Carrara marble is one of the most famous marbles in the world. Carrara marble has been quarried since the end of the Roman Republic in the quarries near Carrara in the Apuan Alps (Tuscany region). The Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo brought fame to this marble.
However, the increasing popularity of this marble has consequences for nature. While at the beginning of the 20th century, 100,000 tons were extracted annually, today it is about 5 million tons, which environmental activists strongly criticize as overexploitation.
Swiss photographer Kostas Maros has now tackled this issue and created impressive photographs of the Carrara marble quarries, which can be seen at Gallery 94 in Baden, Switzerland, until May 1, 2021.
The photographer Kostas Maros (*1980) graduated from the University of Basel with a law degree and worked for several years in the legal profession before he switched to photography self-taught in 2013. Since then he has been working in Switzerland and abroad for editorial, corporate and advertising clients, implementing reportage and art projects. He is represented by the 13photo agency for his commissioned work and by Galerie Monika Wertheimer and Galerie 94 for his artistic work. His work has won awards at the Prix de la Photographie, Paris, the Vfg-Nachwuchsförderpreis, the Swiss Photo Award (winner 2018) and the Swiss Press Award, among others.
Kostas Maros: cicatrice / Galerie 94, Baden (Switzerland). Opening reception, March 18, 2021.
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Excerpt from the press release (translated):
It is a magical mountain. A stone giant whose long and mighty limbs stretch there like a crucifix across the barren landscape. Crammed between the Apennines and the Mediterranean Sea, in the northwest of Tuscany, just before crossing Liguria. The mountain range rises to 2000 meters and bears sublime silver hair. The Apuan Alps hold one of the largest deposits of marble in the world. Marble has been quarried here since ancient times. Once with the simplest, today with the most modern means of technology, man wrests his precious treasures from the mountain. Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo created timeless works from the white stone. A bird’s eye view of the marble quarries of Carrara reveals deep crevices, squares, streets of marble that stand out in biting white against their natural background. It is a tremendous spectacle that demands from the viewer natural respect for the mighty rocks. The opening of the mountain by human intervention in the rock, allowing a glimpse of these imposing geometric stone backdrops, instinctively reveals a visual attraction that captivates all viewers. Marble – not a precious stone, but undoubtedly the most noble of all rocks. But only the finest, purest and snow-white bears the special seal of quality: Carrara marble. White gold, as the inhabitants of Carrara call the precious stone that has always guaranteed them income and work. The treasure of the Apuan Alps was and is exported all over the world.
Today, however, deep wounds can be seen in the white mountains around the industrial city of Carrara. Overexploitation has left timeless scars. Valleys are rugged and ridges cut, a hostile and peculiar lunar landscape in the otherwise lovely Tuscany. The photographs of the majestic quarries show an isolated world; aesthetic, bizarre and rough. It is a self-contained universe of white, artificial and natural at the same time. In the province of Massa-Carrara, the excesses of industrial progress and global greed for luxury manifest themselves in an incomparably vivid way. Environmentalists worry about the consequences of exploitation. Marble dust seeps deep into groundwater, stains rivers milk-white, and permeates the air. Carrara has experienced four severe floods in the last decade alone – conservationists also attribute them to extensive marble quarrying, which disturbs the hydrogeological balance.
Marble quarrying in the Carrara quarries is a metaphor for global excessive human intervention in nature: automation, scarcity of resources, concentration of wealth, and the conflict between the environment and production. Its scars will remain, even after man has left the landscape he created in Tuscany: The Carrara quarries are running out of marble. According to geologists, the famous stone from Carrara will last for another 50 years.