Snakefire: Arko Datto’s Portrait of the South-East Asian Night

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© Arko Datto© Arko Datto

© Arko Datto© Arko Datto

© Arko Datto© Arko Datto

© Arko Datto© Arko Datto

© Arko Datto© Arko Datto

© Arko Datto© Arko Datto

Covering a span of four years, Arko Datto’s Snakefire presents a portrait of the Malay/Indonesian night and is the second instalment of an existential trilogy on night time, night life and night space – three essential elements that exist both in grudging harmony and brutal confrontation.

Nighttime is often when both humans and animals revert to their truest and most intense physical and psychological states. Arko Datto looks at the night and life that subsists in nightly spaces, often in direct and brutal confrontation with each other, walking through it as if it was a dream. The book is conceived as a dream itself, as a non completely conscious state in which repetition, overlaying and visions are the reference points for a path into the unknown.

“During my time in south-east Asia, notably in Penang, while snakes crawled about at the Snake Temple, the world’s largest recorded python slithered out of its tropical jungle home one day into a construction site nearby, in obvious physical pain. Amidst unwarranted media frenzy and hysteria, it died in the arms of humans three days later while giving birth to an offspring. In neighbouring Indonesia, mistaken for a wall hanging perched above me, a giant snake’s head moth flew away when a lizard challenged it while the world’s largest mud volcano exploded into being, threatening all land and life around it. Locals believe that a giant spirit snake dwells deep within this possibly man-made volcanic eruption.

Snakefire is dedicated to this paradise that has been lost to unmediated human greed, a greed which has lost all sense of balance and harmony in its relentless march towards evermore consumption and evermore appropriation from Mother Nature.” —Arko Datto

Snakefire is published by L’Artiere.

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