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Ana Mendieta

Ana Mendieta: Suspended Fire is an immersive installation featuring two films created by Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta. The installment will be the newest addition to the DAM’s cross-departmental exhibition The Light Show and will showcase remastered versions of Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Firework Piece), 1976, and Untitled: Silueta Series, 1978. The two films portray the primordial element of fire, connecting thematically to The Light Show exhibition’s exploration of physical and symbolic representations of light in art. Organized by the DAM and curated by Laura F. Almeida, curatorial fellow for modern and contemporary art at the DAM. Suspended Fire will be on view Dec. 6, 2020, through March 7, 2021, on level 4 of the Hamilton Building.

Active as an artist throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mendieta used her body as a way to explore ideas of identity and displacement and its connection to the earth. For Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Firework Piece) and Untitled: Silueta Series, Mendieta created silhouettes of her body from firecrackers and a fallen tree, respectively. She set the silhouettes against darkened landscapes and lit them. In these two films, Mendieta explores fire as a symbol of renewal and transformation, creation and destruction, and presence and absence. The artist invites viewers to meditate upon life, death and the passage of time as the burning flames mesmerize us. The silhouettes, which appear suspended in space, also represent her anima, or soul. By placing them outdoors as the only source of light, Mendieta encourages viewers to think about the association between the female body and nature.

Suspended Fire is presented in a darkened space, with the two videos projected onto separate screens hanging from the ceiling, mimicking the suspension of the silhouettes on fire. The screens will be placed diagonally, slightly facing each other, creating an immersive and intimate space where viewers can connect with Mendieta’s art by standing between the two screens.

"One of Mendieta’s legacies is that she was extremely bold in using her own body as a medium to talk about issues of gender, violence, race, identity and belonging," curatorial fellow Almeida said. "She was also among the first female artists who experimented with unconventional organic and ephemeral materials, such as blood, earth, plants, fire and more, fusing landscape with film, performance and body art."

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