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Opinion

Notes for an art history by 99%

Recentment, el Museu d'Art Contemporani de Castella i Lleó (MUSAC), ha organitzat una exposició anomenada 'En recerca de l'origen', dedicada a Ana Mendieta (1948-1985).

Notes for an art history by 99%
Saray Espinosa girona - 08/03/24

In 1992 the Guggenheim in New York celebrated the expansion of its facilities with a collective exhibition with works by Brancusi, Kandinski, Beuys, Ryman and Carl Andre; at the last moment they also add the work of Louise Bourgeois, in an attempt to escape the attention of feminist critics. The attempt at rectification at the last minute, however, is clearly insufficient: on the day of the inauguration, more than five hundred women gather at the museum's gates, summoned by the Guerrilla Girls and the Women's Action Collection (WAC). "Where is Ana Mendieta?", they ask angrily, although they already know the answer: seven years earlier, on September 8, 1985, Mendieta died after falling from a high-rise window.

The main suspect in the murder, Carl Andre, who was her husband at the time, would end up being declared acquitted in a more than questionable judicial process, in which to protect his reputation there was no popular court, nor were they accepted as evidence of the defensive scratches that covered his face and arms, as well as the statements of the neighbors, who said they had heard the artist scream just before the fall.

In contrast, the defense argument used Mendieta's work as proof of his instability, enough to make the suicide hypothesis plausible. For this reason, says Jane Blocker, the protesters' question is rhetorical: it demands an answer they don't really want: “The only literal answer – it's dead and buried – is painful and unsatisfying. By asking where it is, the demonstrators want to make it clear where it is not".

Ana Mendieta was not in the speeches and art spaces, those same ones that absolved her executioner. A few protesters take it upon themselves to fix it: infiltrated the opening, they cover Andre's work with images of Mendieta's face, and others paper the walls with posters asking them: "Are you not tired of seeing, always, the same white men?” No answer is expected here either: as the banner of one of the demonstrators proclaims, "it's time to escape the men's club". Art history will never be yours alone again.

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