Hailing back to Ancient Egyptian iconography, the ‘ouroboros’—a snake eating its own tail—is a symbol of the cyclical nature of life. A different snake, its body twisted and contorted, graces each cover of Marco Marzocchi’s new book Oyster. There are 480 books in total, and each front cover acts as the back cover of the next—the books are a nest of snakes, bodies twisted, forming one singular cycle. Made over the course of 10 years, the story that unfolds across the pages of this small Leperello book, published by Void, is a personal one: a journey of candid, prickly self-reflection that eventually resolves itself in a process of healing and forgiveness—a rebirth of sorts.
In the process of book-making, an unusual space of colliding time zones is created for the author: a space of reflection and encounters. It is here that you can spend time with familiar photographs, re-acquaint yourself with their protagonists, reckon with them, locate them in your present. For Marzocchi, Oyster was born from a difficult childhood, marked by the absence of his parents. “This work represents my experience in recovering and understanding my parents, their life and their relationship with me,” he explains. “I never knew them well because they split when I was six years old, and they both died young. Drugs, addictions, jail and dysfunctional environment—these were constant elements.”
His troubled past resurfaces with a brutal force in Oyster in small explosions of archival images, resurrecting latent memories in a bid to wrestle and come to terms with them. Annotated with Marzocchi’s intimate thoughts, their traces of neglect and sorrow linger in his own photographs, seeping into his own relationships. But amidst these fraught and grainy images of bodies bruised and scowling, constellations of tenderness and romance erupt.
Intertwining themselves into the folds of the photographer’s jagged narrative, they hint at new beginnings—at hope and intensity. Marsocchi reflects, “Oyster is focused on dealing with and replacing all the doubts and fears that I had. Exorcising the pain and searching for love.”