In societies that were colonised, you find influences of colonisation reflected in gender. In these communities, colonialism shaped a violent masculinity, which is expressed in the power men still have over women's lives (Brazilian Journal of African Studies, 2020).
Since 2023, Anna Nunes has been focusing on a new project, in which she exposes the consequences and aftermath of the colonial past in gender inequality. For research Anna travelled to São Tôme. An island located in the Gulf of Guinea, about 300 km from the African coast. São Tôme was colonized by the Portuguese in 1493 and the Dutch played a major role in the island's colonisation and slave trade. By focusing on São Tôme, Anna wants to address a more expansive picture of Dutch colonial history. Not just the painful influences in Suriname, the Dutch Caribbean and Indonesia, but also in all the other areas we rarely hear about, but the Dutch possessed power over.
While not often heard, gender inequality as a result of colonisation is a pertinent theme, especially now that colonial history, the position of women and the discrimination in gender identities are in focus.
In São Tôme, Anna resided with organisations working against the deprived position of Santomean women. She assisted in their operations and gained insight into the everyday implications of the colonial past in the reality of women. Back in the studio, she incorporates the knowledge, insights and experiences gained into a series of drawings and paintings. Beyond the current reality, Nunes paints and draws the world she dreams of seeing. A world that is free and safe, one in which girls and women are at liberty to be themselves.
With the project, Nunes opposes gender inequality and shows the colonial wounds left behind in gender, in São Tôme as well as in other territories. For further research, Anna travels back to São Tôme in 2024.
Special thanks to SOMA, Missão DIMIX and the Fund of Cultuurparticipatie.