Martha Naranjo Sandoval is a New York-based filmmaker and visual artist from Mexico City. Her work focuses on the materiality of image; in the difference between how time is portrayed in moving and still image; and in how images gain significance culturally.
She holds a degree in Film a Television from Centro de Diseño, Cine y Televisión (Mexico City) and an MFA from the International Center of Photography and Bard College. She was part of the .357 Estudio y Espacio Creativo photography project residency in 2012, in 2014 she won the Conacyt-FONCA scholarship for studies abroad, and in 2017 she was part of the Flux Factory Artist-in-residence, for which she organized the community project Día de Muertos. She edited the book After the Fact, which included pieces by Martha Wilson, Katherine Hubbard, Nona Faustine, among others. Along with artist-curator Groana Melendez, she organized platforms to showcase artists and promote critical conversations, including a series of interviews for the Camera Club of New York and the event Mexican Tertulia in conjunction with the festival Celebrate Mexico Now.
Family photographs are important to me. My dad is from a low-income family who could only afford to have two photographs take him as a kid. My mom is from a family of nine siblings, all of them orphaned when she was a teenager. All their pictures are scattered among my aunts and uncles and rarely do I get to see what my grandfather looked like, and only then on a phone picture of a picture.
My dad took a lot of pictures of me growing up. When I moved to the US away from my family, it became evident that if I wanted a family album I would have to take the pictures myself. I had recently lost years of my life to a defective Hard Drive so I started to take analog pictures of my daily life. I’ve documented my life since 2014 in a collection that will go on until I am able to keep it going. I’ve used the same camera and same type of roll since I started this project, now titled 35mm Diary. As of January 2021 more than three hundred rolls are part of this collection, neatly organized by date.
I initially started this project for myself to have something to remember different times of my life. I am an immigrant so the impermanence of homes is not lost on me. I decided to open these photographs to the public because I collect stranger’s family pictures and use them in my practice. It felt fair to expose my own intimacy if I was showing someone else’s.
Family pictures create communal spaces. I remember when a family member would invite us over for a carrousel viewing of an event or when someone would bring out an album as a means of reminiscing. Since last year, I have been selecting one picture from this project every week and mailing it as a postcard to five different people every time. In the ideal circumstances, I would like to host viewings in which people would flip through stacks of pictures and pass them around. I want to invite the audience to view them and create a new communal space that provides for them.
To view more of Martha Naranjo Sandoval’s work please visit their website.