Boetti: a caption (2009—2010)

Commission for The Bigger Picture Project. Tate Modern, London. UK

Caption for Alighiero e Boetti, Mappa del mondo (1978) (2009–10)

At first, I just see that this Map of the World was one of the last made for Boetti by Afghan women before the Soviet invasion in 1979 prevented his ever returning to a place he loved. After more than thirty continuous years of international and civil war, it seems a silent and sad geopolitical artifact.

Then, a mother and daughter arrive, smile at its beauty, tracing with their fingers the route from the Mother’s birthplace to London. Others stop by and find their own tracks in Boetti’s map. Soon it is full of life, traveling again.

Now, I remember that when Boetti returned home to Italy, he would take the maps out of his bag, smelling of goats, and tell his young daughter Agata stories about how war changes flags and maps and the color of the sea and people’s words for things and even the embroiderers’ threads.

Flying carpets first offered to a child, after a while, Annemarie Sauzeau Boetti writes, in the Umbrian grass, the tapestries would float like distant oceans, like mountains higher than the Appenines.