AFTER ATKINS: PETcorso Vita (2018-2019) Silver gelatin photograms 17.8x24 cm
Anna Atkins' “Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions” (1843) is considered the first ever book illustrated with photographic images. Atkins applied the photogram technique to botanical illustration: working without a camera or a negative, she placed algae and plants directly onto sensitized paper and exposed them to light, to produce captivating compositions which merged art and science. This project takes inspiration from such pioneering works to explore contemporary relations to the natural world and to the photographic medium. The series features wild flowers, weeds and other plant matter collected in my local woods (along the fitness trail known as "Percorso Vita" from which the series gets its name), as well as plastic beverage bottles gathered in the same places. The plastic shadows over the botanical shapes, sometimes barely visible, force the viewer to actively engage with the simultaneous layers of reality hidden in the landscape, and invite a broader reflection on our current relationship with our planet. These photograms are created by hand in the darkroom, using the early 20th century gelatin silver process. Each print is unique and unrepeatable, reclaiming the materiality of the photograph in the digital age, and questioning the need for a camera within the definition of photography.