Olga Cafiero 

Sans Titre 

Sans Titre

About the artist

Swiss photographer Olga Cafiero has been working for several years on a series of images entitled Curioso, which she describes as a cabinet of curiosities. She loosely combines scientific objects: skeletons, Renaissance-inspired portraits and plant specimens. The result is arranged into a clever little cabinet, composed of disparate items: a thistle alongside a lab instrument, a greyhound with quartz crystals. Through these quirky companionships, the nature of the studied object becomes blurred: a plant comes closer to the world of machines, with its perfection and symmetry, while the machine seems to turn into a new plant species, with its bunch of multi-coloured cables rooted in the ground. Olga Cafiero offers us a precious object of study: she captures its perfect geometry and linear outline in delicate black and white.


What is this plant, and how did it inspire you?
This is a picture I took in a botanical garden, a place I find fascinating and inspiring. I love this plant, because it has a very assertive structure, a kind of perfection and symmetry that is in stark contrast with the fact it’s a natural thing.
What I find interesting with this type of image is to enhance the object of study and collection aspect of a plant, which I further strengthen through the use of black and white to evoke the aesthetics of archive images.

This photograph is issued from
a large body of work entitled ‘Curioso’. What was the starting point for it and how do you select your topics ?
The starting point for my project was fairly intuitive and spontaneous. I began taking pictures of plants; in parallel, I was taking photographs of machines, as well as photos derived from Renaissance painting. When I compared all these images, I understood that this group was beginning to form a collection which, in a way, was inspired by Renaissance cabinets. Following this first stage, I began to take photos for ‘Curioso’. I developed the system for displaying them later on.

The cabinet of curiosities emerged during the Renaissance, in a small enclosed room, where the obects were often cheek by jowl, with no real logic apart from that of the collector. Here it is photography that has the task of evoking the object, the material nature of these curiosities. As for the physical space of the cabinet, it is conveyed by the installation. What is the latter’s role in your work?

The installation is an integral part of my project, every bit as much as the images. It makes it possible to create links between each image, although these exist as individual entities. Juxtaposing them with each other gives each image a new character, throwing up new interpretational possibilities for each of one. I like using some pictures as supports for other pictures; it gives a spatial dimension to each display.
The installation, like my search for images, is still being developed.

How did the combinations that you create here come about?
My criteria for combining images vary and can be based either on thematic unity, or simply the choice of colours or textures.
That said, in parallel with my photography, I carry out theoretical research centering on links between objects that are a priori unrelated, with the aim of developing concepts, of categorising my pictures and comparing them with each other.

Does this collection have an end? Or do you see it as an organic form that will evolve over the years, potentially indefinitely?

The two options are possible. I sometimes tell myself that one day I should move on to another subject. However, I am still very inspired by ‘Curioso’ and I have many new images in mind for this project. I also have new ideas for developing the system for displaying them and for exploring other avenues. Fundamentally, I believe that a collector ultimately never stops: it is possible that later on I will put this project to one side for a while; for the moment, I am not looking for a way to end it. 

Limited edition, numbered and signed.

Selected shows and awards

Too cool for school, Spazio Orso, Milan, 2012
Sélection photographie, 27ème Festival International de Mode et de Photographie, villa Noailles, Hyères, 2012
TOUCH, Le monde au bout des doigts, Mudac, Lausanne, 2012
Fashionality, Camera16 Contemporary Art, Milan, 2012
Swiss Confederation’s Design Award, Mudac, Lausanne, 2011
BFF-Förderpreis 2010, Köln, 2010
Young Curators, New Ideas, Bond Street Gallery, New York, 2008


Hyères, 27th International Festival of Fashion and Photography, finalist, 2012
Foam Talent 2012, Amsterdam
Swiss Confederation’s Design Award, 2011
Shots Young Photographers, finalist, 2010
BFF-Förderpreis 2010, Cologne

Selected publications


& order

Olga Cafiero 
Sans Titre


Technical information

Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta Paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


22 x 18 cm, Edition of 100 280.00 €

By the same artist

Olga Cafiero

By the same curator

ART LIGUE for "Bon Marché", Paris