Acquired from the above by the present owner
This concept of twinning the process of creation extended to Boetti’s self-presentation. In 1971, Boetti inserted the letter ‘e’ between his ﬁrst and last names: Alighiero e Boetti, A & B. In the same year he taught himself to write ambidextrously, which culminated in a performance piece where he wrote forwards along a line with his left hand and backwards with his right, with the two pens meeting in the centre. Similarly, in 1968, Boetti manipulated a photograph to create an image of himself and his ‘twin’ holding hands in a park. Franco La Cecla sees all these works as attempts to remove his own authorship, to be the space in between names: “we might say that he decided to be that &, as the place where identity was lost and established anew” (Franco La Cecla cited in: Jean-Christophe Amman, Ed., Alighiero Boetti: Catalogo generale, Vol. II, Milan 2012, p. 35). Duly, the number eleven, with its twinned digits, 1 and 1, constituted another visual play. The division of Ononimo into eleven panels can thus be seen as a form of self-portraiture within Boetti’s constantly self-referential practice.
The present work serves as a testament to the wildly inventive and varied practice of Boetti. The Biro works as a whole operate on two levels, the mechaniaation of the production of the work, and the standardisation of the ‘ononymous’ agent. However, behind the faceless artisans who make the work, stands the artist who claims authorship of the concept. This distancing mechanism, which challenges the meaning of artistry, was hugely pioneering. Where earlier in his career Boetti would court comparisons with Bruce Nauman, who, like Boetti, saw his own personality as an extraneous and objective entity, in terms of his enduring inﬂuence, artists such as Martin Kippenberger and Damien Hirst owe a great debt to the Italian master. Just as Kippenberger hired Mr. Werner to execute his Lieber maler, male mir paintings according to his instruction, Hirst also devises concepts that are principally executed by others. In both cases, there is no need for the artist to come into contact with the work. In this sense, Boetti introduced one of the principal concerns at stake within contemporary art production: the liminal space between artisan and author. Combining self-portraiture with questions of identity, and authorship with paradigms of artistic control, Ononimo is a superb example of this ground-breaking dialogue.
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