with Inês Costa
‘… the pieces that I’m showing talk about possibilities of care and multiplying nourishment, and are almost in an infinite cycle.’
Listen to full interview here:
My name is Inês Neto dos Santos and I am a multidisciplinary artist. My work and my practice move between performance, installation and social sculpture. I’m interested in investigating the socio-political dimensions of what we eat and how it arrives on our plates. My work often involves creating contexts and frameworks through which we can explore collaboration, generosity, care and togetherness.
In recent years I have delved deeply into the practical and metaphorical dimensions of fermentation as a gateway into thinking about our multispecies existence and our relationships to our surroundings. My work often happens in participatory formats, like workshops or moment for knowledge exchange. I often also teach around these topics as well.
What are you showing in The London Open 2022?
I am showing a body of work that draws from work that I’ve been developing around fermentation and fermenting as a metaphor for ideas of community and collaboration. They have come out of the restriction of lockdown, of not being able to gather and be together with other people in a space, in knowledge exchange formats that are so familiar to me. This led me to create work that involves textile and also creating dyes for textiles through plants, often through a process of fermentation.
A big part of the work draws from stories that I have been researching around traveling ferments. I have been fascinated by stories of migrants or travellers who, at varying points of history, until very recently, have travelled with fermented cultures, starter cultures, for breads, yoghurt or cheese. This starter was essentially in their pockets or in their luggage as they were not able to travel with much. It’s about choosing to travel with something that contains an enormous amount of history, of personal identity, a connection to place, such as a sourdough starter that’s been spread on cloth and left to dry. It can be folded up and carried in a pocket or in luggage and then be reawakened wherever it ends up. For me it’s quite magical and incredibly resilient way of thinking about what it means to make home, what it means to belong somewhere, but also, how much the idea of borders can be constructed or is very much constructed. And how a cloth that might look dirty to anyone else’s eyes actually contains an enormous amount of information. The pieces that I’m showing draw a lot from these stories and are pieces that talk about possibilities of care and multiplying nourishment, and are almost in an infinite cycle.
As mentioned, your practice is workshop-based and, as COVID-19 hindered the possibility of gathering in person, you brought people together, albeit remotely, through the use of these textile based pieces. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
When faced with not being able to meet in person nor organise events where people gather, I turned to making objects, which is quite new to me. I wanted to make objects that would still be connected to the ephemeral, participatory side of my practice. I started thinking about ways in which I could tie in waste that was coming out of my kitchen or my ability to collect material, mostly plants, from my daily walks, and how to channel that into my work in order to create objects that would be representative of a moment in time. It was a way to think; how can something that is a physical object that can be carried in its same state or in a similar state across spaces, still communicate this idea of communion, of collaboration, of community? Not only in a human sense, but also beyond that.
Works in the exhibition:
Fermented fruits and vegetables (turmeric, cabbage, carrot, onion, garlic, salt, water, berries, citrus, sugar, honey, herbs), beans grown in situ, plant-dyed textiles, bronze, glass jars
Friends Who Ferment, 2022
Collaborative quilt through the hands of Aquela Kombucha, Carmen Facio, Fatima Tarkleman, Jelena Belgrave, Maya Minder, Melanie McIntosh, Petar Sapundjiev, Social Pickle, Thom Eagle, Victoria Manganiello and more
Inês Neto dos Santos (1992, Lisbon, Portugal)
2016 MA Visual Communication, Royal College of Art, London
2013 BA Graphic Design and Communication, London College of Communication
Selected exhibitions and performances: A Spring Gathering, San Mei Gallery, London (2022); The Dinner Table, San Mei Gallery, London (2021); Loop Film Festival, Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona (2021); Portal Tables, Stanley Picker House, London (2021); Nocturnal Creatures, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2021); A Hunted Time, Casa do Capitão, Lisbon (2021); The Invitational, Unit 1 Gallery, London (2021); Porto Design Biennale (2019); Life on Mars, Design Museum, London (2019); Edible Goods: Tender Touches, AMP Gallery, London (2019)
What makes London’s art scene so vibrant? What are the concerns of the next generation of artists? What insight does their work offer in challenging times?
