"The embroidered map is for me the ultimate in beauty because I did nothing for that work. I chose nothing, in that the world is made the way it is, I did not draw it; flags are the way they are, I did not draw them; in other words I did absolutely nothing; once the basic idea has emerged, the concept, the rest is not a matter of choice" (Boetti quoted in Boetti exh. cat., Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 1999, p. 19).
The living embodiment of Boetti's creative credo of mettere al mondo il mondo (putting the world into the world), the Mappe are maps of the world embroidered in Afghanistan by skilled women keeping alive a centuries-old tradition of carpet making. They illustrate nothing but the way the world is, giving a visual picture of the political division of the earth at the precise time the work is made - in this case1978. In doing so the Mappe also depict the world as a single cohesive unity made up of fragmented and constantly changing political borders. With each country represented by its own flag shaped to the outline of its political borders, the pictorial content of Boetti's Mappe demonstrates the actuality of the artist's belief that the world constitutes a constantly changing flux of disordered chaos united by its own intrinsic nature into a greater whole. This belief Boetti called the philosophy of ordine e disordine and from the mid-1970s onwards it became the key aesthetic of all his creative work.
The concept of the Mappe evolved out of an earlier work that was based on the wars in the Middle East where Boetti had noticed the relevance of a country's outline to the time. Noticing that the political borders in this region especially exist in a constant state of flux awoke him to the realisation of the potential of the world map to express his deeply Sufi-inspired belief in the ultimate interconnection between all things according to the flux caused by the symbiotic relationship between order and disorder.
Implicit within these works however, is a critique of all political, national and ideological borders and the process by which the Mappe have been made is a deliberate and conscious attempt to encourage the healing of such man-made division. Having the Mappe made by Afghan craftswomen, who have little or no interest in the contemporary art world, was also Boetti's way of bridging the long-standing metaphorical East-West divide and of using this creative partnership as a powerful symbol for the potential of such union and healing. In this way Boetti underwrote the essential hope - expressed in the Mappe - that an increased breakdown of cultural and political barriers will lead to wider understanding and to further collaboration between the disparate parts of the world; ultimately resulting in an end to all artificial borders and divisions.