Map Series is a performance in which writer and visual artist Ana Mendes considers her identity as a Portuguese citizen facing a post-colonial context. In this performance-installation, Mendes stitches old paper maps of the former colonies of certain empires – i.e. the UK, Portugal, France, Germany, Russia – sitting on a chair at a table with a sewing machine. Colonialism here becomes an automatic machine that appropriates more and more land mechanically.
The dramaturgy of the performance follows the line of historical events. The stitching of the sewing machine begins at a regular pace, appearing like a person searching or wondering where to go. It then ends with the machine stitching the maps in a non-stop, furious manner until it erases the surface of the paper map, symbolically referring to the colonialist war, in which one culture overlaps the other.
After the performance, the map is displayed on the wall of the gallery/room as an installation with sound.
Mendes initiated this performance series in 2014 and has since then been developing different performances dedicated to several colonial empires – Portugal, Germany, and the UK.
Currently, she is interested in contemporary forms of colonialism because, as she explains, »after the British Empire (the biggest in history), the USA went one step further with their economical invasion, branding, marketing, etc. Thus, today we may ask ourselves what comes next? The nation of China is an increasing power and the Israel/Palestine conflict continues. Russia not only invades its neighbors, but also threatens Europe due to the latter’s dependence on the former for its natural resources. The EU colonizes its own state members and the refugees keep arriving to Europe, victims of past colonial acts … Hence, one may ask: What is an empire today? What is the criteria that fuels them: power, money, or survival? … And to what extent are invasions and colonial acts inherent to human existence?«