced the next generation of artists in Italy and around the world.
Edited by Laura Cherubini