Monday, May 4, 2015

Ana Mendieta

   "Places are fragmentary and inward-turning histories, pasts that others are not allowed to read, accumulated times that can be unfolded but like stories held in reverse, remaining in an enigmatic state, symbolizations encysted in the pain or pleasure of the body. "I feel good here": the well-being under-expressed in the language it appears in like a fleeting glimmer is a spatial practice" (De Certeau 108).

Untitled, 1974
Photograph. 504 × 768
Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) was a Cuban-American performance artist most famous for her earth-body artworks (Silueta Series, 1973-1980). As someone who had to flee from Cuba to America as a child, her artwork deals with her feelings of exile and displacement. Other themes in her work include drawing attention to violence against women, primal beginnings of civilization, nationality, and time. Tragically, Ana Mendieta died at the age of 37 under suspicious circumstances when she fell from a 34 story window. Her husband went to trial under suspicion of her murder but was acquitted. Her death sparked feminist outrage and riots, and in the years following her death she was often considered one of the most under-appreciated and overlooked artists of her time. Ana Mendieta's death adds a poignancy to her artworks and their temporary nature. She really embodies De Certeau's ideas of the power of memory and places.

Silueta Series, Mexico), 1976
Photograph, 693x1024

I really enjoyed researching and learning about Ana Mendieta. Her artwork really resonates with me, but that might be the feminist in me. I wish she had lived longer and had had the chance to create even more work.

Also, and this is speculation thirty years later based on just a bit of research,  I think Carl Andre probably killed her.

Untitled (Body Tracks), 1974
Photographs, performance art
1024 × 494


  1. I really enjoyed your presentation! She's such an interesting artist, especially within the sphere of the feminist art movement (which I'm assuming was very white-centered for awhile). Her history is so tragic, I wonder what kind of work she would have done if she were still alive!

  2. hmmmm i like her land art a lot. art over time is really fascinating and her use of her own body with the art i think takes others' land art even further. almost as if she washes away into the ocean with that sand...

  3. The work she does with her body is often frightening, and it's no surprise she had such a strong-willed following. It's encouraging to learn that a group of people would support someone so vehemently postmortem, almost like performance art from the grave.

  4. Yes, her works is very unique and a little unsettling with some of the almost ritualistic imagery, and it is shame that her life ended so abruptly and tragically.