If you’re Ophidiophobic, Guido Mocafico’s photo series “Serpens” (1-4) is not for you. Slithering, scaly, sinuous—snakes are one of the most widely reviled creatures on Earth. And yet Mocafico’s still-life photos of snakes in a box, including vipers and cobras, are absorbingly beautiful, full of color and pattern and twisting, supple shapes. In the collected photos of Serpens, which has also been published as a book by the same name, the snakes are like nature’s art swatches, rectangular and saturated.
“The first time I photographed a snake up close, I nearly fainted. I’d always found them terrifying, but also fascinating—an attraction-repulsion I think most people experience when they encounter beautiful animals that creep or crawl. My goal with this series is to explore that intersection of human emotions.”
“Serpens”, “Aranea” (Spiders), and “Medusa” (Jellyfish) comprise the trilogy “Venenum”, all shot on black backgrounds from above, all terrifyingly exquisite. Mocafico worked on these long-term personal projects, published in books and shown as gallery exhibitions, alongside his commercial and advertising activities.
“Each photography session takes about 45 minutes. The expert corrals the snakes into a cloth-lined, clear plastic-sided box. Then I stand two feet away, pull back the top, point my camera—I still prefer the look of film—and wait for patterns and curves to emerge.
This series has been good therapy and education for me: I can handle snakes now and have learned a lot about different species. But I’ve learned most by watching people react to these images. Their fear and desire reveals something primal about our species.”
Looking at these images, there is nothing inherently scary about these reptiles. On the contrary, they are gorgeous—their hues and markings lush and complex. By elevating snakes into art, Guido Mocafico makes us look, really look, at the mesmerizing source of our fear. (Via Juxtapoz. Artist quotes via National Geographic)