Sóley Ragnarsdóttir
Sign of Care
curated by
Sofia Baldi Pighi
Berceto (PR), Emilia-Romagna

Berceto is a village in northern Italy, in the province of Parma. It has thirteen hamlets, and to date it has 1,967 inhabitants (ISTAT, 2022), with an area of 131 km2. The geographical position of the “mountain village closest to the sea” makes it an important centre of spiritual and trading contacts, and still today the village maintains the symbiotic relationship that it has with two ancient ways: Via Francigena (St. Francis’ Way), the pilgrim route that from the 6th century joined Canterbury to Rome, and the Cisa, a strategic pass that, as early as the Byzantine age, linked the Parma Apennines to the coasts of Tuscany and Liguria.
On occasion of Una Boccata d’Arte, the artist explores the road symbolic potential in a small frontier village. When passing through – whether the travellers be pilgrims, traders, or, today, in very fast cars – it is fundamental to retain your sense of direction. The road signs represent a universal iconographical code providing information on directions, obligatory routes and possible dangers during the journey.
With the work Sign of Care, Ragnarsdóttir deconstructs the imaginary anthropocentric imagery of classical signage, and, by means of a change in levels, shifts attention to the other species that, together with human beings, live and travel along these ancient roads.
By means of an interdisciplinary approach, midway between contemporary art and science, the artist focuses on the signage of floral species of rare beauty, the animals typical of the area, and rocks that contribute to the landscape wonders of Berceto and its surroundings. The work operates on a collective plane that embraces the landscape and the non-human communities that live hereabouts. The artist’s fourteen road signs correspond to Berceto and its thirteen hamlets, with one sign placed in each location. Sign of Care marks an alternative route, a physical and emotive mapping that reconnects these small villages and subverts local solitude with a work of art stretching across 131 km2 of land.

Sóley Ragnarsdóttir, Sign of Care, 2024. Print on Dibond, variable measures.
In the village and its hamlets, there is an artwork placed; we invite the public to find it in: Berceto, Bergotto, Casaselvatica, Castellonchio, La Cisa, Corchia, Fugazzolo, Ghiare, Lozzola, Pagazzano, Pietramogolana, Roccaprebalza, Il Tugo, Valbona.

Knowing the names of your neighbours and the rocks that define our landscape holds great value. Similarly, knowing the names of the birds, flowers and mushrooms that inhabit our environment can make us more attentive to them. This familiarity may prompt us to walk slower and gentler, and stop to encounter people as well as animals, and spices.

Sóley Ragnarsdóttir (Denmark/Iceland, 1991) lives and works in Stenbjerg Thy, Denmark. She graduated as a Meisterschülerin from the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2019, and in 2023, she received a work grant from the Danish Arts Foundation. Recently, she opened her solo exhibition at Gerðarsafn Kópavogur Art Museum in Reykjavík (IS, 2023), which will later move to Kunstpark Augustiana, Denmark; she presented the work More Love Hours at the international music festival Roskilde (DK, 2023). In 2022, she was in residence at Art Hub Copenhagen and showcased her work at Sorø Art Museum, Denmark. In 2021, at O-Overgaden in Copenhagen, she participated in a year-long postgraduate residency and held her first solo exhibition Organizing Principle. She has participated in various group exhibitions such as Nightmare Fuel at Y Gallery Kópavogur (IS, 2023); Therapy Room at The Moment, Berlin (DE, 2023); Reasons To Be Cheerful at Gallery Martin Kudlek, Cologne (DE, 2023); Seed Bank at Baader Meinhof, Nebraska (USA, 2022). Her works are in private collections and the collection of the Danish Arts Foundation.

My practice revolves around a feminist approach to collecting and explores heritage, memories and contemporary issues such as material pollution, notably the enormous amounts of ocean plastic that wash ashore the coastline of Northern Denmark each year.

Berceto (PR)

Berceto, gateway to the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park, is a village in the province of Parma, and a Unesco MAB (Man and the Biosphere) reserve. One of the most important Apennine passes in Europe is just 9 km away, the Cisa pass, which leads to the Po valley plain, Tuscany, the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Cinque Terre coastal villages.
A historic crossroads of civilisations as a result of the Via Francigena (Franciscan Way) running through it, Berceto is a European meeting place founded by the Longobard king Liutprand and the French bishop Moderannus, the town’s patron saint. Both of them wanted to build an abbey, which today has become the majestic Cathedral with its Romanesque forms. Highlights of this small Medieval village include the ruins of the Castle on the slopes to the north of the town, which have now been made into an archaeological park.
Less than an hour’s walk away is the most important junction of European paths, near the source of the Baganza stream: the Via Francigena, the Alta Via dei Parchi, and the Sentiero Italia, sacred locations for travellers in the past.

Berceto is the only settlement in the world to be twinned with an Indian Reserve in South Dakota, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, linked to Tatanka Iyotaka’s (Sitting Bull) Lakota population.
The local cuisine is unmissable, with recipes featuring Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Porcino mushrooms and Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese. They include “spongata” (dessert cake with nuts, honey and dried fruit), “mostarda” (condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavoured syrup), “anolini” pasta envelopes in broth, and tortelli di erbetta (pasta envelopes filled with green vegetables).

Thanks to: Mayor and Municipal Administration of Berceto; l'Area Geologia, Suoli e Sismica della Regione Emilia-Romagna; Pro Loco Berceto; A.S.D Terre Alte Berceto and the Zen Monastery SanboJi. Special thanks to Stefano Segadelli and Miriam Fontana, visionary professionals and essential allies in all phases of the project.