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.
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.