The significance of the work of Ana Mendieta and, above all, the topicality with which it is inserted into our cultural scenarios explains the insistence of Katherine E. Nash Gallery, at the University of Minnesota, in the review and display of the work by the recognized Cuban-American artist. Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta is the sample that from September 15 to December 12 will be presented in that center. The exhibition will include a series of 21 films, 26 photographs of the artist and the short documentary Ana Mendieta: Dentro de la naturaleza. [i]
The keys for understanding the work of Mendieta are raised from the title of the exhibition, though certainly the construction of this is due, first, to the statement made by the artist herself about an early work. However, it is clear the allusion to history and time as essential components not only as Mendieta’s speech focused on the origin, to the past, to individual and collective memory, but time and historical building are also assumed here as cardinal patterns in the articulation of the proposed cinematic narrative.
But in Covered in Time… we may appreciate another notion of the artist about ‘taboo’ topics, some obscure, veiled by the hermetic religion which enables a greater level of depth in the reading of many pieces of Mendieta (even in her own life): that one conducive to the dimension of the hidden, covered. The Yoruba inquiry or other rituals of indigenous cultures proves it. Yet Mendieta goes beyond as she not only uses her body as a vehicle for connection with her origins in an anthropological will, but several times, since the treatment of her body, such practices became site, place for reflection on concepts and issues such as death, violence, imposition. So the idea of sacrifice, aggression, remains the same when pretending to be raped as when holding an animal bleeding on her bare skin, actions in which the active involvement of the viewer and her behavior supposed the perfect medium to denounce the existence of a facade that civilized man has built to hide his “basic instincts”.
In short, there are a lot of approaches to get closer to the work of this Cuban artist in addition to discussions her work generates. That is the intention of the Katherine E. Nash once it proposed a set of parallel activities to this exhibition addressing issues such as the historical, political and cultural changes influencing on the development of individual social identities of immigrants in the United States and the confrontation of social inequalities by women artists. Mendieta’s work is, then, a very wise choice of Katherine E. Nash to inquire through the visual arts in our human essence.