On Ana Mendieta
“When she lay down in the field, traced her body, got up, and set fire to that absence, was she making a prophecy? Did she see herself burn?”
Argentine award-winning novelist Mariana Enríquez offers a personal reflection on the works and mystery of the enigmatic Cuban artist Ana Mendieta, who tragically died after falling out of a window, 36 years old. Read more …
”I don’t know whether, in death, she was a silhouette. Whether her body, which fell from a 34th floor, Greenwich Village, 1985, was traced on the roof of the deli that stopped her fall, that kept her from crashing into the sidewalk. A body, Ana Mendieta’s, that was perhaps thrown out a window after a fight by her husband. Carl Andre, famous artist: he was declared innocent, or rather, he was exonerated on the basis of reasonable doubt. When Ana fell, he called the police and said: “My wife is an artist, and I’m an artist, and we had a quarrel about the fact that I was more, eh, exposed to the public than she was. And she went to the bedroom, and I went after her, and she went out the window.” That’s what he said over the phone. “My wife is an artist and I’m an artist,” Enriquez writes.
Mariana Enríquez mirrors the dramatic story of Ana Mendieta with a dark chapter of Argentinian history, describing a demonstration in the street in 1983 where a group of artists along with the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo planned to make human silhouettes that would represent the detained and disappeared victims of the Argentinian dictatorship of the 1970s and 80s.
Mariana Enríquez (b. 1973) is an Argentinean novelist, journalist, and short-story writer. Among her work is the novel ‘Como desaparecer completamente’ (2004) and the short story collections ‘Los peligros de fumar en la cama’ (2009) and ‘Things we lost in the Fire’ (2016) (Las Cosas que perdimos en el fuego, 2016), which was published to great critical acclaim. In 2021 her collection of short stories ‘The Dangers of Smoking in Bed’ (Spanish 2009, English 2021) is shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize. She lives in Buenos Aires.
Ana Mendieta (b.1948 in Havana, Cuba and d. 1985 in New York City, USA) was a performance artist, video artist, and sculptor, interested in the relationship between the female body and nature. Her works with photographs and video footage of her own body camouflaged in a natural environment, as seen in ’Untitled: Silhueta Series’, are considered some of her most compelling. Until today the circumstances around Ana Mendieta’s death remains controversial because there were no witnesses in 1985 when Mendieta fell 33 stories out of a window from her Greenwich Village apartment after a fight with her husband, minimal artist, and sculptor Carl Andre (b.1935). Read about the story here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/sep/22/ana-mendieta-artist-work-foretold-death
Ana Mendieta’s work is held in many major public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Tate Collection, London.
In the video, Mariana Enriquez reads an excerpt from a text about Ana Mendieta. The text is called ‘The Distant Memory of Fire’ and the focus of the text is ‘Untitled: Silhueta Series’, by Ana Mendieta, written for the anthology ‘Looking Writing Reading Looking – Writers on Art from the Louisiana Collection’ (2019). More information here: https://www.artbook.com/9788793659216.html
Photo documentation of the Siluetazo demonstration in 1983 used in this video is made by Eduardo Gil. Work used by Ana Mendieta © 2021 The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. / VISDA
Edited by Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by Kasper Bech Dyg and Christian Lund
Sound recordings by Pejk Malinovski
Cover photo: detail from ‘Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants)’, 1972, by Ana Mendieta.
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond
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