Artist Blog: Ana Mendes on Dance Play

Dance Play:

From Ana Mendes

To Mahnaz Banaie

Dance Play is a work initiated at the 18th International Residency Studio Program City of Weimar/ACC Gallery, which I attended in 2012, in Germany.

When I embarked in this adventure to Germany, I intended to work on a performance in a church… but something happened when I arrived there. Weimar isn’t at all a performance city. The whole mood of the city is more into the contemporary visual arts scene or exactly the opposite… Thus, I decided to change my project. I enrolled in an Integration Course for immigrants who want to apply for a visa residency permit to live in the country, and started to learn German with them. Five days per week, five hours per day, I was trapped in a room, studying with them, which changed completely my residency – making the course became the main goal of it, instead of developing artworks. So, I decided to invite the immigrants to work with me.

The work is called ‘This is My God’, and it is a series of photographic portraits and videos in which I invited the immigrants to come to my studio and to bring an object that meant God for them in abstract terms. Using that object, I developed the works.


It was extremely difficult to develop the works with them, for many reasons, although those photographs are the ones I most love from the whole collection. .. Nevertheless, I could not work with the girl that I wished more.

Her name is Mahnaz Banaie, and she came from Afghanistan to Germany as an asylum-seeker. She was only 17 years old when I met her, but she already had a two-years old daughter. She was super clever, open-minded, adventurous, inspiring… and willing to work with me as well. But, her husband did not allow her. She could not be photographed. Therefore, I could not make the portrait. Instead, I decided to develop the performance Dance Play, which is partially inspired by her life.


I thought that one day, if she would get to know this, it would give her some hope…. Sadly enough, I had the chance of performing this play in many cities in Europe, it even won a prize, but… she does not know anything about this… because she does not have a mobile phone or an email, only her husband has… I emailed them twice, very politely and welcoming … but no answered was received back… So, here we go, for a new show, but Mahnaz is nowhere to ne seen or heard of…

Dance Play

Saturday 23rd November

The Parlour Showrooms


as part of a double bill with Matilda and Me by Ria Hartley


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