Hayward Gallery, London
This autumn Hayward Gallery presents Ana Mendieta: Traces, the UK’s first retrospective of one of the most significant yet under-acknowledged artists of the late 20th century. In addition to films, sculptures, photographs, drawings, personal writings and notebooks, an extensive research room with hundreds of photographic slides provides unique access to works Ana Mendieta could never show during her short life.
The exhibition at Hayward Gallery, the first in a UK public institution solely devoted to the artist, shows the full breadth of Ana Mendieta's work. Mendieta was part of a generation of innovative artists whose work no longer fitted the conventions of exhibition making and collecting art. Covering her entire career, and revealing different facets of her unique practice, this timely exhibition positions Mendieta as an influential figure from art history, reveals the creative mind of the artist, and conveys the legacy of her work as well as its relevance for artists today.
One of the focal points of the exhibition is the re-construction of solo exhibitions from the artist’s lifetime, which includes her main body of works, Siluetas. The extensive and fascinating archive material sheds new light on the way the artist worked and documented her own artistic practice. Featuring super-8 films, photographs, slides, drawings, prints, objects and sculptures, Ana Mendieta: Traces does not only follow a chronology, but looks at the artist’s entire oeuvre through the lens of her own time, bringing it afresh to the beginning of the 21st century. The exhibition focuses both on the incredible power of the artist’s imagery as well as her critical potential and importance for feminism and land art.
Mendieta’s short career was prolific and began with an accomplished and influential body of work created as a graduate student at the University of Iowa. As a student, Mendieta became interested in the relationship between performative rituals and sculpture, and important motifs for her life-long practice emerged during these years, including the use of blood, feathers, fire, earth, and the body. Her fragile yet powerful works speak of the desire to connect with the earth and to explore a mythical relationship with nature. Mendieta’s works are rooted in cathartic exercises, relieving the pain of the trauma of an early exile. Mendieta also began to draw upon and recreate rituals particularly resonant with Afro-Cuban and Catholic traditions, and goddess archetypes.
Since her death in 1985 Mendieta’s work has been shown in major institutions including Castello di Rivoli in Turin; the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C.; the Whitney Museum, New York; and the Tapiés Foundation in Barcelona; among others, but never extensively in the UK.
The Hayward exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring a lead essay by the curator as well as an anthology of writings on aspects of Mendieta’s life and artistic practice.
Following the Hayward Gallery showing, Ana Mendieta: Traces will tour to Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria: 29 March – 6 July 2014
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Curator, Hayward Gallery.
Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.