. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

On Ana Mendieta

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | November 8, 2017

This week, we are thrilled to present a selection of experimental short films by the late Cuban-born multidisciplinary artist Ana Mendieta.

Ana Mendieta, still from Volcán, 1979. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Ana Mendieta grew up amidst the political upheaval of Castro’s regime, fleeing to the United States with her older sister Raquelin in 1961. She would later go on to forge a prolific career creating groundbreaking work which spanned across multiple mediums. Mendieta’s radical practice included photography, performance, drawing, sculpture, site-specific installations, and hundreds of recently highlighted short films.

Haunting yet powerful in their silence, Mendieta’s films address themes of violence, transformation, resilience, and collective passivity. A majority of the films presented in this week’s screening were shot using celluloid film, allowing Mendieta to physically manipulate the medium to create ethereal effects. Through both the presence and absence of the body, the films confront the viewer with the visceral corporeality of her performances and actions.

Ana Mendieta, still from Butterfly, 1975. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

In the following excerpt, Sheila Dickinson discusses Mendieta’s films as presented in the 2015 exhibition Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery (University of Minnesota, Regis Center for Art).

Ana Mendieta Comes Alive in Her Films

Sheila Dickinson

MINNEAPOLIS — The more time I spent in the galleries of Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta, the more I felt the lived presence of the artist herself. Unlike the bright white cube of a typical gallery, here the viewer is invited to walk through a filmy white curtain and enter a darkened, sanctified space. The artist appears only occasionally in her films, but she haunts them with her body forms found in earth, fire, blood, and water. Projected directly onto the walls of the gallery, up to three per wall, the films interact and converse with each other as they begin and end asynchronously. A hushed silence permeates the darkness as Mendieta, or her body form, shape shifts upon the walls. The films are an activating presence, bringing to the viewer an aliveness that cannot be found in her still photography. Much of that photography, and her films, has until now been understood as documentation; this exhibition demonstrates that Mendieta thought and created through films as much as through the performances and sculptures shown in them.

Read the full article here.

Ana Mendieta, still from Energy Charge, 1975. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.