Expérimentations menées en atelier par Ana Mendes en résidence
Ana Mendes, Expérimentation en atelier, 2018. Photo: ENE/Jean-Sébastien Veilleux photographe

Ana Mendes

Artist / Fall 2018


In her production, which brings together drawing, performance, photography, installation, and writing, Ana Mendes connects language to structure, visibility, and traces of identity. In her practice, language emerges not only as a means of communicating, but also as a way to be situated spatially and ideologically. It is both concrete and fleeting, just as borders are – sometimes physical, sometimes invisible, but often tenacious.

Ana links these identity-related issues with the current political and social context in her work, inscribing them within an engaged post-colonialist discourse. This position can be observed in projects such as Map Series, which begins with a performance during which Ana uses a sewing machine to “draw” new borders on old maps of colonies. At first the gesture seems planned, but the lines become more and more erratic, reflecting the historical violence involved in dividing territories.

During her residency at Est-Nord-Est, Ana worked on a project called Kinky, a series of embroidered fabrics whose apparent simplicity belies their violent political and sociological content. On muslin of the type used by the fashion industry to make samples, Ana began to do cross-stitch embroidery, using hairs taken from wigs as thread. The words embroidered on each piece were taken from the terms used to sell hairpieces and extensions made with natural human hair. She used these expressions emblematic of the marketization of an exoticized female identity – Virgin, Kinky, Charme – to create portraits with a jarring poetry. The common activity of embroidering became an intimate act, a way of coming into communion with the woman behind the thread – embroidering to gather and leave a mark, like a scar on skin.


Ana Mendes is a Portuguese visual artist and writer, based in London/Stockholm. She develops projects in which she uses drawing, photography, video, installation and text to speak about subjects such as language, identity and memory. Her work is very minimalist, and developed using fewer resources as possible, relying completely on concept/idea. Some of her works are developed in collaborative terms with other artists, labor workers and scientists.