Dear Ana Back
Dear Ana-Postcards to my grandmother,
"Dear Ana is about my journey back to my grandmother’s motherland, Portugal. I went for her, who could never return in life. It's also a socially engaged collaborative project with the people I encountered. They were invited to write a postcard to my long dead grandmother and be the fictional Portuguese friends she never had. This is a very personal story yet an universal European story of immigration. This is a perfect time to tell it.
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 Ana’s 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. The friends she never had but believed she did while dying with Alzheimer's in Brazil 12 years ago.
In April 2017 I made a journey back to her village 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. I told them stories about Ana and through their written collaborations I learn what her life might have been like, had she not gone to Brazil, beyond the sea. Incredibly, in the process I discovered relatives we never knew existed.
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 almost 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 is 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 story and this is a perfect time to tell it.
This project includes: My returning journey "diary" with photos and my words to Ana, The written postcards by Ana's fictitious friends. Archive documents and images of my immigrant family.