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Ghirigori degli ofidi

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Twirls of the ophidians

The mesmerizing photos of snakes made by Guido Mocafico will take you into a whirlwind of attraction-repulsion.


If you are ophiophobic, the series of photos by Guido Mocafico “Serpens” (1-4) is not for you.

The slithering, scaly, sinuous snakes are abundantly among the most reviled creatures on earth. Yet still life style photos of snakes in a box, including vipers and cobras, taken by Mocafico, are seductively beautiful, full of color, pattern and twist, in soft shapes. In the photos collected in “Serpens” , which was also published as a book of the same name, the snakes look like pieces of art of nature, rectangular and saturated.

“The first time I photographed a snake up close, I almost fainted. I always found them terrifying, but also fascinating – an attraction – repulsion. I think many people have that experience when they encounter beautiful animals that move stealthily or that crawl. My goal with this series is to explore that intersection of human emotions. “


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“Serpens” , “Aranea” , and “Medusa” comprise the “Venenum” trilogy , all photographed from above with black backgrounds. Mocafico finds the time to work on these long-term personal projects, published in books and exhibited in galleries, alongside his commercial and advertising activities.

“Each photography session lasts about 45 minutes. The herpetologist places the snakes in a plastic box lined with a black cloth and with a transparent lid. Then I’m 60 cm – one meter away, I point my camera, and take off the top. I still prefer the look of the film and wait for the designs to form and the curves to emerge.
This series has been good therapy and education for me: now I can handle snakes and I have learned a lot about the different species . But I learned more from watching how people react to these images. Their fear and desire reveal something primal about our species. “

Looking at these images, there is nothing inherently fearful about these reptiles. On the contrary, they are gorgeous, their complex and lush colors and markings. By elevating snakes to art, Guido Mocafico makes us look, really look, at the fascinating source of our fear.


The four parts of "Serpens" with all 62 photos , clickable links
 All images © Guido Mocafico

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Twirls of the ophidians


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Guido Mocafico is an Italian photographer born in the Canton of Ticino in Switzerland in 1962. Specializing in still lifes, he divides his time between Switzerland and Paris where he works.

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