Mappamondo Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940–1994)

"From the early 1970s until shortly before his death, Boetti worked with Afghan weavers and weavers in exile to produce rug-sized embroidered maps of the world, each country picked out in the colours of its national flag. You can see the appeal for a man obsessed with metaphors: a globe represented as a rectangle, land masses by shapes, geopolitics by symbolic colours and patterns which changed as countries became independent or were occupied or embroiled in civil war.  

So many systems, so much representation. And yet what strikes you about the Mappe is their imprecision, the way that human frailty inevitably wins out over the human drive to exactitude. In one map, the sea is unexpectedly coloured pink rather than blue. Landlocked Afghans had no tradition of mapping, certainly not of oceans. Having never seen the sea, they saw no good reason why it should be stitched in blue rather than pink, the latter dye being cheaper and more plentiful than the former. Boetti, reportedly, was delighted.”

~ Charles Darwent.

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