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Surrounded by an unnatural silence

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Sicily, Italy, August 2021

Cretto means crack, split.

The Great Cretto or Cretto di Burri leaves speechless anyone who walks those streets, in silence.

Eighty thousand square metres of white concrete and debris, where, on 15 January 1968, an earthquake razed the entire town of Gibellina Vecchia to the ground, killing 1150 people.

All the inhabitants of the small town.

I was truly struck by it. I almost felt like crying and I immediately had the idea: here I feel I could do something. I would do this: let's compact the rubble that is so much of a problem for everyone, arm it well, and with the concrete let's make an immense white cretto, so that it remains a perennial memory of this event.

Alberto Burri, 1970

Alberto Burri, one of the most important Italian artists and painters of the 20th century.

Destroy, to recreate and transform.

During my journey to discover that land rich in history and culture, Sicily, I wanted to make a stop here, in this place where a thousand emotions take over.

I felt lost among white alleys, the same as the old town centre before the earthquake, and enveloped in an unnatural silence. This is what land artworks are, they envelop you in their power without you noticing. They leave you free to be free to feel emotions and to be alone with yourself. It's subjective for everyone, and I think it's indescribable what I felt walking there. A sense of emptiness for sure.

Work began in 1984, was partially finished in 1989 and then completed in 2015, as was the wish of its creator. One of the few works of land art in Italy and one of the most extensive in the world.

The artist's intention was to create a place that would remain forever immersed in the memory of those who visit it, and for me, that was the case.

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