Francesca Todde has an array of animal-focused photography projects. Two that stand out to me are Dioramas and Constellations. Her images of dioramas at the Natural History Museum of Milan are wide and with a prominent vignette, giving the scenes a feel that is at the same time whimsical and convincing. Some of the pictures are made from an angle that feels cinematic, and in the case of the bears and seagulls photo particularly, I have to remind myself that I’m looking at a diorama and not a dark, dramatic vision of the wild.

Todde’s Constellations series is unlike anything I have seen before. The images are digital collages made from vintage books about animals, and they are both nostalgic and fresh. They reference one of the many ways animals are incorporated in society, which Todd details in her statement.

From the artist’s statement: The relation between nature and culture has played an important role in art through the centuries: we have sought the shape of the animals in the constellations, we have represented them in the paintings of the prehistoric caves, we used them as mirrors to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of our moral behavior in fairy tales, we use them as symbols even today in trademarks of our companies, from car industry to footwear. In my research I explore what remains today of the ancestral relation with the animals, how they survive in images in our overcrowded cities, who are the people who still maintain a relationship of close contact with animals, such as what kind of answers can today give the animals if you put them the question of a different relationship with the man. I think that looking at this relationship, studying the animal kingdom, the natural behaviors and social structures of animals, ultimately accepting our primary need of interdependence with other natural species, we have the possibility to find new truths about our society and get in touch with the deepest part of ourselves.

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