A performance ritual to honor the life, work, and spirit of Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta (Nov 18, 1948 – Sept 8, 1985)

We come for you

by Amara Tabor-Smith
(inspired by the poem Compañera by Jayne Cortez and In Homage to Ana Mendieta by Betsy Damon)


We Cannot forget this death.We cannot continue a culture of exile and forgetting while a conjure daughter spins in twilight. Her memory stuck on museum walls, earth, banned from entry, cannot reclaim her

We cannot condone a culture of art where drunk painters crash pleading women into trees,  where a poet shoots his wife in the head in a game of William Tell and sells more books than ever.

We cannot forget this loss of our Compañera, a great artist that the minimalist called, his tropicanita. .  Then claimed she “Somehow went out the window” and he then wins a show at the Guggenheim.

Compañera, we come for you, Singing the mourner’s song, Singing you home, We will breathe in the dust of centuries of lying white men

…and cough up the truth.

Program Notes


The ritual which you will participate in tonight has changed me, has transformed my collaborators and taken us all on a challenging journey none of us could have imagined. A year and a half ago, I was embarking on the creation of a completely different work. That was before I encountered the powerful spirit of Ana Mendieta. This piece is a ritual of remembering, a nonlinear journey into the dark realm of the dead. Not the darkness of a society that socializes us in the binary of “light is good” and “dark is bad”, but darkness as the realm of the feminine.
The dark space of the womb, and the moonless night sky.
The dark space of the womb that loses its creation/daughter into the world, then receives her back into the mother’s soil. A journey to the place of impermanence, disappearance, longing and the necessary grieving for what we lose, what we can no longer see or touch yet continued to feel in our bones, our blood and our often fleeting memory. This is the realm from which Ana Mendieta lived, made art and ultimately died. This piece is a ritual offering to the spirit of Ana Mendieta—an effort to recall fragments of her life and work in order to affirm the elevation of her spirit who work among us from the realm of the unseen.  The border between art and ritual, life and death, is blurred in this piece, in order to reify, affirm and celebrate the presence of this enormous spirit. Ana Mendieta is everywhere.


Other Media:


Amara Tabor-Smith
Ana Mendieta, Laura “Larry” Arrington, José Esteban Muñoz, Amara Tabor-Smith
Laura “Larry” Arrington, Zoe Klein, Xandra Ibarra, Amara Tabor-Smith
Audience Performers:
Pippa Fleming, Amelia Uzategui Bonilla and others
Dohee Lee
Jackeline Rago and special guest musicians:
Costume and Set Design:
Dana Kawano
Lighting Design:
José Maria Francos
Video Design: 
Eric Koziol
Production/Stage Manager:
Chijundu “Chichi” Okonmah
Additional video credits: 
”Body Tracks” and “Gunpowder works” video by Ana Mendieta Courtesy Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection L.L.C and Galerie Lelong. Footprint imagery courtesy of Dianna Frid
Spiritual support team: Yvette Aldama, Tobe Correal, Rhea St. Julien
Lobby Art: Eric Koziol (video) Dove footage courtesy of Flight Artists Project Willem Hoebink & Xander van der Sar, Wageningen University, the Netherlands ( Dana Kawano (wall art and sculptures)
Support for EarthBodyHOME
Funders: The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The Zellerbach Family Foundation, Artistry Matters SF
Individual Donors: Katherine Kodama, Nina Berg, Betty Pazmino, Debra Skaggs, Rosa Williams, Lisa Spiegel, Charles Agosta, Elaine Gormsen, Elizabeth Soberanes, Olivia Brown, Eyla Moore,Lisa Viera, Rebecca and Joe Steinberg, and many individuals from the beautiful Rhythm and Motion Community.
The creation of EarthBodyHOME is made possible in part by The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The Zellerbach Family Foundation, and Dancer’s Group Lighting Artists in Dance Fund.
As an ODC Theater commission, the presentation of EarthBodyHOME is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Special thanks to: We first give thanks to our individual and collective ancestors who carry us forward and have guided this process. May you always have light. Ase.
And to the spirit of Ana Mendieta, and the pantheon of goddesses whom you called forth in your art works. We bow down to you, and raise you up as you have raised each and every one of us. Adupue. Ase.
Thank you to: Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, Lisa Moresco, Ellen Sebastian Chang, Pablo Campoamor, Elizabeth Soberanes, Guillermo Cespedes, Isabel Yrigoyen, Nereyda García Ferraz, Maria Lino, Olga Viso, Adrian Heathfield, Genevieve Hyacinthe, Sammay Dizon,   José Navarrete, Marie Tollon, Kate Mattingly, Márcia Treidler, ABADÁ Capoeira SF, Ben Stokes & Chris O’dowd @ Space 1970, Mark Pistel @ The Room and Ernesto Sopprani

