Ana Mendieta uses her body as a canvas to indulge in her art form – 71Bait

Almost three years ago, I was strolling through the University of Michigan Art Museum. The building itself is decorated in crisp, clean tones of white and beige — a perfect juxtaposition with the vibrant art on its walls. As my brain tried to break through bit by bit, my gaze couldn’t help but be drawn back by a curtained installation in the center of the vast space. I decided to break my typical method of moving clockwise around the museum and went straight to the curious installation. Inside I found a video artwork by Ana Mendieta. At the most basic level, the work was innovative and breathtaking. What I found most complex was her “Earth-Body” video performance as a totally revolutionary dedication to earth, art and the body.

The art installation titled “Creek” was created in the turbulent 1970s. Mendieta used herself as a model – similar to her other body appearances – and had a camera set up to record herself. As a sign of the times, the recording was made on color Super 8 film and was completely silent. In the video, she lies face down and naked in a shallow stream as the water runs over her. On the one hand there is water and mud. On the other side there is a living plant life that seems to connect the scenery with the earth. Inside the green is a single red flower that towers almost directly over Mendieta’s body. Despite the silence, it is impossible not to hear the sound of the water moving in the creek, the wind pushing through delicate plants and the water waves made by the body. As the video’s final artistic touch, the water has a sparkle of sunbeams that combine with the natural grain of the film to create a soft, ethereal aura.


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