Between the Serchio valley and Versilia, the Apuan Alps rise in all their grandeur a stone’s throw from the sea. Rugged profiles and sharp peaks that almost act as a watershed between the holiday luxury of the coast and the remains of the peasant culture behind it. Between these mountains a fierce and uneven daily battle is fought between man and nature: on the one hand man, who appropriates everything that nature offers him, on the other nature, which slowly tries to recover its own spaces, thanks to its cyclic repetition. They are unique mountains of their kind, where the dense green of the woods is abruptly interrupted by the enormous white flows of debris from the marble quarries. Mountains that have become so unique that they can be compared to a gigantic work of land art, mountains sculpted by the work of man.
I consider these mountains as the middle ground which, in addition to daily interposing between me and my view, is constantly suspended between a wonderful nature and a brutal excavation; among the glimpses of the landscape that startle for the beauty and the stripping of the rock for purely consumerist rather than artistic purposes; between the marmettola that comes down to pollute the valleys and the hikers who go there to seek contact with nature. A land where the blinding beauty of the material is in open contrast to the horror of the gashes opened in the landscape to extract it. An ethereal place, but at the same time too “artificial” to seem real. The Apuan Alps are nicknamed “the disappearing mountains”. It is a land that oscillates frighteningly between its final demise and its survival. It is a place in doubt, in constant change; so much that it looks different every time you look at it. The peaks of the mountains are cut off, the ridges interrupted, and what remains are imposing staircases of pure and sparkling white marble, visible from all sides. A unique, but definitely heartbreaking scenario.
Although I have tried to document how the incessant excavation led to the destruction of the landscape, I cannot help but feel mixed feelings in the face of this scenario. One cannot fail to marvel in front of the gigantic marble walls, so white that it seems to shine with its own light, which transport you to an ethereal world, now too artificial to even seem real, where the deafening silence of a devastated nature reigns. , and in front of which we cannot help but feel small and insignificant.
But at the same time it is inevitable to feel dismay to see the landscape around us change with an astonishing speed; or be frightened to see how little time it takes to ensure that what the day before was a part of the mountain, becomes another luxury building, a toothpaste, a detergent or, in general, anything that can “serve” man.
Reselling the photographs taken, I wondered if what I thought should be an objective documentation of a situation, of a place, hasn’t instead become an intimate narrative, almost a diary of the sensations I felt in front of it.
Contemplation, disorientation and anger are the most recurring sensations. This is a land that alone “stands in the middle” of these intimate sensations.
Matilde Lazzari is a 24-year-old Italian photographer who graduated in Photography in december 2021 at the European Institute of Design in Rome.
She is interested, on the one hand, in the documentation of the landscape from an environmental point of view related to the associated human dynamics, on the other hand she wants to investigate the origins of cultural and social differences and the increasingly consistent gap that generates contemporaneity between them.
© Text and pictures by Matilde Lazzari