I had a vague idea of the work of Ana Mendieta. When I entered the exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and I started seeing so much blood and own body I said to myself: Here we go! Another woman using her body as a tool, I am sick of it! I wanted to leave, but I stayed, and I am happy I did. Deepening I realised how big her work is and how it has influenced other artists. There are artists who love art and artists who love being artists. The former ones are held up by the spine of their vocations and the latter ones by the scaffolding of their pretentions. And Mendieta belongs to the first group.
Then it is also true I don’t like the use she does of her body and of blood. I find it morbid and an unhelpful addition to the thousands of images of violated and annihilated women that are already there. But there is no doubt that it is a choice of artistic language coherent with the ideas and the questions that the artist poses. In addition she was a pioneer. I would love to have the ability to articulate artistically in such an own way.
When I think about it I usually comfort myself by saying I am still young. But who knows where Mendieta would have got if she had lasted longer. It is an advantages of artists, that being old, arthritic and half blind, we can still produce our best work. If there is talent, the restrictions inspire more creativity than what they limit. That is why it is said that being an artist is more an attitude. Amongst others, the one of not giving up.
Illustration: “I don’t wear high heels”, from the Feminist gooseneck barnacles series.