Environments: Film Works by Ana Mendieta

Wed, Aug 15, 2018
  • 7PM
MEMBERS: $7.50 (free for Level 4 and above)
+  Q&A with Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, Associate Administrator, The Ana Mendieta Estate
August 2018
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Wednesday August 15, 2018
Performances no longer available.

Writ in earth, fire, feathers, sand, and her own body, the haunting films of singular Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta are fearless inquiries into gender and identity; history and memory; exile and belonging; and the tension between the interior self and the external world. Shot through with ritual, mysticism, and a primeval connection to nature, these stunning, rarely screened works speak to what it means to be a woman, a displaced person, and a human being.

Q&A with Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, Associate Administrator, The Ana Mendieta Estate

Burial Pyramid

1974, 3min


Mendieta performed this work on a rocky hillside in Yágul, Mexico, by burying herself adjacent to the stone steps of an ancient pyramidal tomb. Submerged within the landscape, the artist allows her figure to gradually reveal itself as her breath becomes increasingly pronounced.

Ocean Bird (Washup)

1974, 4min


Capturing the artist from a variety of angles, this work documents Mendieta as she floats among the waves. Appearing in the same white feathers she donned for her contemporaneous film Bird Run, the artist evokes the appearance of a bird-like creature, further utilizing themes that appear in her other film and performance works.


1981, 2min


This brief film focuses on the outline of a figure Mendieta carved into the shoreline in Guanabo, a beach town in the artist’s home country of Cuba. Derived from Mendieta’s interest in indigenous Caribbean religion, and themes of exile and return, the shape of the female figure would become a common motif in Mendieta’s work by the early 1980s.

Esculturas Rupestres (Rupestrian Sculptures)

1981, 9min


Mendieta recorded her suite of Ecsculturas Rupestres (rock etchings)—a body of work known to many through the photographs she also created of these sculptures—in a remote location in her native Cuba. Named for goddesses of the indigenous Taino culture, Mendieta etched these drawings into a cave, a fact which emphasizes the importance of documentation in grasping the full scope of her practice.

Birth (Gunpowder Works)

1981, 3min


One of Mendieta’s numerous works to utilize gunpowder as an ignition device, Birth features a female silhouette sculpted from wet mud as it sparks and burns out amid the landscape.

Silueta Series

1979, 3min


Mendieta creates an abstracted figural shape among the landscape. Utilizing materials such as hay and combustible fireworks, she ignites the recessed earth along its vertical axis, revealing an explosive burst of materials that resemble spilled entrails.

Anima: Silueta de Cohetes

1976, 3min


Filmed during a visit to Oaxaca, Mexico, Mendieta commissioned a local fireworks-maker to create a freestanding castillo (castle) bound with red, orange, and white fireworks. Shaped in the image of her own silhouette—a motif that would become increasingly frequent in her earth-body works—Mendieta filmed the exploding fireworks as they popped, flickered, and eventually burned out, creating a billow of smoke.

Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Firework Piece), 1976
Still from super-8mm film transferred to high-definition digital media, color, silent Running time: 2:23 minutes
© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC
Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co.

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