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February 18, 2022


Photography by Francesca Tiboni
Story by Karen Ghostlaw Pomarico

Francesca Tiboni is a photographer living in Cagliari, Italy since 2005. Cagliari is the capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia. Under the buildings of the modern city uncovered in the layers of archeology is a civilization that dates back some five thousand years spanning history from Neolithic to today. This old Medieval city rich in culture and history, many customs, and traditions has helped evolve her photography in unexpected ways.

Francesca first picked up a camera at the age of eight, a passion she says she has inherited from her father and never abandoned. Francesca started as a self taught photographer, and did not feel the need to share her photography, and describes this beginning of her artistic photographic process. “Photography is sort of a personal journey, a way to get to know and better understand the world around me, at the same time, to process the emotions inside me. A degree in Oriental languages ​​and a career in corporate communication were the natural expression of the desire to research and take a closer look at the point of view of others, translating information from the perspective of the complexities and diversities from one culture to another”.

Life changed when Francesca became a mother, “The moment I became a mother, the need arose in me to communicate with images in a less descriptive and more metaphorical way. In particular, the attempt to portray the complexity of my children pushed me towards the contemplation of the beauty and complexity of the world.”

Francesca is involved in an ongoing collaboration with her daughter Cecilia. A project they call “Something about the future.” Francesca explains her and Cecilia’s directives. “We investigate through a series of collaborative portraits, the transition into adulthood." They explore together the definition of identity, with the overlap of conflicting emotions such as expectations, pride, hope, and fear. Together hand and hand they support one another and share the struggles and triumphs of the natural progression in life, of becoming an adult.


Francesca and Cecilia’s project began when Francesca’s role as mother and role as woman became unclear. After experiencing the transition and complete selfless fusion with the bond of motherhood, she investigates what that projection of unity conveys towards her young children reappropriating their identity. This exploration has led to new discoveries taking a curious perspective that moves from the outside to the inside, revealing the complexities of transitions and transformations. We make these changes not only as a mother with children, but also for the child's development as they evolve gaining their independence and identity, tied to family but unique to their own being.

We evolve as we grow and age. There are pieces of the past, that influence the present, that combine to change the future. Francesca describes the metamorphosis of transition and transformation of her daughter Cecilia as she experiences life through the challenges and enlightenments that come with the adolescence of a young woman. “The desire to describe the evolution of my daughter Cecilia began when she was 8 years old, today she is 11. Observing her I saw a poem that spoke not only of her, but of all the promises waiting to be fulfilled. As Cecilia grows so does the dialogue between us. I relive and retrace in a therapeutic way my own history which was characterized by a strong conflict with my mother and her refusal to give space both to my femininity and to my growth as a woman.”

Francesca has watched her daughter from early years transitioning to a young woman today and describes what she has witnessed. “There is something poetic in girls, a combination of delicacy and strength, an anticipation of what will be the woman of the future that is sometimes already legible in the pride that is expressed in the first years of age.” Cecilia has always been a thoughtful girl, engaging in the world around her. She loves to enter and animate Francesca’s photographic work, playing with shapes and colors: “Photography is an art that fascinates me a lot and I enjoy making photographs with mom. When we collaborate it is as if our souls come together and since we love each other very much, we create beauty.”

Cecilia reports that she feels “Immense satisfaction” when she sees the images she has created with her mom and about the role she plays, she believes that, “It’s not that I have one role and my mom another...we get in tune and create together.”

Francesca describes how her daughter experiences this interaction. “Cecilia plays with fabric drapes that she chooses both for their colors and for the way they drape and wrap around her body. The dimension of play and lightness is fundamental. The more she goes into adolescence, the more she tends to envelop herself in the drapes that become her cocoons. Her desire is to find and discover who she is in the images of herself. Cecilia’s body is constantly changing, as does the appearance to others, increasing Cecilia’s awareness.”

Francesca sees that in Italy there has been a cultural effort for young girls to look at female models like writers, activists, scientists for inspiration and the aspirations of what a woman should be. Cecilia asks her mother Francesca “Why in Cagliari, the city we live in, there has never been a female mayor?” This concerns Francesca and makes her wonder if it is a legitimate ambition of a child to have infinite possibilities of realization in front of them, be integrated with the foretelling of the obstacles and discrimination that they may encounter along the way.

Together Francesca and Cecilia are opening up a dialogue, communicating through their interactions with the use of the photographic process to discuss together their role as women as they evolve.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author/s, and are not necessarily shared by The Pictorial List and the team.

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