Artist Highlight: Chiara Zonca
Chiara Zonca (b. 1982 in Milan, Italy) is a photographer based in London, United Kingdom.
She studied photography formally after high school and that was enough to put her off the profession for a while. Ten years later, after a successful career in video editing and motion graphic design, she re-discovered her love for still pixels and exploration.
She now seeks for remote and isolated spaces, documenting specific moments in time when changeable light or weather conditions alter her landscape perception. This necessary shift enables her to see past the present and investigate the earth as a timeless, untouched-by-humans, dream-like entity. Colour plays a big role in her creative process and it is an essential tool to convey her emotions.
Where are you based now and how would you describe what you do?
I am based in London UK at the moment, which I hate but it pays the bills. I work in the city as a motion graphic designer and then run away as soon as I get the chance. My work is the chronicle of this escape. A lost soul discovering the world with fresh eyes.
I am inspired by the unknown, something different that I have never seen before, a reminder of an hazy dream. I like to think of my images as surreal dreamscapes, places that could exist anywhere and anytime.
Describe the technical process you use to create your work
I shoot on both digital and analogue. I heavily treat digital photos, tweaking colours and pushing them till they match my imagination. Analogue to me is more of a documentary format. I never edit film scans, their raw nature feels perfect to record a moment with no interference. I think both styles need each other to tell the whole story of a place.
Why would you describe yourself as an environmental artist? What is the relationship between your work and nature?
Nature is the main source of inspiration. I like to portray remoteness, solitude and open spaces. It’s in nature that my mind feels clearer and I find artistic purpose. My solitary spirit finds a perfect balance in the wild, a deep feeling of belonging. When the human element is not present, it’s easier to see the landscape as a timeless entity. By removing the concept of time the image acquires power and mystery.
Would you say that your art is purpose-driven? If so, what do you aim to accomplish through your creative expression?
The concept of loneliness has often been perceived as negative by society.
I think there is beauty to be found in solitude, an unparalleled connection with yourself and with the environment. As this bond grows, I realise I need to do more to protect nature and keep it wild the way I enjoy it. Eventually I hope my work will inspire more people to seek for solitude, enjoy wilderness and live sustainable, nature-friendly lifestyles as a result. I’d like my images to ultimately turn into a heartfelt argument for preserving nature.
What do you hope your art communicates to those who come into contact with it?
A sense of freedom. A will to discover and explore this weird and wonderful planet of ours with overwhelming respect.
Which environmental issues and causes are you most passionate about?
I am very worried about global warming of course and the fact most of the glaciers on earth are melting and receding at record speed with all the consequences resulting from this. The idea we can’t go back and reverse the damage is equally daunting.
Also, on a smaller scale, I feel like there is a disconnect between appreciating nature and actually protecting it as a living, breathing thing. I, as a single minuscule person, need to do more to help the environment with my lifestyle. If you think about it, in big cities especially, pretty much all the commodities you enjoy hurt nature in a way or another: driving to work, getting a takeout, buying coffee outside, etc. I never actually realised how much plastic a single person throws away by just being lazy. I guess what I am trying to say is, first step is acknowledging your lifestyle is not as sustainable as you think and then making small improvements, day by day. I am at that stage now, will keep you posted.
Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions that you’d like to share with us?
Yes! An image from my latest series “Magma” is currently part of a group exhibit called “Ambient Landscapes” at the Black eye Gallery in Sydney, Australia. The show is running till Nov 12 so if you are around Sydney make sure you drop by. I am also working on a new series, shot in Chile and Bolivia between deserts and altiplano lagoons. Cannot wait to share it!