Inês Neto dos Santos
This is Inês, in a coffee shop where we met for the first time, explaining me what her work consists of. Unfortunately, I can’t quote her exact words but it goes somewhere along the lines of 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 multi disciplinary artist based in London. At only 27 years old she’s 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 to finally embrace fermentation.
Her presence is calm and discreet, someone who is unmistakably introvert and kind, but you would be surprised by the amount of energy, yearning and imagination she has. 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 a common ground: food. An essential part of our lives now a vehicle for art. She began hosting her own 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 tries to harness particles of the air in each area. We joked about how would it be if she would ask a local to touch her starter (which she brought with her from London to Azores, and from Azores to Porto where we met).
I asked her about the side effects of using food and cooking as your main occupation, as a profession as to say, and the consequences of it 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 simple and comforting dishes. Her current favorite is a chickpea stew, perfect to have with a toast.