large-scale installation in the vegetable gardens of the Orto
de’ Pecci in Siena constitutes a new sign on the skyline
of such a well-known city. A 30-metre-high ladder extends upwards,
a connecting element between the inner suburbs and the historic
city centre. In relation to the characteristics of the site, the
presence of the ladder impinges on the usual routes taken by visitors
coming to Siena to see the historic monuments and who rarely enter
into contact with any areas of the daily life of its inhabitants
beyond those relating to tourism and consumption.
The Orto de’ Pecci is run by a community that helps people
with psychological difficulties, former drug addicts and prisoners.
Besides what is materially produced, tending a collective vegetable
garden offers a concrete opportunity to work in a community, encouraging
responsibility and demanding attention and respect for the rhythms
of nature. Such attitudes obey a different logic to that of the
tourist industry, at least the dominant form closely related to
the entertainment industry and more generally to consumption. Meireles’
ladder dialogues with the site and suggests a reversed perspective,
where what is low down is projected upwards. It is a deft sign and
an invitation to look upwards. But in this invitation there is an
equally explicit call not to lose sight of the contact with the
earth and the depth required for any projection upwards.