cochlea (2023)

 As the belief that humans are superior to animals has become largely adopted, many societies have forgotten the innate connection and similarities we hold to other animals. Cochlea is a photographic series that unveils the bridge that links humans to land snails. These small creatures are eaten, melted by salt, stepped on, and often seen as pests, yet I believe they possess a mystical quality and a likeness to humans that has not yet been deeply explored. For several ancient civilizations the snail played an integral role in their creation stories—symbolizing the sun and moon, or serving as a vessel in which materials of the earth were carried. The shell of the snail, made from calcium and aragonite houses the snail’s organs, and its spiral pattern is symbolic of eternity and the continuous circle of life and death. The slime of land snails has restorative and hydrating properties to it, often being implemented in anti-aging and regenerative skin care routines and products. I sought to portray the connections between humans and snails, and to highlight the dichotomy of the nature of the snail—slimy and squeamish, yet beautiful and full of symbolism.

© helena ernst