"Worlds Envisioned" brings into dialogue the works of the Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti, and Ivoirian artist/author, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. Although coming from very different cultural backgrounds, these artists nonetheless recognized a shared fascination with ordering, classifying, systematizing and inverting conventional epistemological models. The exhibition was devised and selected in conjunction with the two artists to manifest shared correspondences and affinities. It marks the first large scale museum showing in the United States of work by Boetti, and the first presentation in North America of Bruly Bouabré. The exhibition will open at Dia Center for the Arts, New York, on October 6th, 1994.
Originally known in relation to Arte Povera, Boetti's art from the late sixties carved an increasingly independent route as he adopted a variety of formats, systems and codes to address a heterogeneous and encompassing body of material. Organizing and classifying information, maps and archives, he systematically questioned or subverted every axiom: order, for example, is always accompanied by disorder; and cartography by a heraldry of flags, in a kind of double identity mirroring that which the artist promoted in his own persona - Alighiero e Boetti, Alighiero and Boetti. In his oeuvre, each work is typically, the fusion of his conception with a realization by hands other than his own - those of embroiderers, children, weavers and numerous anonymous volunteers and associates.
In 1948 Bruly Bouabré had a vision which urged him to fix the knowledge, lore and beliefs of his people, the Bété, in written and visual form. He began by inventing an alphabet for the Bété language in which he wrote a number of bilingual-French/Bété books. After assisting ethnographers in the Ivory Coast amassing information about his own and other tribes, for some years, Bruly decided in the 1980's to become an artist in order to continue his aim of revealing, collecting, and archiving his knowledge of the world. His work adheres to a single simple format. In basic tablets, containing an image surrounded by a textual border, he has broached a vast range of subjects, from politics, linguistics, geography, and vernacular traditions, mensuration, divination, and geography, to numerology, philosophy, and sociology. Tellingly, he neither adopts European art models as they have been and continue to be taught in West Africa nor does he follow indigenous traditional modes and styles.
"Worlds Envisioned" has been organized by Lynne Cooke, Curator, Dia Center for the Arts, and André Magnin, an independent curator based in Paris. The exhibition will continue to be on view at 548 West 22nd Street through June 25, 1995. Hours are Thursday through Sunday, 12 noon to 6 p.m.
Major funding for this exhibition has been received by the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, Washington, D.C., with additional funding from the members of the Dia Art Council, the major annual support group of Dia Center for the Arts, and the Dia Art Circle.
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