This is my God
by Ana Mendes
Hsynien Wei Cynthia, Taiwan, 2012
‘This is my God’ is a photographic series and video collection initiated during the 18th International Residency Studio Program, City of Weimar/ACC Gallery that I attended in 2012, in Germany. Upon my arrival in the city, I enrolled in an integration course for immigrants who need to learn German to get a visa permit residence. I decided then to invite them to come to my studio and to bring an object that meant God for them in abstract terms. Using that object, I developed the video and photo series. For instance, one Taiwanese girl brought me a bowl with rice and incense because in her home country people pray with it, whereas a Turkish man chose a pair of Nike shoes, because he is an atheist and Nike is the name of the Goddess of Victory in Greek.
‘This is My God’ is a collection that explores the identity of the immigrants together with the concept of otherness and spirituality in the simplest way possible – the person, a white wall, natural light and an object. My purpose is to investigate to what extent the immigrants, as the outsiders of society, are closer to the concept of otherness, and thus being able to accept and understand other people. Simultaneously, I am also interested in exploring the identity of the immigrants – how do they build their identity when living in a foreign country, what do they decide to keep from their original background and adopt from the new environment in which they are.
The collection is composed of 40 portraits, gathering together immigrants from 26 different nationalities living in the USA, UK, Belgium and Germany.
Ana Mendes is a Portuguese performer, writer and visual artist living in London and Berlin. She studied Performance at Goldsmiths College, London, Animation Film at La Poudrière – École du film Animation, France, and Photography at Bauhaus University, in Germany. Her work revolves around the idea of movement and rhythm. Ana develops projects in which she combines video, sound, photography and text in order to speak on subjects such as identity, language, memory and otherness. Her works have been shown extensively in Europe, USA and Canada and she was the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including the Writer in Residency City of Vienna 2014, by Kulturkontak Austria and Bilderministerium fur Kunst und Kultur, Vienna 2014; Residency Maisons des Artes Georges Pompidou, Cajarc, France; Prize of the Jury Sophiensaele, Festival 100º Berlin, Germany 2013; Act Arriaga Prize, Act – Performing Arts Festival, Bilbao, 2012, Spain; Second Prize Lift Off – Lift Art Gallery, USA; ACC Gallery/City of Weimar Fellowship 2012; Artistas Unidos New Writing Competition 2008 and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Fellowship. 2010.
ana (at) ana mendes dot com
All material was provided by the artist.
This work was submitted by Ana Mendes on 19 October 2014.