Natalie González, Como Escapar #2, 2012. Fish cast in ice.
A conversation with Mexican-American artist Natalie González, whose multi-disciplinary practice spans sculpture, photography, video, and drawing.
Much of your photographic work explores place or displacement. What are you looking for when you photograph a particular location or scene?
There isn’t anything concrete that I am looking for. I am creating an archive. I make photographs so that I have something physical instead of just memories. I find that I forget places and events so I photograph them to have evidence that they happened.
The ephemerality of your sculptural work means that pieces live on only in their photographed form. Do you see a strong division between the sculpture and its documentation, or are both equally significant components of the work?
The ephemeral sculptures, at the end of the day, I make for myself. I am the only one who experiences them in their true physical form. The photograph is what I present to others as evidence that I went out and made something. This separation is important to me. I want to have a special connection to the work that I do not want to share with others.
Natalie González, Self-portrait, 2012. Archival Inkjet Print.
You place yourself in your works both physically, in your self-portraits, and abstractly, through the anecdotal nature of your work. How different do these approaches to self-depicting feel to you?
They do not feel very different to me. I feel that all my work is self-portraiture. I cannot detach myself from my work even if I am not present physically. I am telling a story and that story is me: what I see, what I have been through and how I see it. There is no other way that I can tell it. I have only been me and can only see things the way I do because of my upbringing and all of the events that have brought me to this point.
Your practice deals with the extremely intimate subject matter of your own emotional upheavals. Is it a struggle to allow so much of you to be revealed through your work?
It is hard for me. I cannot read my own writing aloud. I am afraid of rejection and of others not understanding or validating what I feel. In society, it is not okay to be sad, to be depressed or suicidal; it is a sign of personal weakness that must be corrected. My work has been an outlet to express my sometimes-strong emotions that I need others around me to know exist.
Looking ahead to the following months; do you have any new projects coming up?
In December, I will be moving back to my hometown of La Paz, Mexico. I am very excited to go back there and to explore the landscape that I had always taken for granted. Once I set up my studio, I will continue working in photography and make sight-specific sculptures in the mountains.
Work by Natalie Gonzalez can be seen until 31 January 2014 at Above / Below Ground, an exhibition produced and curated by Mark Dion and Amy Yoes at The Accademia Fisiocritici Museum, Siena, Italy.
For more information on her practice, visit http://www.natalie-gonzalez.com.