Lightbox: Ana Mendieta — Body Tracks (Rastros Corporales): Blood Sign #2 (1974) and Silueta Series: Untitled, Iowa (1973-1977)

Rochelle Hurt

filmed/photographed performances

[let’s get death out of the way. at thirty-six she fell thirty-three stories and landed on a deli roof. the dust flew up in silhouette around her. there: it’s gone. now watch as she stands with her arms in a Y as if catching something from the sky and then presses her palms to a paper wall. at first, you cannot see the blood between. Santeria music plays behind the screen. when her legs bend and she begins to slip, it is not like falling. this i tell myself again and again. when her arms peel away, two bloody strokes mark their place. but time does not sever trauma from a body, and a painting of a woman in motion is not really a painting. on film the strokes are tracks that move in one direction only.

look at her husband standing up there in her apartment with a phone to his ear: we had a quarrel about the fact that I was more, eh, exposed to the public than she was. now he’s eighty-five and acquitted. you didn’t think we could put it away completely did you? i have been called angry so many times. i can’t remember if it started before or after i got tits. in high school it was a game of catch boys played with me: why you mad? my reaction tossed the ball back. later: you’re one of those angry girls, aren’t you? in life drawing class, i leaned on my pencil until it broke through the paper. heavy-handed. graphite thorns gathered beneath my chair. so much rage in your work — at whom?

in her Siluetas, Mendieta stamped her body on the earth and then let it slip away. my favorite is a field of high grass with an oblong shape flattened around a mound of yellow wildflowers. out of context, you might not know the role the body plays. but out of context is a meaningless phrase. she considered herself cast from the womb of Cuba, then pressed and dug from Iowa foster homes. at first i saw these two performances as opposites: one of presence and one of absence. this is a common mistake — to think the bodies we cannot see have left no trace.]

Ana Mendieta — Body Tracks (Rastros Corporales): Blood Sign #2 (1974)

Ana Mendieta — Silueta Series: Untitled, Iowa (1973-1977)


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