Artists Bios:

Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) was born in Havana, Cuba in 1948 and died in New York City in 1985. In a brief yet prolific career, Ana Mendieta created groundbreaking work in photography, performance, film, drawing, sculpture, mixed media, and site-specific installations. Mendieta is a pioneer among those artists dealing with identity politics and feminism. Her unique hybrid of form and documentation, works that she titled “siluetas,” are fugitive and potent traces of the artist’s inscription of her body in the landscape, transformed by fire, water and natural materials. Ana Mendieta’s work has been the subject of six major museum retrospectives, the most recent of which— Ana Mendieta: Traces—was organized by the Hayward Gallery in London in 2013 and travelled to the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg and the Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague. Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972–1985 was organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2005 and traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Des Moines Art Center and the Miami Art Museum. The largest collection of Ana Mendieta’s films ever presented as a full-scale gallery exhibition in the United States will be on view at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis this fall. Her works are found in over 30 public collections worldwide, including the Solomon
[1] Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Musee d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Tate Gallery, London; Verbund Collection, Vienna; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Amara Tabor-Smith (Choreographer/Performer) is a San Francisco native and Oakland resident whose work can best be described as Afro Futurist Conjure art. She is the Artistic Director of Deep Waters Dance Theater and co artistic director of Headmistress, an ongoing performing collaboration with movement artist Sherwood Chen. Her work has been performed in theaters such as CounterPULSE (SF), Yerba Buena Center For The Arts (SF), Judson Church (NY), Dance Mission Theater (SF), and many theaters throughout the US and internationally. She is the former associate artistic director and dancer with Urban Bush Women and she has performed in the works of theater and dance artists such as, Anna Deveare Smith, Ed Mock, Joanna Haigood, Pearl Ubungen, Ronald K. Brown, Faustin Linyekula, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Amara is currently on faculty in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. Residencies and awards include, The Headlands Center for the Arts artist in residence, CHIME Mentorship Exchange grant, CounterPULSE artist in residence, Espaço Xisto in Salvador, Bahia, Green Choreographers exchange at Dance Exchange, DC and was recently an artist in residence at ODC Theater (2013-2015). She is currently finishing her MFA in dance through Hollins University in Virginia and The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts in Germany.
Zoë Klein (Performer) is an international performer, teacher, acrobat, aerialist, production manager, and light designer from Brooklyn, NY.   Zoë has toured   28 countries over 6 continents striving to inspire audiences through seemingly impossible athletic movement and personal expression. Ten years co-directing Paradizo Dance brought: NBA NY Knicks halftime shows, International Salsa Congresses, 1st place titles in national cabaret competitions, So You Think You Can Dance, and Top Semi-Finals on America’s Got Talent. Zoë is a Circus Center SF professional acrobatics training program graduate of Master Lu Yi and has performed for Circus Bella, SweetCan, and Bindlestiff Family Circus. She dances for Epiphany Dance Productions, Ramon Alayo Dance Co., and Zaccho Dance Theater and is the Producing Director at CounterPulse. Zoë is honored to be on this shared journey performing EarthBodyHOME with Amara Tabor-Smith.
Laura Larry Arrington (Performer) is a dance-artist working in hybrids of idea and practice. Her work in dance (time/space/body/whole) pivots around a desire to orient towards the capacities in us all that can glimpse unseen and unutterable horizons. Her body is her life and her life is her work.
Xandra Ibarra (Performer) is a queer Oakland-based visual and performance artist from the El Paso/Juarez border that uses hyper-representations of raciality/sexuality/ gender as a mode of inquiry into her relationship with Mexicanidad. Working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums, she uses video, objects, and photography to evoke comedic and melancholic experiences of race   and sexuality. Through her work, Ibarra reveals the vexed nature of these fixed representations by rending them transparent to the spectator through parody; what she calls “spictacles.” Ibarra’s work has been featured at Popa Gallery (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Bogota, Columbia), Museo Tamayo (Mexico City, Mexico), Joe’s Pub (NYC), PPOW Gallery (NYC), Asian Art Museum (SF) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF) among other galleries and venues.
Eric Koziol (Video Designer) is a media artist and digital filmmaker who works at the intersection of documentary storytelling, technology, and the performing arts. As a staff video director at Stanford University he profiles visionaries in industrial and architectural design, neuroscience, virtual reality, and robotics. Eric’s artistic practice is centered on collaborations with dancers, choreographers, and musicians creating dance films and video environments for live performance. Koziol was a founding member of H-Gun Labs (1989-2001) a seminal multi-media design studio whose work is best known for music videos for artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Sound Garden, and Diamanda Galas.
