This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under number 73
Boetti's Dama was conceived in 1967 and is one of a small group of works of varying scales in which the artist enshrined his love of systems and structures within a game of his own inventions. Like a playful yet pre-ordained set of dominoes, the pieces of Dama fit together according to a puzzle-like internal logic, the symbols along each side of each exposed square having only one match. This particular example consists of thirty-six 'playing' pieces, ordered in their jigsaw-like way into a six-by-six grid. Despite the apparent simplicity of this Dama, there are nonetheless a daunting number of ways in which this work could be incorrectly arranged, whereas there is only one true solution, allowing Boetti to tap into his love of maths and systems in order to explore the strange balance between ordine and disordine. These were the poles in one of the many dichotomies-- shaman/showman, life/death, East/West and so forth-- that were to become so inherent in his work from the year that he created this Dama and also I gemelli, the photomontage image of his twin persona, Alighiero e Boetti. The dichotomy of ordine and disordine underlies all the other contrasts that so fascinated the artist:
'I have worked much with the concept of order/disorder: by transforming order into disorder or certain disorder into order or by presenting apparent disorder which was, in fact, the depiction of intellectual order. The thing is to know the rules of the game: He or she who does not know them will never recognise the order prevailing in things, just as someone who does not know the orders of the stars will always only see confusion, while an astronomer has a very clear view of things' (Boetti, quoted in Alighiero Boetti: Mettere al mondo il mondo, exh. cat., Frankfurt, 1998, p. 133).