NATALIA MARTINEZ SAGAN

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Why is creating important to me? Because it makes me feel completely alive. Encouraged by the amazing creative woman my mom is, I started making things with my hands and playing with materials at a very young age. I remember being around 7 or 8 and thinking about my hands and this magical power they had to transform things: to turn clay into an object, a rag into a doll's skirt... Consequently, I understood that that transformative quality was this amazing opportunity to modify the world around me.

 
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For this particular project I wanted to explore the theme of potential. Because I work with discarded objects, I wanted to show not only that you can make something aesthetically attractive out of trash, but also to reflect on the fact that everything has hidden potential, we just need to look at things through a different glass. These plastic flowers will become part of a costume that will be photographed and will join the lines of a photographic portrait series featuring women that I started in my hometown of Buenos Aires. On one hand, 90% of everything you see on my visual projects (from the costumes to the props and backdrops) is made out of repurposed materials: textile waste, upcycled second hand clothes, discarded objects I find on the streets or buy at flea markets or thrift stores. On the other hand, all the humans featured in this photo series are women, both confident and beautiful.

I found these plastic treat birthday bags at my building's foyer in New York, where people generally leave stuff they no longer want. As my friend and mentor Debra Rapoport says: the material speaks to me. Once I had them in my hands, once I could feel the material and play with it, I knew which form it would take... in this case, they made the perfect base for flowers.

 
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I started making art and crafting at a very early age; my mom taught me how to sew at 8 and always encouraged me to create. At 9 I used to spend every single afternoon after school watching Art Attack; I had a notebook where I used to write down every project Neil, the host, would make, and then I would go out and try to recreate it... from toilet paper roll castles to sock puppets. At the same age I became obsessed with ecology (which was the topic in the mid 90s). In my early teens I joined a dance company as a dancer, and after school (with my still two best friends Gabriel and Damián) I would help the creative team make props, sets and costumes. Many years later, I ended up working as a - as a friend says - conscious costume designer, creative director and stylist mostly in theatre and photography, always prioritizing the use of materials that are already 'out there'.

 
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To me, this project is about reeveluating our connection to the immediate material world around us.  It might sound obvious, but I think we take for granted the materiality surrounding us and most of the times don't even question it... from the plastic cup you got your iced coffee in this morning, to the toothbrush you used afterwards. Even though I believe there's a collective increase in awareness, we still live in a culture that praises disposability in everything: from food to fashion. Through my art I try to shine a light (even if it's a tiny one) on these matters. Matters that sometimes keep me awake at night!

I see this project going wherever it takes me. My main aspiration is that it will keep opening up conversations around me, and will inspire others to look at things differently and  take action to craft the better world we all want to see. 

 

 

Check Natalia out on Instagram and her website.