An Artist's Alter Ego Brings Otherworldly Textiles to Life
A Chilean creative producer is using an alter ego to call attention to the importance of handmade garments.
Photo: Mairo Arde
A Chilean artist is creating outlandish, eye-catching garments specifically to ensure that they won’t be ignored. Ingrato is the alter ego of Sebastián Plaza Kutzbach, a creative producer at The University of Chile, who uses traditional textile processes to make garments that are designed to attract attention. Kutzbach tells The Creators Project why he invented the alter ego and what he’s trying to do with it: “The project was born because of the need to show the artisan's work that exists in my country and its devalued state because of the textile industry. Everything that I display as 'Ingrato' is handmade.”
Chile has a rich history of textile art. The Mapuche, for example, are an indigenous Chilean culture that are known for traditional garments, which were once so highly valued that one of their ponchos could be traded for multiple horses. Kutzbach is concerned that Chilean garments now have to compete with a globalized textile industry that’s decreasing their worth in comparison to cheaper, factory-made garments. Kutzbach’s intention is to highlight the artistry behind Chilean textiles, especially their handmade qualities, and to illustrate their creative possibilities. “The concept seeks to intervene the human body in different ways,” says Kutzbach. And considering that Ingrato translates to “ungrateful,” it seems that one intervention that Kutzback is determined to achieve is an increase in appreciation for the skilled labor involved with textile production.
Kutzbach says he is always striving to showcase the work that goes into the production of the garments for the Ingrato project in new and different ways. “My process of creation is experimental depending on the garment I want to create and I have in mind, always the processes are changing.” Luckily, Kutzbach documents his evolving processes and interventions extensively on social media. These interventions often include groups of people knitting and crocheting in public as well as participating in events by wearing their handmade creations. These images clearly illustrate how successful Kutzback is at attracting attention with his work.
A video from the Modamorphosis series, created by audiovisual producers LENGUA, documents the process that Kutzbach goes through to make his garments. Starting with the sketching out of a design, the video moves through steps like dyeing the fiber that will be used to make the garment. The brilliantly colored fibers that result are then woven, knitted, and crocheted by hand. In contrast to these traditional processes, the resulting garments appear distinctly otherworldly, an effect which is accentuated by the remote landscape in which the video takes place. The models in the video end up looking almost like aliens in a sci-fi movie, a poignant comment on our relationship to indigenous textile production processes.
- Sebastian Plaza Kutzbach