“It has a great past and a nostalgic present,” says photographer Cristina Coral of Trieste, her hometown in northeastern Italy, which has been massively inspirational for her over the years. “[Trieste] is where I spent my youth and where I currently live and I will always feel very connected with this city.” Growing up here, her father Giampaolo Coral, a famous composer of classical and contemporary music, created an artistic environment in which Cristina developed her lifelong love of art, music, film, philosophy and aesthetics. “I’ve always been very curious and my childhood was very inspiring,” she says.
Looking at Cristina’s photographs, we can see elements of her past and her interests coming through. The grand architecture and ornate interiors are reminiscent of Trieste’s palatial buildings, while the velvet red curtains and rowed seating bring to mind the cinema or the theatre. The careful compositions and often dramatic positioning of the figures in her photographs feel equally cinematic, and resemble stills from films or the theatrics of the stage. Some of her images build on narratives about “hidden beauty” or stories that are contained within the room, while others are focused simply on the “geometry and minimalism” of the space. All however are connected by a thread of nostalgia that runs through her practice.
“Everyday life is my favourite source of inspiration, though memories are also a relevant theme and very present in my work,” explains Cristina. “I think that our memories make us who we are. In my case, through my photography, I have discovered a lot about myself.” Studying Cristina’s oeuvre, we notice that the female figures in her photographs are always solitary, with multiple figures appearing only ever to be reflections or repetitions of the same figure. Sitting on chairs, covered by curtains, lying on floors, they seem almost to be a part of the furniture, as opposed to a human presence. Perhaps this can be interpreted as a nod to notions of memory, in which we frequently feel ourselves to be detached from our surroundings or from those around us. The world we inhabit in our memories is entirely ours and yet we feel somehow distant from it.
“Every single aspect [of my creative process] plays a major role in my photography,” Cristina tells us. “I spend a lot of time scouting for the right place and when I find it I immediately recognise it because it activates my imagination – the space I choose must contain my ideas and my vision.” This is evident in the images, with interiors that are either as important as the figure within them or otherwise swallow the figure almost entirely. The possible interpretations of each image are myriad – is there a narrative to be unravelled, a scene to unpack, or is it simply an exploration of space, texture, colour and composition? Cristina leaves it up to the viewer to decide: “My focus is the aesthetic. I would like for the picture’s aura to be moulded by the observer.”
Gallery(Copyright © Cristina Coral, 2021)
(Copyright © Cristina Coral, 2021)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.