This triennial exhibition showcases a cross-section of the most dynamic artistic talent from across the capital. Established in 1932, this much-celebrated open submission show features 46 London-based artists working across painting, sculpture, moving image, installation and performance.
Since the last London Open in 2018, the city has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, demonstrations demanding racial and climate justice, and widespread questioning of institutions and their structures.
The London Open 2022 traces the ways in which artists have witnessed and responded to these events with resilience and heart. In times of hardship and crisis, and when exhibitions were cancelled and moved online, these artists experimented with new sites of production and means of dissemination, from the kitchen table to the back garden.
The exhibition is loosely structured as a journey from the personal to the social, moving from individual to collective concerns, the cathartic to the poetic, the political and the environmental.
The artists were selected from over 2,600 entries by a panel of experts including collector Maria Bukhtoyarova, artist Shezad Dawood, curator and art historian Christine Eyene, gallerist Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja, with Whitechapel Gallery curators Emily Butler, lnês Costa and Wells Fray-Smith.
Gallery 1, Downstairs
The relationship between our bodies and the material world kickstarts the exhibition. Rafał Zajko‘s wall-based reliefs appear like hybrid beings, processing the gluten found in wheat and barley flour, leaving us unsure if this is for machine or human consumption.Likewise, Madeleine Pledge‘s stretched fabrics and ceramic boots imply absent bodies and their physical role in manufacturing.
Materiality and belief systems intersect in Candida Powell-Williams’ handmade objects. A unicorn and swing inspired by medieval tapestries are fenced off by a trellis, prompting questions about the divisions between what is mythical and real. Alicia Reyes McNamara‘s paintings feature non-binary, shapeshifting figures drawn from various mythologies, from Meso-America to Ancient Egypt, to consider alternative notions of time and embodiment.
Gallery 9, Upstairs
This gallery features works that delve into the impact of technology, algorithms and quantification on our lives. In his series The Spectre of a World Which Could Be Free 2019, Ben Yau looks at the parallel rise of Neoliberalism and the CIA’s role in sabotaging the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, bringing together both economic data and declassified documents.
Set in a parallel present reminiscent of sci-fi films such as Blade Runner 2049, The Underlying by Ami Clarke considers the implicit role of capitalism in environmental disaster.
Meanwhile, Rory Cahill and George Mackness offer a walk through a dystopian, corrupted digital landscape of the future, with an immersive soundtrack. They consider: what does a digital wasteland look like, what happens there and what is its afterlife?
Gallery 8, Upstairs
The artworks in this gallery reflect on family, identity and community. Seema Khalique travelled to Bangladesh to photograph two communities of transgender people called hijras. In this behind-the-scenes series, she questions the prejudices they face, revealing the economic hardships they endure alongside the strong network of mentorship and care they create.
Pioneering photographer, curator and writer Sunil Gupta took photographs of his neighbourhood on Walworth Road during lockdown. This work celebrates the increased relevance of our localities during the pandemic, as well as reflecting on the processes involved in created photographic images.
On three vintage TV monitors, Hussina Raja‘s short narrative films look at the subject of migration to the UK from post-Partition India, tracing the continued experiences of displacement and exploring nuanced notions of identity.
The works in the last part of the show focus on our relationship to and impact on the environment. In Agrilogistics (2022), Gerard Ortin Castellvi films in an automated greenhouse, in which the growth of tomatoes, tulips and chrysanthemums is controlled by cameras and sensors, in order to question the future of food production.
Having spent lockdown excavating her back garden, Maria Roy Deulofeu meticulously records each layer of soil like an archaeologist, collecting artefacts and ecofacts, before assembling a kiln to fire hand-thrown urns with the different layers of clay. The process is recorded in a video shown alongside the objects. Finally, a flock of parakeets cast in lead are scattered on the ground in Patrick Goddard‘s Blue Sky Thinking (2019).The parakeet exemplifies a non-native species increasingly common in London parks and hints at a mass extinction event, highlighting mankind’s role in the impending climate disaster.
See the full list of works here.
An illustrated catalogue is available to purchase from the bookshop.
Artists have generously made limited editions to coincide with the exhibition to support the Gallery’s education programme.