Les inconnues | Alessandra Calo

The work was born as a tribute to Anna Atkins and Constance Fox Talbot, the first women who were adopting the photography medium to make illustrated books. The study of their work gave me the opportunity to research and use the first printing techniques such as calotype and cyanotype. The project is also a tribute to female beauty, the protagonists of the pictures are unknown people images found on the website. The project is also my personal reflection about the concept of “latent image”. Indeed I wanted to impress on glass, a portion of female portraits, which resembles more a dream materialization then a real professional photo. The printing process is a particular technique invented by me: I create negatives starting from the female found images on the web, then I adopt ancient printing technique such as Calotype and gelatin silver print on glass. The use of handmade photosensitive emulsions is both a tribute to the times these photographers were living in the nineteenth century, as well as it allowed me to compare myself with the natural element and the unpredictability of outputs. Indeed the final texture itself is unique and mysterious, pointing out the difficulty and the humanity of the process, where the defect is a predominant characteristic.
The presences of Les Inconnues can be considered the result of an investigation about beauty and the attempt to go back in time, as if I wanted to get in touch with women of the history of photography.