The strength of colour is no secret. We associate it with feelings, phenomena and preferences, as we do to political fronts, movements and ideologies. Conventionally, feminism itself has a pink banner. It is not difficult to understand why (the binary definition of gender, the opposite colour being blue), but this is a rather dated representation in the face of intersectionality and intersectional feminism. Because of their immediacy, we use colours for communication and practical effects too. They are exploited through cinema, photography and all arts as a means of freely conveying certain emotions and are, therefore, roughly but tidily associated with specific emotional suggestions.
The polyhedral scene of women’s photography does not only embrace the spectrum of purposes, styles and tints in its entirety, but sometimes reconsiders and redefines the meaning of colours. Red is probably the most visually powerful one. Difficult to handle, it brings to mind intense emotions like love, passion and warmth on one hand, and anger, pain and violence on the other. For this reason, I called upon a photographer whose identity seems to lay within the very colour to guide us through its depths.
Her name is Chiara Leone (@chiarag.leone). In a conversation we had, she explained how the colour red is a crucial point in both her exploration and her message. Her artistic research is inextricably tied to questions on the role of women in society, on the ancient conflict between their being and their way of being in the world. Her images mirror a modest but, at the same time, powerful femininity that overcomes that culture which has drawn a neat division between body on one side and mind and soul on the other, causing the depression of women to mere sexual objects for too long. Through the colour red, she is trying to convey the belief that our body is the bridge to something deeper. It materializes our existence into the world: Sono io, sono qui! (It’s me, I’m here!).
Moreover, by imposing parsimony on the photographer in thought and gaze, the use of film strengthens the awareness of the physical limitedness of the world with all its manifestations and further motivates her search for what is beyond, for those mechanisms that delineate the worldly presence of women – not before the other, but before themselves.
Indeed, coherently with the matter of the article, the images are much more eloquent than their verbal interpretation. Chiara’s work, together with that of many photographers out there, is the proof of how colour can help solidify a voice, or create one where there is none. Through a bold, pitiless colour such as red, she gently communicates to others her existence as a woman and as a person, while the mildness of her tone, which defies and is defied in turn by the visual vehemence of the colour, is probably her greatest act of resistance.