Untitled, Iowa, 1981
Ana Mendieta

Photo: Roberto Ruiz | Courtesy NoguerasBlanchard, Madrid & Barcelona (detail)
Installation view: Abundant Futures. Works from the TBA21 Collection, Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía C3A, Córdoba, Spain, 2022

Photo: Roberto Ruiz

Silver gelatine print
67 x 50.5 x 3 cm (framed)

The Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta is celebrated for her earth-body works of the 1970s, sculptural interventions in the landscape that placed her body or its haunting silhouette in a symbiotic relationship with its natural surroundings. By fusing her interests in Afro-Cuban ritual and the pantheistic Santeria religion with contemporary practices such as earthworks, body art, and performance art, she maintained ties with her Cuban heritage. Her Silueta (Silhouette) series begun in 1973 used a typology of abstracted feminine forms through which she hoped to access an “omnipresent female force.” Working in the US State of Iowa, Cuba, and Mexico, Mendieta imprinted the outline of her body into the topsoil and rock, covered by a variety of materials, including flowers, tree branches, moss, gunpowder, and fire, and occasionally combined with animals’ hearts or her handprints that she branded directly into the ground. By 1978, the Siluetas gave way to drawings of female archetypes from Indigenous Taíno and Ciboney cultures and pre-Columbian mythology carved into rock, shaped from sand, or incised in clay beds. Intervening in the naturally formed limestone caves in a national park outside Havana, she meant for these sculptures to be discovered by future visitors to the park. Still, many were ultimately destroyed by erosion and the area’s changing uses. While several of these works have been rediscovered, for most viewers, these Rupestrian Sculptures from 1981, like the Siluetas before them, live on through Mendieta’s films and photographs, haunting documents of the artist’s attempts to seek out, in her words, that “one universal energy which runs through everything: from insect to man, from man to spectre, from spectre to plant, from plant to galaxy.”


Group exhibition: Abundant Futures
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba  
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 1 April 2022 - 5 March 2023
Ana Mendieta, Untitled, Iowa,  1981, silver gelatine print, 67 x 50.5 x 3 cm (framed). Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection. Photo: Roberto Ruiz | Courtesy NoguerasBlanchard, Madrid & Barcelona.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1948. Died in New York, USA, in 1985.