INÊS NETO DOS SANTOS
This is a portrait of Inês, in the coffee shop where we met for the first time, explaining to me what her work consists of. Unfortunately, I can’t quote her exact words, but the idea is clear: sharing a message through food, and using fermentation as a metaphor for life’s cycle; we take something from the soil, we subject it to time and living organisms, we ingest it and give it back to the soil. The process, in its entirety, is totally dependent on the Earth and its life.
She’s a multidisciplinary artist based in London. At only 27 years old she holds a BA in Design and a Masters in Visual Communication from the RCA. As soon as she finished college, she began waitressing at E5 Bakehouse and then pushed her way into the kitchen. Two years later, she moved to Little Duck Picklery where her culinary world expanded, embracing fermentation.
Her presence is calm and discreet, someone who is unmistakably introvert and kind, but once she starts talking about her interests, she exudes energy, yearning and imagination. During her Masters, she realized she wanted to use her performance and installation pieces as a way to get people closer and involved in her practice, and she quickly realized that the way to do this is to find common ground: food. An essential part of our lives now a vehicle for art. She began hosting supper clubs, by the name of Mesa (a Portuguese word for table), where she collaborated with artists from London to build an event in which her food pieces would be adapted to the theme of the artists’ artworks.
Inês believes in the emotions and memories attached to food, and she tries to materialize these through the fermentation process. In each fermenting vessel, she seeks to harness particles of the air from each geographical area. We joked about how it would be if she would ask a local to touch her starter (which she brought with her from London to the Azores, and from the Azores to Porto where we met).
I asked her about the side effects of using food and cooking as your primary occupation, and the consequences of this in her daily food regimen. Luckily, her boyfriend takes over the home kitchen, leaving her to rest or work in her projects. But when “Saudade” kicks in, she cooks comforting and straightforward dishes. Her current favorite is a chickpea stew, perfect to have with a toast.
You can see more of Inês’ work on her website.