This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under number 2201.
'A word changes into a sign, into a compilation of commas which mean something. You see, that is a rule... 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 with pens by another hand' (Boetti, quoted in Alighiero Boetti: Mettere al mondo il mondo, exh.cat., Frankfurt, 1998, p. 63).
In Mettere al mondo il mondo, two biro-covered sheets (deemed INSEPARABILI by Boetti on an inscription on the reverse) feature the alphabet in Roman letters down their left-hand margins, and an echoed arrangement of commas on each sheet, lending them a dimension of twinning, a concept crucial to the artist. By tracing the order of the commas, these sheets are found to read METTERE AL MONDO IL MONDO. The fact that there is a process involved in finding these lurking letters and putting them in order reflects Boetti's great interest in systems of organisation. We are forced to contemplate the power of words in a new way, and indeed forced to relearn the act of reading itself.
Mettere al mondo il mondo was a phrase or slogan that Boetti used from the early 1970s and which encapsulated his concepts of bringing the world into the world through his art. Discussing the inception of the phrase, he explained:
'I can tell you how this sentence on 'bringing the world to the world' was born. In Italy, incidentally, children are brought into the world. 'Well, it was 1971. I arrive at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. I take a cab to the 'One Hotel', my hotel, which I had opened half a year before in the city. I come to the hotel and am told that my Afghan partner is to be found in Istolif, a small village approximately 40 kilometres outside Kabul. I take another cab and set off. I stop briefly to buy a small drum (tamburo), while a young waiter from the hotel who is accompanying me in order to immerse me in the difficult impressions of the country, prepares a super hashish cigarette for me. I am outside the city, the landscape is deserted and we cross a Kuci caravan, Afghan nomads with horses, asses and many camels. I sit in the cab drumming with my fingers on the tamburo. The smoke fills the interior and at that moment the sentence comes into my head 'Bringing the world to the world.' I, who had been in a house in Turin only a few hours previously, now see a caravan pass my by, in the year 1000. And it is I who am given this vision. It is I who receives this picture. I look for a leaf paper, a very small one, and write on it 'Mettere al mondo il mondo.' A kind of autogenesis, an enduring birth, one vision after the other. I do not know whether I am making myself understood' (Boetti, quoted in ibid., pp. 53-55).
This autogenesis was integral to Boetti's art, as was reflected by his increasing interest in Sufism, a religious philosophy in which aspects of an all-embracing God are revealed through smaller facets of existence, meaning that the contemplation of the part can lead to the contemplation of a divine whole. This fascinated Boetti, who more succinctly explained the 'autogenesis' by stating: 'The greatest joy on earth consists in inventing the world the way it is without inventing anything in the process' (Boetti, quoted in ibid., p. 297).