Ana Mendieta: The Sublime
By David Frances
In the transhistorical examination of the sublime, Mendieta’s works reorient what organizers of the exhibition have marked as many artists’ resurgent interest in landscape and environmental chaos, an interest which was on the rise once again during and since the 1960s. Born in Havana, Cuba in 1948, Ana Mendieta produced a noteworthy number of works that contributed to this movement before her tragic death, falling from her 34th floor apartment, in New York in 1985. However, among over 100 works in the Pompidou, Ana Mendieta’s photographic and filmic pieces contribute to the museum’s more contemporary definitions of sublimity. If they are representative of the sublime, her works are remarkably different and intersect with multiple understandings of muted fear in the face of our passing through time. Without resorting to intense magnification, Mendieta shows not (or not only) the framing of ruin, but the fact that our memory and our bodies might be (and are) misconstrued, misread, erased. Writing on Mendieta’s 3-minute Super-8 film, Sweating Blood (1973), Abigail Solomon-Godeau was right to attribute blood to the act of labor, but also to “giving birth, not being born” (4). Land art is, of course, the art of laboring in and framing the land, so much reminiscent, to me, of landscape poetry, where notions of race, gender, and class may also be given, made evident, and then, at times, misgiven, muted.
Read the full feature from Issue #16 CHAOS here.