MASA is delighted to announce “Elementos Vitales,” an exhibition that honors the work of Ana Mendieta by returning the aftereffects of an encounter — its documentation and subsequent influence — to the place itself. For the first time, five of the artist’s celebrated filmworks will be presented in the state of Oaxaca, where they were made, including the first filmwork from Mendieta’s ‘Silueta’ series, filmed at the Yagul archaeological site in 1974.
Paired with newly commissioned installations by five contemporary artists, architects, and designers, and curated by Mexico City-based writer Su Wu, the exhibition highlights the prodigious period in which Mendieta’s travels to Mexico coincided with the development of her singular approach to earth-body works. After an adolescence in exile and foster care in the United States, the Cuban-born artist traveled in the 1970s repeatedly to Mexico, where she made many of her best-known pieces. In Oaxaca, Mendieta embedded, incised, and burnt her silhouette in the region’s waterways and temples — what she called a “voluntary submersion” — letting the traces disappear except for their filmic documentation. In these interactions with the terrain, monumentality derives not from geographic scale but from temporality, and the brevitic moments when consciousness, effort and epochal time intersect.