skip to content


My fieldwork is based in the remote wood of Scorace, Sicily, that features several ruins dating back to previous human engagements: from prehistoric inhabitants to Islamic and Latin civilizations. The ‘absence of the state’ in the territory and a lack of institutional management of the area has left these ruins unpreserved, with vegetation reappropriating its spaces. Nonetheless, the same institutional absence has allowed a group of climbers to find in the wood an incredible potential to develop the bouldering sport. In my fieldwork I explore how these climbers find and give attention to an element of the landscape that has not featured in the histories and in the memories of the territory: the innumerable boulders present in both the private and public areas of the wood. My research explores how the boulders of this abandoned landscape, amid scattered traces of ancient civilizations, are given a new importance as climbers explore the wood in search of new boulders to climb and ‘take care of’. I explore the non-human agency of the rocks in affording a novel engagement with the territory that so far had only been use for agriculture. I also question whether an institutional neglect of cultural heritage of the area has contributed to the unfolding of new histories.


‘Focus to Balance’

One of the climbers is attempting the ascent of a challenging and particularly tall boulder. The picture reveals the communality of climbing as the rest of the climbers engage with her ascent: whether by being ready to spot her in a potential fall, by indicating the next potential footholds or simply by looking from a distance her position on the rock and suggesting possible holds.


‘Cleaning the “Brain”’

A destructive fire in the summer of 2022, of which the burnt oak in the picture reminds us, has incinerated much of the vegetation under which this big boulder was hiding. Naturally, its appearance has not escaped the attention of the man in the picture, who decided to name the boulder ‘Cervello’, brain in Italian, because of its shape. Here, the climber is ‘cleaning’ the boulder: first, by carefully sensing every inch of the rock, he gets to know its features and what it can afford to a climber. Then, using different types of brushes according to the type of the rock, in this case sandstone, climbers remove dust and spines deposited in what they could use as holds.


‘The “Firstborn”’

After everyone in the picture contributed to the cleaning of ‘Cervello’, it is time to climb it. Here, a climber is attempting the hardest route individuated in the boulder, called ‘Primo Genito’, firstborn in Italian, named in the honour of the soon-to-be father climber that discovered it. As climbers reflect upon how to face the difficult climb and finally manage to ascend the line, the rocks and the land around them become enmeshed in the personal histories of the people that inhabit them.