Marble In Metamorphosis

Rachel Cusk


Molonglo, 2022. Softcover, 120pp., 6 x 8 inches 


In her essay of the same name, Marble in Metamorphosis, Rachel Cusk explores the meaning of marble in different cultures. On a visit to a marble-bearing Greek island in the Aegean Sea, she considers its enduring nature, itself brought about after a period of great pressure.

Marble has long been used to display political power and wealth. It also betrays vanity and corruption. Dictators built their palaces from marble which outlasted their rule and now disappear gradually into the ground, literally sinking beneath the weight of their own ambition. Marble decorates modern homes as a covetable and expensive form of interior design, commercialised and democratised, mined on an industrial scale.

In reflecting on the deep relationship between marble and human culture, Marble in Metamorphosis examines the social and historical function of the material throughout time, the fate of monuments through history and the tension between classicism and realism in art and architecture. Chris Kontos’s photography explores two landscapes marked by marble and its uses: the island of Tinos, with its centuries-old tradition of marble mining and craft, and Athens, which has an ancient and enduring connection to marble evident in its ubiquitous presence throughout the city.