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Anna Perugini.All rights reserved.

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Allegory of a Marble Floor

The romanticised perception of Carrara marble is intrinsically anchored in the masterpieces that have been produced with it in the past centuries, depicting ideals of beauty, purity, harmony and luxury. However nowadays, the over-exploitation of Carrara marble constitutes an ecological disaster. The ornamental marble market follows strict aesthetic rules, dictated by colour, size and texture. Meanwhile, the material’s extraction process produces enormous accumulations of marble debris (quarry dumps), which are now crushed into calcium carbonate. The chemical industry uses this substance to produce paints, adhesives, toothpastes, cosmetics, pharmaceutical excipients and other everyday products.

The installation Allegory of a Marble Floor dissects the use and extraction of ornamental marble and its byproducts in Carrara, Italy. It seeks to draw connections between an inherently extractive design discipline and the environmental realities of marble production. The work aims to recognise the marble deposits of Carrara as a complex ecosystem rather than a sole resource for design creation. It does so by identifying the strategies of extraction and exploring the tension between beauty and devastation in the application of the material itself.

By revisiting the graphic language of traditional marble inlays, Allegory of a Marble Floor excavates the untold stories of extraction in the Apuan Alps. The composition juxtaposes the diverse materialities of marble –from quarry dust to toothpaste, from pills to fake marbles – in relation to both endangered flowers and resisting species re-naturalising the cracks of Carrara: thriving testimonies of resilience among the ruins of mechanical and repetitive extraction.

The research was conducted with the kind contribution of the geologists Chiara Taponecco, Marco Mazzoni and Gabriele Stagnaro, the restorers Sara Guarducci and Francesca Toso, the botanist Prof. Gianni Bedini, and the activists Andrea Ribolini and Alberto Grossi.