An investigation into the romantic imaginary between alleged harmony and liberation from stereotypes: interview with Natalia Saurin by Margaret Sgarra

Italiano (Italian)

Visual artist born in Buenos Aires, she graduated in Architecture in Milan. She mixes different languages and techniques in her work, from photography to Fiber Art. Her investigative themes include the sentimental sphere, gender violence and the relationship between women and society. She currently lives and works in Finale Ligure.

Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin

When did you realise you were going to be an artist?

I can’t really say exactly when but art has always been part of my life since my mother is also an artist. From childhood onwards, I started to see many exhibitions. Contemporary art has always fascinated me and over the years I have realised that I am an artist because it is what makes me feel good and gives meaning to who I am.

Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin

Ti amo troppo (I love you too much) is the title of the series of 100 vintage postcards on which you intervened with cotton thread. This project seems to suggest a dialogue between yesterday’s society and today’s as far as relationships are concerned. Can you tell us more about how it was conceived?

During the first lockdown, I started embroidering and intervening with graphics on some postcards from a collection I had gathered over time on stereotypical loves. It was a moment to take ‘care’ of myself, to detach myself from the absurd reality we were experiencing, an altered domestic dimension, it wasn’t easy to find a moment of my own. Unable to move, I began to move forward, joining small stitches with thread and using materials I found at home. Ideally these postcards embody a desire for correspondence between me and the romantic imagery, so harmonious, but which in reality ends up being the most powerful mechanism for perpetuating patriarchy. I often work on stereotypes and romantic love is usually the basis of an unbalanced, unequal, sometimes violent type of relationship. Cohabitation and forced confinement due to Covid have also strained many relationship dynamics leading to a further increase in domestic violence worldwide.

The Kitchen is a series of works that reflects on stereotypes and whose symbolic subject is the red and white chequered tablecloth. What does this textile element represent for you?

In The kitchen, the red and white checked tablecloth becomes the background and stage of our existence and our anxieties. I am very attached to the Vichy fabric and have carried it with me for years, the red and white checkered pattern is a code of quality and tradition, it gives security, abundance and confers a common identity. I used it as a matrix for a reflection on the stereotype and the cages we are capable of creating for ourselves. I treated this work as an anomaly in the pattern, whose way out is represented by Lucio Fontana’s cuts, he cut to go beyond the two-dimensionality of the canvas, in my case the cut represents instead a liberation from the stereotypes that associate women with the home.

The kitchen series consists of a set of photos taken with the self-timer technique and then printed on fabric so as to create a series of cross-references between different materials.

Gli amanti, Natalia Saurin
Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin
Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin

The tablecloth appears again in Nostalgia, can you tell us about these works?

The checkered tablecloth also becomes the digestive and then the respiratory apparatus, through the act of sewing I reclaim these organs by composing a sort of anatomical table where anatomy (from the Greek “division by cutting”) loses its coldness to tell something about us. In this case, we see the body becoming a table setting, but also a place where social conventions are concretised. I really like the word ‘nostalgia’ because it originated as a medical term and then transformed over time into a poetic feeling.

Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin
Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin

Are there artists you are inspired by? And if so, who are they?

There are women artists I really like and who have certainly inspired me, such as Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, Sandy Skoglund, Mona Hatoum.

Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin

What are your next projects and what are you working on now?

Now I am working on a new project using an analogue printing technique, I am experimenting, and I am very happy to create a new work that takes me back to the materiality and the dawn of photography.

Ti amo troppo, Natalia Saurin

Margaret Sgarra

Read it in English Curatrice di arte contemporanea e Storica dell’arte, ha conseguito il Diploma di I livello in Didattica dell’Arte (Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino), successivamente ha perfezionato i suoi studi con una Laurea Magistrale in Storia dell’arte (Università degli Studi di Torino) e, infine, ha ottenuto una seconda Laurea Magistrale in Arti visive (Università di Bologna). Tra le sue principali tematiche di ricerca in ambito curatoriale troviamo: tutela dell’ambiente, identità e sfera emotiva. Ha collaborato con Paratissima ed è attualmente coinvolta, in qualità di curatrice, nella realizzazione di diversi progetti artistici.