The past weeks have been turbulent on the global front; from Brussels to Panama, the international community is abustle. Thinking about the significance of these current events and the political shifts they may create brings to mind the work of Italian Arte Povera artist Alighiero Boetti and his iconic series of embroidered world maps.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Boetti commissioned Afghani artists to embroider a series of works based on his drawings of the world’s map. As opposed to commonly found topographic maps, Boetti represented the countries of the world by the color or symbol of their flags. In many ways, these conceptual artworks serve as symbolic markers of world politics as they testify to swift changes of borders, the emergence of new states and the disintegration of others, as well as to more discreet political undertakings.
This week’s online exhibition pays homage to Boetti’s maps, and reflects on the ideas they bring forth. Through this selection of works, we contemplate the ways in which a map can represent existing systems of classification, while also embodying the temporariness of an ever-changing political climate, and ultimately, ask how one of the most concrete iterations of modern civilization can function as a symbolic entity.