Often fusing her body with nature, the Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta confronted themes of feminism, violence, life, death, identity, place and belonging through a wide-ranging artistic practice. Mendieta was born in Cuba but her parents sent her to the United States at age 12, in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro overthrew the government. As she grew older, her early works, specifically those made during her time studying at the University of Iowa, employed generous amounts of blood and focused on violence toward women—likely based on firsthand experiences during her childhood. As she developed her practice, Mendieta worked with performance, sculpture, photography, painting and video. Focusing purely on her videos, the exhibition ‘Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta’ will open at Gropius Bau later this month.
The exhibition will include 23 of Mendieta’s video works, which have been restored and digitized after years of research. Many of her films were initially found posthumously by her Estate and family members for a 1987 retrospective at the New Museum in New York, but it wasn’t until the 2016 exhibition ‘Ana Mendieta: Experiential and Interactive Films’ at Galerie Lelong, New York that they received critical acclaim. (Mendieta’s death itself is a controversial topic: She died at age 37 after falling 33 storeys from her apartment building in New York. She and her husband Carl Andre had been arguing and it remains unclear whether her death was an act of suicide, an accident or murder; Andre was tried for her death and acquitted.)
Although many thematic threads can be found within Mendieta’s videos and oeuvre at-large, the natural world and abstracted female form are two recurring elements. As the artist once said: “Through my earth/body sculptures, I become one with the earth… I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body. This obsessive act of reasserting my ties with the earth is really the reactivation of primeval beliefs…[in] an omnipresent female force, the after image of being encompassing within the womb, is a manifestation of my thirst for being.”
Berlin Art Link is giving away two tickets for ‘Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta’ to one lucky reader. You can enter via our Facebook or Instagram by following us, liking the corresponding image, and tagging your friends in a comment.