Vetta e Abisso: Carrara


Vetta e Abisso, which in English translates as Summit & Abyss, is a one-off project documenting the famous white marble quarries of Carrara, Tuscany. The title of the project is a reference to a line from Goethe’s Faust which remains, according to the scholar Marshall Berman, the pre-eminent drama on the tragedy of industrial development. In the play Faust proclaims that the transformative potential of industrialisation is accompanied by profound alienation:

And what is portioned out to all mankind,/I shall enjoy deep within myself, contain/Within my spirit summit and abyss,/Pile on my breast their agony and bliss,/And let my own self grow into theirs unfettered,/Till as they are, at last I, too, am shattered.

Unlike other ER Italian projects which rely upon the synthesis of environmental science data and photography; here the images are displayed in a linear series with no supporting text. The series begins at the summit of the Apuan Alps, before descending into the marble quarries, and culminating finally in the pulverisation of the rock as fragment and dust. Over one hundred marble quarries operate in the Carrara locality, and it is commonplace for illegal mining to take place in areas designated as National Park land due to the profitability of the stone. Marble of a lesser quality is also pulverised and sold as a textural agent in a variety of beauty products, such as toothpaste and face creams. Over-mining in the region is altering the micro-climate as whole mountains quite literally disappear, and for this reason mines are increasingly drilling into the Alps in a bid to hollow them out from the inside. View Project