This work is registered in the Archivio Boetti, Rome, under no. 2550.
'A word changes into a sign, into a compilation of commas which means something. You see, that is a rule...One of my biro works was called Seguire il filo del discorso (following the thread of the conversation) You follow the thread of these commas. To follow the thread of a conversation is tautology, and quite apart from the rule, there is the structure of the transformation of the word into a sign. This is what you must make visible, you must render the comma visible as something that is not stable, that is unstable, and these small white points stand on a background hatched by another hand.' (Alighiero Boetti cited in Alighiero Boetti. Mettere al mondo il mondo exh. cat. Frankfurt 1998, p. 63)
Playful tautological exercises Boetti's Biro 'paintings' are open, self-defining images that are simultaneously full of apparent emptiness and meaning anchored around a simple code to both construct and signify themselves. As the typically self-reflexive title of this work indicates, they are spatial and temporal extensions of the innate gap to be found between what Ferdinand Saussure famously called the 'signifier and the signified', into a beautiful and poetic pictorial expression of fixed system and perpetual flux.
This work, consisting of a sequence of three commas, laid out in accordance with a systemised grid established by the letters of the alphabet arranged vertically at the side of the work spells out a typically self-reflective title, 'A, E, B' - initials referring to the twinned nature of the artist, Alighiero e Boetti (Alighiero and Boetti). Alighiero e Boetti (A&B) was the split, double, and self-reflecting personality, the schizophrenic shaman/showman, who illustrated both Boetti's philosophy of life and expressed the way he saw himself. In this work, each letter, in the form of its signifying comma has been isolated against a separate fluctuating monochrome field of red blue and green. These fields have been painstakingly made, by at least two people according to instructions stipulated by Boetti and, allowing for a variation of individual style, through a lengthy and painstaking process of cross-hatching with a biro.
The resultant monochrome panels, which demonstrate not only the manner and the timely nature of their creation, are self-defining extensions in both space and time of the code of rule by which they have been made. 'All that is important is the rule', Boetti has said of these works, 'Anyone who does not know it, will never recognise the prevailing order in things, just as somebody who does not know the order of the stars will always see confusion where an astronomer has a very clear view of things.' (Boetti cited in Alighiero Boetti, exh cat., Museum fr Moderne Kunst , Frankfurt Am Main, 1998 p. 311.)