Dolomites at risk: a portfolio by Marina Caneve

Are They Rocks or Clouds? is a multifaceted series of photographs by Marina Caneve that underpins poetry and the boundaries of science.

This article was originally published on Domus 1034, April 2019.

Marina Caneve’s photography is nearly always an “independent observation tool within an interdisciplinary research process” but, within this methodological approach, the factual concept peculiar to the medium is itself questioned via a visual investigation that is artistic, archivistic and scientific. By this reasoning, a landscape photograph is, yet again, not simply a record of something that happened in the past but subversively also a way to predict what has not yet happened and a warning to the people who will come afterwards to prevent potential future disasters.

When part of a long-term investigation on the perception of hydrogeological risk in the Dolomites, the signs left by a landslide on the trunk of a living tree become the distinguishing features of a project that creates a critical dialogue between aesthetic and ethics – but also, deep down, between culture and nature. In this case, it is literally what is missing that speaks: the absence of the event, brought to the fore by the isolation and the angle, and so the partial abstraction of the main subject.

Produced in collaboration with the geologist Emiliano Oddone and anthropologist Annibale Salsa, and further enhanced by a written piece by Taco Hidde Bakker, Are They Rocks or Clouds? is a multifaceted series of photographs that benefits from the indeterminacy that, on the one hand, underpins poetry and, on the other, is the boundary of science, all without succumbing to the ambiguity of the one or the presumption of the other, because, to cite the science historian D. Graham Burnett, “conclusions should, as a rule, be treated with suspicion.”

Are They Rocks or Clouds?
Marina Caneve

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