Mélaina Cholé by Cristiano Volk
YoffiyPress, 2020, First edition, 62 pp., 6" X 8 1/2"
Mélaina Cholé, from Ancient Greek μέλας (melas), and χολή (kholé), is a photographic exploration of humoral theory conceived by Hippocrates. This theory explained physical and psychological health or illness in terms of the state of balance or imbalance of various bodily fluids. According to Hippocrates (5th century bce), health was a function of the proper balance of four humors: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Volk, in particular, focuses on black bile, described as a cold and dry fluid, generated by the archetype of the earth.
Within the book, we find images of the planet earth seen from space, of human body cells, and of people's faces following the theory of physiognomy of the time. Humoral theory provided psychology with its earliest personality typology, and Hippocrates’ ideas prevailed well into the 17th century. Extensive traces of this hegemony survive in modern language: the heart was indicated as the seat of feelings and in particular of love which, poetically, is "breath of life"; Melancholia is a feeling of sadness but also a serious form of depression. The same depression that, according to recent studies, will be the most widespread disease in the world in 2030.