Photo Essay


October 19, 2023

Ana Amado’s new work Lavadoiro is a multidisciplinary reflection on public washing places (called lavadoiros in Galician). Amado’s project uses historical and ephemeral architecture to explore the unique nature of these spaces that serve as both a symbol of women’s unpaid labor and also as an important place of community and connection.


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Clareo, Galicia, Spain, 2022. © Ana Amado.

Public washing places, commonly used across Europe from the seventeenth century until the advent of domestic washing machines, were, historically, the space of women. Known as lavadoiros in Galicia, a region located in northwest Spain, communal basins not only provided access to running water to wash the family’s laundry, but also served as an important social hub for women outside the domestic space. It was a space for work and for community and, above all, a unique space of female exclusivity, thus, a place of singular anthropological value.

Lavadoiro, a new multidisciplinary project by Galician architect and photographer Ana Amado, reflects on these spaces and its relationship to the domestic work of women throughout their lives. Created in rural Galicia, the project is an ephemeral and performative intervention made in collaboration with architects Carlos Seoane and 2023 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate David Chipperfield, and filmed by renowned Galician director Lois Patiño.

Combining built and ephemeral architecture, performance, photography, and film, Lavadoiro is a meditation of the meaning of these historical places. The work uses performance as simulacrum, drawing its narrative from both elements of the architecture of the lavadoiro itself as well as from the memories of the elderly women who used the lavadoiros.

Sheets serve as a common thread to connect the past of those women with the present. The sheets were arranged as vertical and horizontal planes, recreating their traditional placement or used to delimit areas of action. During the intervention, women interacted with the ephemeral architectural device of the sheets and with the architecture of the historical lavadoiros.

Initially, the Lavadoiro de Artes in Ribeira acted as inspiration and a starting point for the project. However, after interviewing local women, who provided testimonies and memories linked to nearby places, the intervention was extended to two other lavadoiros in the area: A Pinisqueira in Aguiño and San Tomé in Porto do Son.

Through Lavadoiro, Amado visualizes these historically unique locations where the domestic and social spheres of women merged, places emblematic of their unpaid labor but also where women shared their lives and helped each other.


In November, the short film by Lois Patiño created during the development of the Lavadoiro project will premiere at the International Film Festival Cineuropa in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. To help finance exhibiting the film in festivals around the world, Ana Amado is selling the six photographs included in this piece, which were taken during the design of the scenography. Available until October 31, 2023, each A3-sized signed photograph will have a limited run of 50 copies and will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. To purchase one or more photographs, you can contact Ana Amado at

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Women in Pinisqueira, Galicia, Spain, 2022. © Ana Amado.

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Sheets in Pinisqueira, Galicia, Spain, 2022. © Ana Amado.

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Sheet in Artes, Galicia, Spain, 2022. © Ana Amado.

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Reflected sheet, Galicia, Spain, 2022. © Ana Amado.

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San Tomé, Galicia, Spain, 2022. © Ana Amado.