For years, Italian-Peruvian photographer Francesca Piqueras has traveled the world to capture the action of natural elements. Beached cargo ships, abandoned maritime structures, titans of steel and concrete devoured by rust and waves, and digested by the water: more than anything, her work functions as a metaphor for the relationship between man and nature. Following stone and water, the photographer takes us into the heart of “Fire” with an exhibition on view through September 26 at the Galerie de l’Europe, in Paris.
“The fire element is a continuation of the work I’ve been doing for more than ten years about man’s influence on the landscape, with abandonment being a common thread,” says Piqueras, who started on this project by visiting a firefighter training center in Marseille to get as close as possible to the element. “The fire was caused intentionally by man. These were large iron trees, like sculptures, that they would set on fire so the firefighters could practice.” After attending their training sessions, the photographer requested that they light up all the structures so that she could photograph this “absolutely incredible inferno totally dominated by man.”
This series, which is made up of “three expressions” of fire, then took her to a foundry near Venice that manufactures iron bars. “It’s much more architectural work, a lot more structured, another interpretation of man and fire that I wanted to show in my images. The fire is much more controlled here, more condensed.” After the movement of the flames, the fire here melts into the elements, goes around them, accompanies them. “By working on fire, I wanted to enter the matrix of this material, and suggest a transformation, more immediate, rapid and violent. “
This desire naturally led her to photograph a real fire, where the flames devour everything around them. “I had prepared for my trip. I knew there would be forest fires in August, so I booked a hotel room and waited in Martigues. When a fire broke out, a firefighter called me to let me know.” This unique photograph of a real wildfire, presented as the third point of view in her show, brings to mind the “megafires” that have ravaged California, the Amazon, Australia and Europe. It could be perceived as a denunciation, but the photographer’s message is different. “On the contrary, the madness of man, his paradoxes and contradictions interest me.” This interest often takes her to those spaces where “nature reclaims its rights. (…) With fire, it is no longer time and the passing years that decompose and transform, but the matter itself that burns, that melts, that destroys itself in order to once again rebuild something else. “
“Feu” [Fire], La Galerie de l’Europe, through September 26, 2021, 55 rue de Seine, Paris 6, France
The Eretz Israel Museum as part of Photomenta N°1, from 21 September to September 21 2022, Tel Aviv, Israel, (curator: Guy RAZ)
Holden Luntz Gallery, as part of the group show “Planet Earth,” from November 13 to December 13 2021, Palm Beach, FL, USA