Immigrant was the last project created by André Penteado in London and was conceived based on the desire to reflect on his experience as an immigrant for 7 years.
Its starting point was his research on the subject of the psychology of immigration, which led him to the concept that, to avoid the emotional pain of their relocation, immigrants always develop coping strategies. One of the most important of them involves creating a personal “bubble”, in which they could release the stress of being inside a new culture, such as: patronizing restaurants that serve their home food, shopping for home products, attending dance clubs that have nights devoted to the music from their countries, etc.
Among these, the artist found out that some groups of immigrants, especially from warm countries such as India and Pakistan, would frequently visit the green houses in Kew Gardens – the Botanical Garden of London. According to one of its managers, Nick Johnson, people from these groups say they go there because “it feels like home” to them.
The artist, being Brazilian, was able to relate to that. In the Princess of Wales Conservatory, one of the three green houses in Kew, he felt the warmth and humidity of his country and found many native plants from there, as well.
To express visually the process of immigrating, the “bubble” strategy and the transformation the immigrants will inevitably suffer, he created, in Kew Gardens, three photography series and two videos.
The first series, called Like Home, comprises views of the inside of the Princess of Wales Conservatory (PoWC). These images always show the glass ceiling of the building. The second series is called Brazilians and shows the Brazilian plants the artist was able to identify in the PoWC. These photographs were taken with a point and shoot camera with a flash, which makes their visual style similar to tourists’ photographs. The third series is called The Others and shows images of the trunks of trees living outside the greenhouse. Differently than all other works in this project, these photographs are black and white. The next work is a three-channel video called Journey, which shows images of the inside of a house in the course of a day, the view outside the window of a London Overground train that goes from East London to Kew Gardens and images of the PoWC. The last work in this project is called The Exchange and is a two-channel animation showing the flags of Brazil and the UK while they slowly exchange colours.