"Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan", at Tate Modern. 

Born in Turin in 1940, Alighiero Boetti first came to a kind of prominence in his mid-twenties, as a member of the Arte Povera movement. Turning their back on the traditional forms of Italian sculpture, the group deliberately embraced "poor" materials, often simply arranged or stacked. Boetti’s early work is iconoclastically spare and aggressively banal. Rotolo di Cartone Ondulato, of 1966, is a roll of cardboard with its core extruded to form a wonkily abject tower; Catasta, of 1967, consists of a collection of rectangular asbestos-concrete tubes piled up into a cube; Colonna, also of 1967, is a thin teetering column of paper doilies. There was originally a mild leftist politics behind the creation of such objects, a determination to democratise sculpture by making it from the ordinary objects of mundane modern experience. With the passage of time, they look increasingly faded and abraded, more like the memorabilia of an artistic intention than art itself – the holy relics of a once radical idea.

"Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan", at Tate Modern, is a full-scale retrospective of the artist’s work. Many of the objects that it contains have a reliquary feel about them, as if preserved not for their own intrinsic qualities but as records or mementoes of Boetti’s many quixotic projects: a vitrine full of letters returned to sender, having been posted to non-existent addresses in the far-flung corners of the world, in an eccentric test of the global postal system’s efficiency; multiple embroideries spelling out the mantra-like phrase ordine e disordine ("order and disorder"), like a collection of conceptualist samplers; or objects such as Lampada Annuale, consisting of a light-bulb inside a mirrored box, apparently set to come on at a random moment once a year for exactly eleven seconds (hardly worth...

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