Until February 5th, the Museo Reina Sofía of Madrid, exhibits a great collection of works by Alighiero Boetti (1940 – 1994), an Italian conceptual artist, considered to be a member of the art movement Arte Povera. Many of his pieces are maps embroidered by artisans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a result of a collaborative process leaving the design to the geopolitical realities of the time, and the choice of colours to the artisans responsible for the embroidery.
From wikipedia: “For me the work of the embroidered Mappa is the maximum of beauty. For that work I did nothing, chose nothing, in the sense that: the world is made as it is, not as I designed it, the flags are those that exist, and I did not design them; in short I did absolutely nothing; when the basic idea, the concept, emerges everything else requires no choosing.” Alighiero e Boetti, 1974
That’s why the sea is painted in red, pink or yellow; while they were doing their work, the artisans didn’t know what meant the area with no-assigned-colour. Although as it has been said by the expert in Boetti with whom I have visited the exhibition, they even didn’t know the meaning of the whole image.
Boetti was a conceptual artist, but his work is also visually rich and joyful. Being a coproduction, after Museo Reina Sofía, the exhibition will travel to the Tate Modern and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Highly recommended.