Spotlight on… is a WIA series turning the focus to women artists and art professionals and their work. Today we look at the work of Ana Mendieta.
Mendieta was born in Cuba in 1948 before being moved to a Catholic orphanage in the US after the Communist Revolution. She found this experience enormously traumatic and the loneliness of being the ‘exile’ and ‘otherness’ of being a woman and latino was seminal to her work. Mendieta’s worked in film, photography and sculpture and incorporates ritual, violence, sexuality, birth, death and the female body.
In much of her work, Mendieta reacted to rape and violence against women, or indigenous people and cultures. In Rape Scene, 1973, Mendieta was shocked by the brutal rape and murder of a student at her university campus. Mendieta staged a reenactment based on police information of the crime. Viewers accessed the performance in Mendieta’s apartment, by opening a door which was ajar, to find Mendieta’s naked body, tied to a table, amid smashed crockery, covered in blood depicting the aftermath of the violence.
Her images are often shocking and use the body and it’s hair and liquids in her work.
Her Silueta Series (1973-1980) traces her body in the landscape, on walls, and with fire, leaving traces of the female body which reference crime scenes, absence, violence and memory. Body Tracks (1982) involved drawing on paper using her body as the mark maker.
Mendieta’s life was tragically cut short when she ‘somehow ended up out the window’ of their 34 floor apartment, in the words of her husband, the sculptor Carl Andre, who was found not guilty of her murder in 1985.
[Images copyright The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, Galerie Lelong, New York and Alison Jacques Gallery, London].
[Featured image: Ana Mendieta: Metamorphosis, Alison Jacques Gallery, 2017. Installation view. Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London].