Given the amount of work she produced, it’s remarkable to think that Ana Mendieta lost her life so young (in 1985, aged 37). Experimenting with her body as a medium, the Cuban artist placed herself in situations that veer between the exploratory, ritualistic and disturbing. Blood features heavily. In an early video work the artist appears to sweat blood from her forehead, while in photo-documented performances, it is smeared down the gallery walls. The influence and symbolism of nature also prevails in works that show her naked body camouflaged against a tree or covered in feathers.
Mendieta’s work was the precursor to much performance and body art of the 1970s and 1980s – and it still has an influence on the art coming out of colleges today. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s a chance to come face-to-face with an artist who was not afraid to confront politically-charged issues (quite literally) head on.