Delirium is a new piece from Sweden-based Hasselblad Ambassadors Cooper & Gorfer. Photographed in a studio built inside a hospital, it captures the struggle of healthcare workers against the pandemic.
Known for their visually rich collage portraits and free visual language, Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer work focuses on female subjects while exploring powerful, political and personal themes. The fine art duo met in Sweden in 2005 while studying their master, and has Sarah Cooper says, “we released each other’s creativity, sort of that perfect storm”, so they decided to work together and set studio in Gothenburg.
With backgrounds in fine art photography/music production and architecture, respectively, Sarah Cooper (Pittsburgh, USA) and Nina Gorfer (Vienna, Austria) led different careers before photography became their common base. Now their creative partnership and collaborative work allows them to build narratives as Delirium, which represents their need to “humanise the story”. By getting close, the duo says, “it enabled us to face our own fears. The arts have a place in reclaiming this. The vulnerability of both the patients and healthcare workers needs the nuance of the creative approach to best capture it.”
Like an epic Renaissance battle
Delirium, that embodies the Covid-19 pandemic, captures the constant struggle of healthcare workers fighting through this historical tragedy. Some suggest that it is beautifully reminiscent of the frontlines of an epic Renaissance battle, the soldiers consisting of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and anaesthesiologists grapple with handling symbolic comatose patients in their quest to save them. The authors tell the whole story in one article published by Hasselblad, but here at ProVideo Coalition we share some of the images and the behind-the-scenes video revealing how the project was created.
Connecting with Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Mölndal just outside of Gothenburg, Sweden, Cooper & Gorfer worked closely with members of the Intensive Care Unit tending to Covid cases. “The idea was that we wanted to get all the facets of those who care for patients in a critical Covid situation, so it was a blend of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, and anaesthesiologists. And we wanted to focus on the women so as to be true to our other bodies of work,” explains Sarah Cooper.
Building a studio inside a hospital
Similar to Cooper & Gorfer’s other works, Delirium was composed in stages. To create a full picture for the artists, they were walked through the different stages of what happens to a Covid patient upon arrival to the hospital. Afterwards, they conducted short interviews with the staff to get a true understanding of their emotions.
The second stage consisted of building up a photo studio at the hospital. Directing their subjects on the spot, they could bring together their vision of this heroic battle. “After the photoshoot, we work as we always do with collaging, taking apart the image, deconstructing and then reconstructing the image, because the feeling that we really wanted to achieve was this continuous struggle. When you look closely at the image, you see that actually some of the subjects are repeating. It’s many moments in time with many moments of their struggle. In total, we actually only photographed 7 care workers,” says Nina Gorfer.
To read the whole story, including technical info about the Hasselblad cameras used to shoot Delirium, follow the link to Hasselblad’s website. All the images and video are published courtesy of Hasselblad and the final images are published courtesy Cooper & Gorfer.