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“As I see it, creativity includes things like opening a hotel in Kabul,” Boetti said in an interview in the 1970s, adding, “an undertaking that would be crazy even in Italy! But there you realize it’s a true challenge: even presenting yourself as something other than an artist, when you have no anchorage and must completely reinvent yourself, physically and as a character. For instance, over there I always wear a jacket and tie with dark glasses, and I’m very dry and stand-offish with people . . .”

The One Hotel opened in Kabul in the autumn of 1971, during Alighiero’s second trip to Afghanistan. Ever since he had discovered the country six months earlier, all his energy had been focused on a twin goal: to expand the horizons of his life, by setting up a hotel with Dastaghir and by having brilliantly colored works embroidered for him in the country (the first would be his maps of the world)…

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