‘I have been carrying out a dialogue between the landscape and the female body (based on my own silhouette).

I believe this has been a direct result of my having been torn from my homeland (Cuba) during my adolescence. I am overwhelmed by the feeling of having been cast from the womb (nature).’ Quoted in del Rio and Perreault’s 1988 catalogue to ‘Ana Mendieta: A Retrospective’, the artist describes the ‘earth body’ works that have come to define her career. Born to politically prominent parents in Cuba in 1948, Mendieta was forced out of the country in 1961 after the collapse of her father’s alliance with Castro’s factions. She was sent to live in the US as part of a controversial CIA project codenamed Operation Peter Pan, and would spend the rest of her life in America until her tragic death in 1985, aged only 36. These two untitled works are part of Mendieta’s ‘Silueta’ (silhouette) series, a group of over a hundred works created in Mexico and Iowa between 1973 and 1980. She would create her outline in the landscape using natural materials including blood, earth and stones, as well as fire, gunpowder and candles. The work itself, the outline of the artist’s figure on the landscape, would only exist briefly: Mendieta would destroy them after, or even during, documenting them with a photograph or film. The first untitled work, a 1980 film, records Mendieta igniting a silhouette created in gunpowder; the second is a unique vintage print documenting a ‘silueta’ in Oaxaca, Mexico. Mendieta’s reputation has grown in the UK following the Hayward Gallery’s 2013 exhibition ‘Traces’, the first retrospective of her work in the UK. The two works acquired by mima will be displayed as part of the museum’s collection of contemporary drawing.


Ana Mendieta estate.

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