Not Oprah’s Book Club: Unseen Mendieta

Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) was a groundbreaking, Cuban-American visual artist who tackled issues of body image, identity politics, and gender with unparalleled ingenuity and immediacy. The new book, out on Prestel, of her too short-lived career is totally riveting–from the tracks made by the artist dragging her blood-covered arms down a wall to the pigment-filled void of her silhouette pressed into a sandy beach. The images speak for themselves:

For an “oh scary f-word” review of Mendiata’s work, check out this Washington Post piece from awhile back. Despite being generally disappointing, I did think these lines were fascinating:

Mendieta wants to assert the possibility of a female presence in the world, but that means also insisting that the “feminine” can include the kind of macho, ego-boosting gesture that has been the preserve of male artists. If there’s no choice but to spell it out in old symbolic archetypes — and that is just how art has almost always spelled things out — the vagina has to be allowed to have its phallic side.

Bottom line: check out Mendieta’s work if you haven’t. It’s got all sorts of room for interpretation and transformation.

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