José María Francos (Lighting Designer) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1951. He studied visual arts at the Manuel Belgrano National School of the Arts   and Dance at the Buenos Aires Conservatory. He relocated to the United States in 1978, escaping a wave of state terror against workers, intellectuals and artists. After arriving in New York, he taught movement for actors at The Dramatic Workshop and discovered a particular interest for theatrical design. In 1980 Francos moved to the Bay Area and studied lighting and set design at Laney College in Oakland. He began working as a designer and founded The Bay Area Dance Series, which he directed for almost ten years and for which he won an Izzie for “Sustained Acheivement.” Francos has designed for opera, ballet and theater. The companies and artists he has collaborated with include Oakland Opera, Oakland Ballet, The Wall Flower Order, June Watanabe, Ellen Bromberg Ensemble, Joanna Haigood’s Zaccho Dance Theater, Robert Moses KIN, Dohee Lee Performance Projects, Amara Tabor Smith and Navarrete+Kajiyama Dance Theater. He has also worked as Company Manager for both Zaccho Dance Theater and June Watanabe in Company, as well as a consultant to many other performance groups. In 2001, Francos became the Production Manager and then the Technical Director for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Jackeline Rago (Composer/Musician) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer and educator who specialize in Venezuelan folk music and also music   from other Latin American and Caribbean countries. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Rago is an accomplished string instrument player, percussionist and vocalist. She holds       a BA in music majoring in classical mandolin from Music and Arts Institute, San Francisco California. In addition, Jackeline has studied Afro-Venezuelan percussion for over 15 years with master percussionists at the Venezuelan Folklore Institute “Fundaci6n Bigott” in Venezuela. In 2012, Rago became an Orff certified teacher from the San Francisco School/Dominican College Orff Course in California, USA. She is the musical director of two Bay Area bands, the “Venezuelan Music Project” (Folk-Venezuelan Music) and the “VNote Ensemble” (Fusion of Venezuelan music and Jazz). Rago also is the director of the music program at EBI (Escuela Bilingue Internacion) in Oakland CA, as well as a California Jazz Conservatory faculty member and a Venezuelan music workshop leader and performer nationally and internationally (Venezuela, USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Spain, Thailand, Barbados, Brasil, St Croix). Jackeline’s work experience, awards, recordings, photos and additional information can be access at:
Dana Kawano (Set and Costume Designer) A tech veteran turned artist, Dana Kawano is a costume designer and visual artist with an eye for integrating textiles, digital imagery and tactile objects. Her costumes span a range from conventional   to elaborate wearable art installations. Kawano works with choreographers from conceptual development to artist adornment achieving a strong cohesive blend of ‘the visual’ with the interpreted messaging through dance. Versed in a multitude   of art mediums, while fearless and a preference for unorthodox approaches, she layers undertones of spiritual, ethnic and social context reference materials creating costumes that are brought to life by the performing artists. Representative works include: Our Daily Bread – Deep Waters Dance Theater, Project Nunway – Rashad Pridgen, ShapeShifter Video shoot – Zakiya Harris, Adult – Laura Arrington, Body Politics – Amara Tabor Smith, Walking Distance – Amara Tabor Smith.
Dohee Lee (Co-director/Co-madre) Born on Jeju Island in South Korea. Dohee Lee learned Korean dance, Korean percussion, and vocals rooted in Shamanism.
Her art now focuses on integrating these traditional ritual forms with contemporary elements. Each piece and performance blends Eastern and modern Western musical forms and contemporary dance languages into works that emphasize the mythical, experimental, ritualistic, theatrical, historical and healing aspects of music, dance and visual which shares the thoughts and ideas on vital issues such identity, politics, nature and spirituality. Lee has presented her work and performed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Asian Art Museum in SF and performed at Carnegie Zankel Hall in NYC, Teatro Municipal de Lima Peru, Asia and Europe with various artists such as Anna Halprin, Kronos Quartet, Amara Tabor Smith, Shinichi Iova Koga’s Inkboat, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Larry Ochs, Joan Jeanrenaud, Asian Improv aRts and more. A commitment to teaching is also encompassed in her artistic vision. Lee acted as artistic director and instructor at the Korean Youth Cultural Center from 2002 to 2008, resident artist and instructor at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center from 2008 to 2013, and has been a guest instructor and mentor at San Francisco State University, Saint Mary’s College, UC Berkeley and Northern Illinios University and Narrativie Medicine M.S at Columbia University, and she is currently faculty at Tamalpa institute and artistic director of Puri Arts.