Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of important works by Alighiero e Boetti. Born in Turin in 1940, Boetti became associated with a group of artists whose groundbreaking work Germano Celant would feature in his exhibition “Arte Povera” in 1967. Both acutely logical and touchingly personal, his work realigns the structures of culture along conceptual principles based in part on assumed linguistic and numerical codes. Throughout his various works covering a broad aesthetic terrain, there remains a system: Whether deconstructed, or merely reordered, Boetti configures methods of communication and dissemination to elaborate upon the personal, social, and political intersections of daily life.
In his I Gemelli works begun in 1968, Boetti altered photographs so that he appeared to be holding the hand of his identical twin. This doubling and, crucially, division prefigure Boetti’s renaming himself Alighiero e Boetti. In separating his first and last name, becoming Alighiero and Boetti, he exposes the dual nature that structures identity, symbolically dividing himself from his name. He said: “While a name is unique, a surname is already a category, a means of classification . . .” His work searches to pry open the hand-holding dualities inherent in the communication of ideas, but also serve to examine how difference and opposition supply meaning.
The fluctuation that he recognized in all systems permitted Boetti to re/solve the surrounding world. In his “Biro” pieces, phrases emerge not from contiguous patterns of letters but from an holistic approach to alphabetical annotation. Meanwhile, his “Mappa” works course the very ordering of the world, tracking the geopolitical changes that shifted cartography between 1971 and 1994. The sources and materials he used remained common from ballpoint pens to magazine covers, and in keeping his antecedents recognizable, Boetti directs the viewer to reconsider the notions of order and disorder structuring the surrounding world. Just as Boetti commissioned Afghan weavers to embroider the “Mappa” series, the viewer of his works becomes complicit, and essential, in the completion.
Alighiero Boetti’s solo exhibitions include: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; The Venice Biennale; Kunstverein Münster; Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; DIA Center for the Arts, New York; The Institute for Contemporary Art P.S.1 Museum, New York; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin; Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Alighiero e Boetti died in 1994.