video still "Body Tracks"
Ana Mendieta was a cuban-born performance artist, sculptor, video artist and painter who immigrated to the US when she was only 12 in order to escape Castro's regime. Mendieta struggled with issues of place and belonging and her work delt with these issues as well as themes of feminism, gender, violence, life and death.
Mendieta lived to be only 37. In September of 1985, Mendieta died from a fall from her 34th floor Greenwich Village apartment in New York, after an argument with her husband of only eight months, minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. Andre was tried and acquitted of second-degree murder, although close friends of Mendieta, like the American visual artist Carolee Schneeman, argued Mendieta's death was not suicide.
Two of Mendieta's most iconinc series are her Silueta Series and her Body Tracks Series.
In the Silueta Series, Mendieta placed her nude body into a natural scene, painted her body to mimic the natural scene and placed herself there, left an ephemeral silhouette of her body in the earth, or sculpted/drew the image of a female form into nature, which would wear away with time.
Untitled (Grass on Woman)
Tree of Life Series
Untitled drawing in sand
Silueta Series in Mexico
One of her most powerful pieces is from her early performance career while she was attending the University of Iowa. There was a woman who was raped and murdered on the Iowa campus and Mendieta responded with protest to the way the school's administration chose to handle the situation (hush, hush and hopefully it will go away) by staging an image of what the scene might look like.
Unititled (Rape Scene)
Friends and fellow students were invited to her apartment. Upon arriving they found Mendieta stretched across a table and tied up, half nude and covered in blood. In this way Mendieta was attempting to "name" rape, to create an image of it and to avoid allowing rape to be overlooked.
The use of blood in Mendieta's work is very important and linked to her childhood development in Cuba, where she was raised under the religion of Santeria, which commonly employs rituals of animal sacrifice, exposing Mendieta to the power of blood from an early age.
Body Tracks Series
stretched out and tied up - her almost-nude body smeared in blo
I was at the Art Institute of Chicago last night and currently on display are a nice collection of photographs and drawings from the Silueta Series, as well as one Silueta Series video and one Body Tracks video until January 15th, 2012. Diane and Bruce Hall currently own these works and will be handing the work off to the Art Institute in the future, making this the largest collection of Mendieta's work to be owned by any one museum. THANK YOU! Very exciting that Mendieta's work will be so close. I look forward to going back and seeing it again and again.