Cristiano Volk (b. 1987, Italy) photographically explores the concept of melancholia, an enduring feeling of great sadness or even a form of extreme depression. ‘Mélaina Cholé’ presents a metaphorical visualisation of how melancholy – a phenomenon that according to recent studies will be the most widespread disease in the world by 2030 – operates physiologically.
Volk’s photographs are inspired by a long-lived theory on temperament, as proposed by the ancient Greeks. Specifically, Hippocrates’ belief in body fluids determining the emotional state of our being. He identified a balance of four crucial ‘humours’ that ensured one’s health: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Volk, in relation to melancholy, focuses on black bile, which is described by Hippocrates as a “cold and dry fluid, generated by the archetype of the earth”. Its surplus, secreted by the spleen, was associated with depression, an idea that prevailed until the 17th century.
‘Mélaina Cholé’ was additionally published as a photobook by Yoffy Press which is available here.