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Recently I came across a map of flags that looked like an Ardvanderlinden work of my brother and me. Nowadays we could on the internet easily find more maps made of flags. Above a selection. I think the first person who made this kind of works was Alighiero Boetti (1940). He is famous for a series of embroidered maps of the world created between 1971 and his death in 1994.


His Mappas reflect a changing geopolitical world from 1971 to 1994. A period that included among others the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Embroidered by up to 500 artisans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the maps were the result of a collaborative process leaving the design to the geopolitical realities of the time, and the choice of colours to the artisans responsible for the embroidery. The maps delineate the political boundaries of the countries; some nations, such as Israel, are not represented because the Taliban regime of Afghanistan did not then recognize their existence. This quote of Boetti about his work is excellent:

“For me the work of the embroidered Mappa is the maximum of beauty. For that work I did nothing, chose nothing, in the sense that: the world is made as it is, not as I designed it, the flags are those that exist, and I did not design them; in short I did absolutely nothing; when the basic idea, the concept, emerges everything else requires no choosing.”

I do like Boetti’s Mappas and I find it interesting to see that flags and countries are changing; nation states are not given, they are fluid. In 2013 it is very clear that flags, countries and their borders are strictly human ideas that undermine the unity of life and are one of the main causes of inequality in the world. So, the big question is: what is beyond the nation state? What is next?

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