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About the InstallationGladstone 64, in collaboration with the Fondazione Alighiero e Boetti in Rome, is pleased to present Alighiero Boetti’s Tutto works. Following previous exhibits of his Arazzi, colorful grids of letters that spell out phrases, and Mappa, large world maps with countries colored with corresponding flags, Tutto is the artist’s final series of embroidered works that continued until his death in 1994.
Between 1971 and 1979, Boetti travelled extensively to Afghanistan to work with Afghan artisans in Kabul on a series of projects, producing numerous embroideries that would become some of his most iconic works. The process of working with local craftspeople allowed Boetti to address several principal issues within his practice: collaboration, material, and time.
Boetti’s interest in collaborative authorship—also reflected in his decision to split his name into the dualistic “Alighiero e Boetti” or “Alighiero and Boetti”—is substantiated through commissioning Afghani artisans to create these embroideries while remaining the author of the creative framework and system. The everyday quality of the tapestry material connects art to real life, an Arte Povera approach, and its handmade process welcomes chance and flaws in the finished work. In Mappa and the Arazzi works, time is recorded by the political representation of the maps or the dates that are part of the inscription within the work. In Tutto, time is conveyed infinitely through the endless layering of motifs and symbols.
At the end of 1979, the Soviets invaded and occupied Afghanistan, and Boetti’s production came to a halt. For the next few years, Boetti reconnected with Afghan artisans in exile in Peshawar, Pakistan, and began to work on Tutto, an image of totality that describes the notion of a world with an all-encompassing aesthetic unity. In the early 1980’s, Tutto embroideries were primarily square, with more ambiguity to their orientation and boundaries. In the second half of the 1980’s until the end of Boetti’s life, the works took on rectangular shapes or a landscape format, suggesting the compositions are sections cropped from an infinitely larger spectrum of things.
Boetti’s Tutto tapestries are filled from edge to edge with a plethora of icons, objects, and motifs drawn from the entire visible and conceivable world and arranged jigsaw-style. The chaos and disorder of diverse objects and shapes piled on top of each other in no specific order can be momentarily neutralized by decoding and identifying the color-filled contour shapes within the rectangular or square formats. The vibrant layers of embroidered imagery present infinite dimensions, with the immense collection of perspectives and scale of the represented motifs, yet they rest on a one-dimensional surface, serving as a single entry point into the panorama of human experience.
Alighiero Boetti (Turin 1940 – Rome 1994) was the subject of the major retrospective “Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan,” which originated at the Reina Sofía in Madrid in 2011, and subsequently traveled to the Tate Modern, London (2012) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012). Boetti has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Fondazione MAXXI (2013); Fowler Museum UCLA, Los Angeles (2012); Whitechapel Gallery, London (1999); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (1998); Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin (1996); Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome (1996); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1994); Dia Center for Arts, New York (1994); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (1994); Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Le Magasin, Grenoble (1993); Kunstverein, Bonn (1992); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eidhoven (1986); and Kunsthalle, Basel (1978). Boetti took part in Documenta 5 (1972) and Documenta 7 (1982); and his work was also presented in Documenta 13 (2012). He was included in the Venice Biennale in 1972, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1990, 1993, and 1995. In 2011, the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale was dedicated entirely to Boetti’s work.