Are They Rocks or Clouds? is a multifaceted photographic project that is based on the hypothese of the occurrence of a huge hydrogeological catastrophe in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. Facing this idea Caneve was not moved by a necessity to document any catastrophe in its occurrence, either to celebrate the beauty of the mountains’ environment.

Hydrogeological risk for the mountains, such as climate crisis elsewhere, has become a prominent issue, which one can hardly imagine if not after something catastrophic happens. Therefore Marina Caneve builds a scenario for an environmental catastrophe to happen, through blending her research and archival footages, texts, and her own photographs. Caneve also questions the structure of our knowledge on mountainous areas which could benefits greatly if we allow different perspectives: from historical material, technical knowledge (explored with the support of the geologist Emiliano Oddone), an anthropological vision (in dialogue with anthropologist Annibale Salsa) and of the inhabitants of the area themselves.

The project lacks a straight narrative, its layout (in the book or in exhibitions) constantly introduces deviations – used as a metaphor of the layering of rocks which constitutes the inner structure of mountains, thus showcasing their vulnerability.

  • The project started after discovering the theory of a geologist which supposes that the hydrogeological catastrophe happened in 1966 in the Dolomite mountains will repeat after 100 years. He elaborated this idea according the analysis of the landscape, historical studies and to the theory of return periods.

Project presented in Giovane Fotografia Italiana #07 | ACTIVISM

Ritratto di Marina Caneve


(b.1988 Italy)

Marina Caneve is a photographer which focuses on artistic research by exploring how our knowledge is shaped. Her work was exhibited internationally and since 2019 she teaches at the Master IUAV in Photography.

In 2018 she was awarded with the Giovane Fotografia Italiana Award at Fotografia Europea (Reggio Emilia) and Lesley A. Martin awarded her book ‘Are They Rocks or Clouds?’ for the Cortona On The Move Dummy Award. The photobook was published by Fw:Books and OTM and later was the winner of the Premio Bastianelli for the best italian photobook. The book is also currently nominated for the best artist book at Les Rencontres d’Artles (2020). In 2019 she was commissioned by MUFOCO and the Italian Ministry of Culture of a photographic campaign on the italian architecture and by the National Mountain Museum of a new project. In 2019 Caneve was nominated for the C/O Berlin Talent Award and the Gabriele Basilico Prize in Architecture and Landscape Photography.
Caneve’s work was exhibited internationally in solo and collective shows in institutions such as Fotohof, Venice Biennale, Fondazione Francesco Fabbri, MAR Ravenna, Cortona on the Move, Fotografia Europea Reggio Emilia, Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa, ALTplus1000 Festival, Melkweg, Matéria gallery, SiFest, Fondazione Benetton.

She is co-founder of CALAMITA/À, a research platform focusing on the topics of catastrophes, changes, memories and politics. In 2016 she curated the publication ‘The Walking Mountain’.