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Exploring Ana Mendieta’s Legacy in the Work of Five Contemporary Artists

Ana Tereza Fernández, “Erasure 1 (performance documentation) (detail)” (2016), oil on canvas, 72 x 98 inches (courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco)

Because of the mysterious circumstances of her death, Ana Mendieta’s name often conjures images of intrigue, protest, and solidarity.

But the artist’s true legacy lies elsewhere.

Mendieta synthesized and advanced emergent art forms of the early ‘70s, including performance, body art, earthworks, photography, and film. Museums and galleries around the world have explored her work in exhibitions dating back to the ‘80s and continuing to the present.

This fall, Arizona State University Art Museum is taking a different perspective and looking not only at Mendieta’s art but also at how her artistic practice has influenced contemporary artists in Energy Charge: Connecting to Ana Mendieta.

The exhibition includes an iconic selection of Mendieta’s work from 1972–1985 in conversation with new installations by Ana Teresa Fernández, Kate Gilmore, Simone Leigh, Gina Osterloh, and Antonia Wright.

Fernández, Gilmore, Leigh, Osterloh and Wright further Mendieta’s emphasis on performative process and a fluid approach to media for complex explorations of the raced and gendered body.

Their works utilize the agency of the female body, often their own bodies, in ritualistic actions and constructed environments to explore specific political issues or broader social concerns.

As in Mendieta’s work, their process is often private and later shared with audiences through video, photography, painting or installation.

Energy Charge features this work alongside a live performance series scheduled throughout the exhibition’s run.

Energy Charge: Connecting to Ana Mendieta is on view at ASU Art Museum (51 E. 10th Street, Tempe, Arizona) from September 24 to December 31, 2016.