Alighiero Boetti’s tecnica povera

Michele D’Aurizio, M.A.

In his dissertation, D’Aurizio explores art, craft, and design objects created in critical dialogue with the “Made in Italy” phenomenon, a brand of consumer items that emerged in the wake of Italy’s postwar “economic miracle.” The “Made in Italy” brought the country into the fold of the world market by leveraging consumers’ fetishization of Italy’s artisanal traditions and manufacturers’ retention of “backward” modes of production. His dissertation argues that the country’s stunted industrialization reenacted an imperialist fixation on expanding the artisanal sector of dependent countries and considers art and critical design practices that sought to pry open the structural contradictions of Italy’s peripheral development.
During his fellowship at the Bibliotheca Herziana, D’Aurizio will focus on a body of work by artist Alighiero Boetti, the Colori [Colors]. In these objects, Boetti wrote the codes of various commercial paints by gluing cork letters on metal plaques and then spray-painted each collage with the corresponding color. Boetti lived in Turin, home to FIAT, Italy’s largest automobile maker. While critics have usually interpreted the Colors as tautological exercises, D’Aurizio treats them as critical reflections of the goods manufactured by the local automotive industry. He argues that Boetti grew interested in the spray painting that FIAT workers still predominantly executed by hand—a solution largely facilitated by low-cost laborers migrating en masse to Turin from rural areas. When FIAT’s affordable cars became a hit on the world market, local and global capitalist dynamics began to mirror each other: the rural population provided the nation’s production centers with a surplus workforce as those centers became the world system’s complementary suppliers.

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