top of page

Sign language

It appears as a white, cracked slab. If Alberto Burri had written a novel to tell the story of a small Sicilian town destroyed by the earthquake, it would have been easier for us to understand. What he uses instead is a language of signs, the kind of trace that the concrete leaves in a more incisive and indelible way than a pencil. The kind of track that we slowly learn to decipher in our course of study. An undoubtedly privileged language. After all, think about it, anyone could read a book or solve a mathematical operation, letters and numbers, nothing we don't already know as children. Understanding a picture or plan of a city is a real challenge. The Cretto di Gibellina is an imposing work of contemporary art, apparently simple, but which hides a whole life among its "signs". We are able to read the streets, the houses and what we do not see grows in our imagination. This is what happens when we look at the plan of a city. What for others is only a design follows a precise code for us: Fullness, emptiness, the aggregation of houses in a historic center, the buildings of public housing, transport, greenery; an infinite interweaving of stories, perhaps more difficult to read but real and infinite.

Chiara Silenus.

Gibellina after the earthquakes - North-West Panorama © Photo credit from

Cretto di Burri © Photo credit: Grand Voyage Italy

Cretto di Burri © Photo credit: Michele Cannone / Flickr

bottom of page