Alchimia Blu

Alina Chirila
hand and robe 2-800

Alina Chirila is an experimenter. Never one to follow a rule book, she will learn the fundamentals of a process and then play with ingredients, timings and formulas until she gets exactly what she wants. Her camera-less chemigrams (see Explorations of the Hidden) are a prime example of this experimentation in an abstract form. Her Cyanotypes are a more structured result of fiddling with formulae.

The cyanotype formula, one of the original chemical processes used for photography, is notorious for its unforgiving penchant for hard contrast. Yet Chirila has somehow been able to coax fluid mid-tones from the paper in creating these images. The results can be seen below.

“When it’s happening living escapes me. I am a memory of myself.”
(Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life)

I’ve started this series of cyanotype highly influenced by the work of Clarice Lispector. Her writing is fractured, cerebral, fundamentally nonnarrative, of intimate, convulsive beauty, her voice so personal and private, describing quiet moments of rumination. Her line from A Breath of Life stuck in my mind and became the title of this series.

Most of my work is self-exploratory and the main subject this series is being. Each photo can be seen as a precise portrait of an encounter with the secret to life: the nothing that subtends everything, the inevitable encounter with nothingness. All the images have a reflective and meditative stance, as they explore themes of nature, solitude, and passing of time in short narrative sequences. The choice of cyanotype as a process felt counterintuitive, using the simplest historical process to express the most basic but complex human experience, ephemeral and barely graspable truths, ordinary humanity.

Some of the cyanotypes belonging to this project became part of an artistic collaboration with the poet Nokyoung Xayasane for the book The Girl Who Was Thursday Night, published by Stonegarden Studios.


Alina Chirila is a self-taught film photographer, interested in analog and historical printing techniques. She defines her practice as an exploration of experience, of self and other and of the relationship with the world. Alina is compelled by film in its many different forms and ways of capturing light on it. After moving to Canada in 2009 she started experimenting with alternative processes in photography, attracted by the multiverse of colors, tones, and textures that it offers. Over the years Alina’s fascination with film and traditional printing methods has grown and has led her to pursue and experiment with different methods of manipulating photographic materials. She currently lives and works as a psychotherapist in Waterloo, Canada.

~ Posted by Mark Walton