THESE DARK MOUNTAINS
I grew up in Trento, a small valley town surrounded by the Alps in Northern Italy. I have always wondered what it would feel like to live and work deep in the mountains, to be held within the paradox that is a stunning but also dangerous natural environment. After moving to Berlin, my fascination with a life closely tied to nature’s rhythm grew even stronger. The idea behind ‘These Dark Mountains’ came from a desire to return to my home in Trento and capture the lives of people living and working in the Italian Alps. In a series combining the real and the mythopoetic, I examine a life that I might never live while questioning the act of escaping from contemporary society into the dreams and hopes constructed around life close to nature. The project took place during the traditional pasture season, in which alpine farmers move with their livestock from their permanent settlements in the valleys to temporary stables in the mountains. This ancient practice has created one of the most species-rich and diverse landscapes in Europe. Over the course of two years, I visited several alpine farms to document the solitude and extraordinary labor required to sustain life at nature's fragile edge.
Today alpine pastures are increasingly threatened by factors such as abandonment, climate change, and mass tourism. However, the alpine imagery is mostly used by the media to represent an idyllic landscape where you can escape urban turmoil. For this reason I felt the need to explore the realities of alpine pastures beyond their physical allure. By photographing the alpine farmers and their surroundings, I analyze their experience and document the way they interact with their landscape, their animals, and the non-human world.
In our anthropocentric world, one in which humans have such an invasive presence and where production is valued over sustainability, these vast landscapes represent an immense wealth. I believe that if we care and respect these fragile environments in their wholeness, in both their beauty and complexity, there is still hope for mountain life to be compatible with modern times.