Monday, July 4, 2011

Letters to Dead Artists : Ana Mendieta

Dear Ana,

How have you been? I hope well. Is it okay in heaven, or whatever it is called? I hope so. Things here are okay. There are a lot of things that have changed but also a lot that has remained the same…obviously. One thing I wanted to make sure you knew about was that that whole feminist art thing didn’t really pan out the way some would have expected. I know that this was not a term that was for you the defining point for your practice but you should know that your work is very much aligned to it. I think you should be happy about that though. At least you are not made reductive by it like some of your friends. Being a feminist today does not have the allure it once had. Anyways, there are some young ladies that are making work and regardless of what they or anyone else may say about it, it does contribute to all of that.

I have been thinking of you a lot lately because I recently finished, well almost finished, watching this TV show that was on in the 1990s, on broadcast TV, called Twin Peaks. I think you would like this show, well at least the first 15 or so episodes. Anyways it was done by this now famous movie director named David Lynch, he’s very handsom, and this other guy named Frost and it is about the murder of this girl named Laura Palmer and it is set in this town called Twin Peaks, and it’s weird, surreal, violent and magic driven. In particular, there is this phrase they say a lot “Fire Walk With Me” and it’s sort of creepy but the whole violence, sex, body, spirit forces things made me think about your Silueta pieces. I mean, your pieces are way more serious and poetic, of course, but I just wanted to mention this show, in case you were bored.

Speaking of your Silueta pieces, I have to say that they are just remarkable. You must have known that when you were doing them, didn’t you? They are just like the most beautiful, tragic things a person, man or women, has done with the body. Also, you look amazing. I know that’s not the point, but I must confess you do. What was the most challenging one for you to endure? Also, the ones that you lit on fire, did you do a mental or outward ritual along with it or did you just do it? I know that people sometimes associate them more heavily with death, since you know, your own unsolved one, but I think they are more about renewal, not so much about sinking into the earth but regenerating out of and from it.

I just learned that you were raised and went to school in Iowa! I have met a bunch of people that went there, they are a nice lot, did you like it there? Oh speaking of things like that, Cuba is getting better it seems. Fidal is getting old, still Fidel but his brother is now running things mostly. The US, (oh yeah, we have a black man as president! His name is Barack Obama, crazy no?!) we have loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba so now people can see relatives a bit easier, but things are not fully open. Today, the idea of being other, of being from another country, or being female or homosexual etc, in the arts is very different then it used to be. Well, I guess not really…but it operates differently. The art world has just gotten so small and all the variances that were once used as tools or as forms of expression and translation, are now very co-opted. Everything seems so reductive and meaningless in its rhetoric of inclusion. I’m confused by it. I think you would be too. Or maybe this means things succeeded somehow. I wish I could get your opinion on that.

Everyone here misses you. There are your old friends and people who research your work that go on panels, and present your works all around the country. I know you must know that there is a cult aura about you since you died so mysteriously. I won’t get into that, it’s none of my business, but if you do want give a hint, let me know, I feel like I would recognize it when I see it. Anyways, it is just such a shame that you haven’t been around to see what has happened and to influence what is happening.

Well, I really do hope that you are safe and happy and still making art. I know we don’t know each other and this letter may be annoying to you, but I selfishly felt a need to write. Please consider any forwardness evidence of my sheer nervousness. Thank you so much for taking time to read this and I hope that in some way you can maybe write back.

Yours Sincerely,