Dear Ana -Postcards FOR my grandmother
Dates2017 - Ongoing
- Topics Portrait, Social Issues, Documentary
- Location Portugal
Dear Ana is about my journey back to my grandmother’s motherland, Portugal. It's the photographic diary of my return to the land of my ancestors.Its also a socially engaged collaborative project, mixing fantasy and reality, with the people I encountered. An European story, a perfect time to tell it.
Dear Ana -Postcards for my grandmother
The project Dear Ana is about my journey back to my grandmother’s motherland, Portugal. It's the photographic diary of my return to the land of my ancestors. A trip I did for myself and for my grandmother who could never return in life. Its also a socially engaged collaborative project, mixing fantasy and reality, with the people I encountered. They were invited to write Ana a postcard as if they were her personal friends. The friends she never had but believed she did while dying with Alzheimer's in Brazil 12 years ago. And in the process I discovered relatives we never knew existed.
The Portuguese have an intense relationship with the sea. They say "Alem Mar-Beyond the Sea" -to describe the people that have gone, or the things that exist beyond the ocean. My grandmother Ana made that crossing to Brazil as a young girl and I came back from there. With me I brought her longing and her ashes.
In her final years in Brazil- with her memory already confused by the onslaught of Alzheimer's - Portugal grew bigger in my granny’s consciousness. Even though she had left so early, memories of her early childhood became increasingly vivid and her impressions of her motherland very real. Her soul created imaginary friends and now, years later I went to look for them.
In April 2017 I made a journey back to her small town of Mundão (big world in Portuguese) to find people that could have been her friends and invite them to write her a postcard - those cards and letters she never received. In the cards they "tell her” of their pains and joys. From the oldest man in town to younger kid, all understood it was fictional, "romance" they would say. Their photos are in the front of each postcard. Through them I learn what her life might have been like, had she not gone to Brazil, beyond the sea.
As well as the postcards made with the inhabitants of the small village of Mundão, a more subtle series of images started to emerge as a diary. They reflect of how incredibly moved I was by what I found, by my encounters with the people of my ancestors land, their spaces, the ruins of long abandoned houses, the landscape...
My granny was born 100 years ago. This is a personal journey that hopes to also touch on the universality of immigration as a subject. Europe seems to be engulfed more than ever in a borders and nationalism debate as part of the populist mood sweeping much of the world right now. It’s therefore easy to forget that, in the past, people have left this continent en masse. Some never came back, others did or their descendants did. The longing that occurs when someone abandons their land in any point in history is also a pain that is universal independently of status and location.
This is an European immigration story and this is a perfect time to tell it.We have always moved. Europe has for so long been receiving people but also losing them to new continents. I want to see and show people for the individuals they are and not some distorted idea of what they represent.
I hope that when this project is finished it will include:
My returning journey "diary" with photos and personal words
The written postcards by Ana's fictitious friends
Archive documents of my immigrant family (photos, birth certificate, immigration port stamp when entering Brazil)
Examples of the 3 types of images described above are submitted. With the grant money I would like to go back to Mundão to finalise the project and hope to publish a book.