Feminine Symbolism

by Chiara Dondi

I have always chosen feminine individuals trying to understand their secrets, thoughts and fears. Looking to the mountain of photos that I have in my archive I can find out this central idea of introspection, like a big research of a common language that can go beyond our differences. This selection wants to give this idea of strength, fragility and gestures in an all women’s way.

I’m a film photographer based in Italy. I grew up in northern Italy and studied design in Florence. I was interested in painting since I was a little child and while growing up, I discovered photography. During these years I developed my technique with analog photography, trying to combine film photography with my painter’s soul.

After the development, I use to colorize the photos with watercolors and give my unique interpretation of that particular moment.

I always use bioptical cameras with B&W Ilford film. My inspiration comes from my background, from my family’s traditions and home-place and from music. I always accompanied a new shoot with an inspirational musical soundtrack.

— Chiara Dondi

From the Editor

If you’ve visited our website or flipped through an issue of Diffusion, you know I’m a fan of seeing the artist hand in photography. These hand-painted gelatin silver prints by Chiara Dondi are no exception. I remember when I first saw hand tinted/colored gelatin silver prints while studying photography in college — and immediately I rejected the notion. I think this was primarily because the examples I was given were either a photo preservation technique or horribly gimmicky commercial work. In later years, I started seeing quality photographs using this painterly aesthetic in a more purposeful way (a lot of which I’ve been publishing in Diffusion over the years), but specifically contemporary works by Aline Smithson, Smith Eliot and classic images by the multi-disciplined Cleora Clark Wheeler drew my attention. Which bring me to the topic of femininity addressed here by Italian artist Chiara Dondi, a largely popular topic of examination in photography and art in general. Dondi’s personal approach, depicted both female forms as well as the feminine gaze back at the viewer, are visual clues to the artist interest in this exploration and I’m curious to see how this develops in her work going forward.

— Blue Mitchell

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