In her 36 years, Ana Mendieta created deeply powerful and provocative work that touched on nature, violence toward women, displacement, and identity. But despite her important contributions to the art world, Mendieta has remained undervalued, with her untimely and tragic death overshadowing her art. On September 8, 1985, Mendieta plunged 24 floors to her death. Her husband, Carl Andre, was accused of killing her, but was acquitted because of a lack of evidence. In recent years, however, many have pushed for the acknowledgment of Mendieta – the latest of which is The Wing’s No Man’s Land podcast – and her work. The series highlights women who played by their own rules, who history has forgotten, or whose stories need to be retold. This week’s episode breaks down why Ana Mendieta was a pioneer.
In this week’s episode, Alexis Coe walks us through Mendieta’s journey to the United States and her work as a visual artist. She interviews Raquel Mendieta, Ana’s niece, and others familiar with her work to ensure that we get the fullest picture of who Ana was as a person and an artist. “We were renegades, marginalized in the culture” said Carolee Schneemann, a visual artist who was friends with Ana. “It was a time when the culture said to young women artists, ‘You can do anything you want, but it won’t matter.’”
At this time, the art world sidelined women, and their bodies were mostly represented in art through the male gaze. “And so using the body was such a conflicted terrain because it was supposed to be to arouse men. And of course, as soon as you took your underwear off that must be ’cause it’s gonna give guys a hard-on, and then it didn’t, and they were very angry about that.”
While the podcast also touches on Carl Andre – who is a part of her story – it makes sure to center who she was and what she accomplished in her short life. Check out the episode here and learn about Mendieta’s legacy.