SP - Strange Fire, Robert Calafiore

I am definitely a little obsessed with X-ray and reverse images as a way of expressing human form in an abstract way. I have been inverting images since I started on the course and mainly applied this to my ‘absent landscape’ series with some success. Recently, however, I came across Robert Calafiore and in particular his ‘Strange Fire’ Series which grabbed my attention as a way of using with my more recent exploratory human form images. I love that he explores his stories with triptychs too. 


Calafiore R. 2008-2012. C prints

Calafiore R. 2008-2012. C-prints

Robert Calafiore, whats so exciting about his work it has many parallel’s with my own. I recently started using a pinhole camera, with long exposures to add further intrigue to my ‘absent landscapes’. By adding into these images the human form, using as long as exposure as is possible, I start to get a sense of….’The difference between the real and the imaginary’ 

Crawford Y. 2018. Pinhole.

Crawford Y. 2018. Pinhole and Human Form

Robert Calafiore employs a hand-built pinhole camera to create large scale one-of-a-kind c-prints. The subject matter, currently either select pieces from a family collection of ordinary glassware or the nude male figure, is placed within a larger construction, a constructed stage set. It is then transformed by the unique recording characteristics of the camera’s wide angle, the extended exposure, and the light sensitive paper’s recording abilities. Calafiore manipulates the still life to control the results; altering the saturation, colour, density and translucency of specific areas.

In contrast I am using the hands as human form symbolic of ‘reaching out’ with ME/CFS and chronic illness. Tracing the lines of rivers with the lines of the hands, I settle the human form into the landscape. The lines follow either the back of the hand or the life-lines on the under-side and palm of the hand, or in someway embracing the land.  My work is deliberately subtle hoping to capture the hope within the process of the journey of chronic illness, whilst Calafiore’s work is less subtle, direct, uses male images, glass, disguised only by its inverted coloured images. They are individual objects in themselves. 

Like me, Calafiore is allowing the audience a different view of the human form, allowing them to see what they may not have otherwise seen. A perspective thats revealing but open to interpretation. 

Since I was a child visiting Venice, I have been obsessed with glass as a medium. Attending a few classes in glass blowing completely secure my love for its colour, the unknown of the finished product, its diversity, fragility and strength all representative of an illness I was to become acquainted with later. 

Like Calafiore, I hope to offer intrigue to cross the boundaries of not only science and art but raise questions about art making and the way in which I create my images. This brings me back (OHAGAN 2014)  and an argument that ensued with Jonathan Jones on ‘Why Photography is not art’. It seems that Jones’ view is old fashioned, concerned with monetary value, based on a Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, did he think this was art photography? Anyway, if my work is discussed in any controversial way, then people are  asking questions, which means they are seeing the work and arguing its case. Thats got to be worth it!

GLASGOW M, 2018. Q&A Robert Calafiore. Strange Fire Collective.  [online] available at http://www.strangefirecollective.com/qa-robert-calafiore Aug 30. 

OHAGAN S. 2014. Photography is art and always will be. Guardian. [online] available at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/11/photography-is-art-sean-ohagan-jonathan-jones Dec 11. 


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