Where Is Ana Mendieta?

Identity, Performativity, and Exile

Where Is Ana Mendieta?

Book Pages: 184 Illustrations: 29 b&w photographs Published: February 1999

Author: Jane Blocker

Art and Visual Culture > Feminist Art, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Theater and Performance > Performance Art

Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-born artist who lived in exile in the United States, was one of the most provocative and complex personalities of the 1970s’ artworld. In Where Is Ana Mendieta? art historian Jane Blocker provides an in-depth critical analysis of Mendieta’s diverse body of work. Although her untimely death in 1985 remains shrouded in controversy, her life and artistic legacy provide a unique vantage point from which to consider the history of performance art, installation, and earth works, as well as feminism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism.
Taken from banners carried in a 1992 protest outside the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the title phrase “Where is Ana Mendieta?” evokes not only the suspicious and tragic circumstances surrounding her death but also the conspicuous absence of women artists from high-profile exhibitions. Drawing on the work of such theorists as Judith Butler, Joseph Roach, Edward Said, and Homi Bhabha, Blocker discusses the power of Mendieta’s earth-and-body art to alter, unsettle, and broaden the terms of identity itself. She shows how Mendieta used exile as a discursive position from which to disrupt dominant categories, analyzing as well Mendieta’s use of mythology and anthropology, the ephemeral nature of her media, and the debates over her ethnic, gender, and national identities.
As the first major critical examination of this enigmatic artist’s work, Where Is Ana Mendieta? will interest a broad audience, particularly those involved with the production, criticism, theory, and history of contemporary art.


“Effectively arguing that Mendieta is not the earth mother her detractors make her out to be, Blocker’s premise is that Mendieta’s earthworks were more performative than sculptural. . . . Blocker poses the strong link between earth and nation, resulting in a re-reading of Mendieta’s work that is highly political and makes free use of the post-colonial strategies of theorists such as Homi Bhaba and Edward Said. Blocker shrewdly challenges fellow critics, taking on the gamut of biting and dismissive critiques. . . . In the progressive, enlightened ’90s, when a sculpture by Carl Andre is still the more valued acquisition, Where is Ana Mendieta? is one of the few books that attempts the correction of this grave negligence. Weighty and thoughtful, Blocker has written a precise and convincing analysis of Ana Mendieta’s overwhelming significance as an artist.” — , New Art Examiner

“This book offers a more rigorous historical and cultural analysis than earlier texts on Ana Mendieta. It adds usefully to one’s understanding of Mendieta’s work and will contribute to her insertion into history.” — Mira Schor, author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture

“This is a very important study of one of the most ambitious and intriguing artists of our time. Blocker’s work brings together performance theory, historiography, art history, and biography in order to illuminate some of the beckoning caves and shadows of Mendieta’s art and life.” — Peggy Phelan, author of Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories


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Price: $24.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jane Blocker is Assistant Professor of Art History at Georgia State University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations



Introduction: Where Is Ana Mendieta?

1. Fire

2. Earth

3. Exile

4. Travel

5. Body

Conclusion: Writing toward Disappearance



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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2324-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2304-4
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