For an artist fascinated by duality, or doubling—in the early nineteen-seventies, he decided to go by the name Alighiero & Boetti, then illustrated this split identity, or dual persona, in several works—the self-portrait is a particularly meaningful exercise. Autoritratto is a bronze sculpture which is heated to a high
temperature through a built-in electric device. It shows the artist showering himself with a hose he holds above his head, and as the water comes in contact with his his heated head, the latter gives off steam. It is an ironic metaphor for the process of artistic creation, but it is also a self-portrait of a man facing illness
and death: in 1993, Boetti had already been diagnosed with the brain tumor that would carry him off a year later. As with the late works that the philosopher Edward Saïd spoke of, this piece is also imbued with the fundamental sense of ‘disquiet’ that every true creative author, even in his or her twilight years, still maintains towards the world.