FIRE, EARTH, AND BODY: ANA MENDIETA

GONZALO DE PEDRO AMATRIA

The history of film should incorporate in its accounts other artistic expressions that have approached moving images from assumptions quite different than cinema alone. Cuban artist Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) is a clear example of the omissions caused by narrow definitions. Widely recognized in the art world, her work in Super 8 and video –which makes up the bulk of her filmography– remains unjustly buried to a large part of the international film community, despite its emotional charge, its expressive power, its political commitment and its undoubted beauty.

Mendieta was born in Havana in 1948 and died in New York in 1985, under strange circumstances, while rushing from the window of her apartment after an argument with her partner, the artist Carl Andre. She boasts a short but extremely prolific career in photography, performance, drawing, and sculpture, as well as videos and films. She was one of the first artists to work explicitly on political identity and feminism, using her own body as a battleground. Her work around the body and the figure and representation of women has its roots in a purely political and feminist claim: Mendieta worked in an environment dominated by men, the world of art in the 80s, in the United States. Her performance-films use her own body as a container and receiver of stigmas, readings, prejudices, other people’s writings; the almost tragic way of subjecting her body to violence is related to a questioning of the traditional role of women.

The selection we have the honor to exhibit here in Valdivia has been made in collaboration with The Estate of the Ana Mendieta Collection and the Galerie Lelong, responsible for the preservation of her legacy, which includes more than 100 audiovisual works made over a period of 10 years. Her works have been presented in spaces such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg in Austria and the Wavelenghts section of the Toronto Festival.