Ana Mendieta


My first visit to the Hayward Gallery on Southbank in London, and the exhibition which was most intriguing was Ana Mendieta’s Traces. She died suddenly when she was in her thirties and it was tragic to think all that potential being left unexplored.

However, she was incredibly prolific and there were many huge gallery rooms to go around and take in. I’ve a written a poem that takes some of her works point by point, and I’m going to intersperse her works throughout the piece to give a visual. Much of her work was performance based, and she thoroughly documented each stage of it, then would choose one photographic still to represent the completed work. She also used video. Much of her work was untitled.  All work belongs to: The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection.

Hopefully you’ll get a sense of her through this combined piece. There is humour in the strangeness of her work, but tenderness and passion and depth as well.

Here is how to begin

Dip your hands in blood,

hold a chicken by it’s feet

with your clothes off and let

it struggle just below

your naked midriff

do not move, do not say anything.

Take your clothes off again,

ask your friends to glue grass to your back

as you lie face down in a field

think of nothing.

AM grass back

Bend over a table for two hours

without moving, cold blood on your legs.

Apply a pane of glass to your body

rearrange your breasts so that

one nipple is squashed flat,

the other puffs from the glass’s edge.

AM glass

Place a lamb’s heart on your bandaged chest,

explore gun powder,

scorch the imprints of leaves into dead wood.

AM candles


Arrange candles around your body,

step back and set them on fire.

When people ask what you are doing

tell them that gluing a single feather

to each pore of a person’s skin

is a work of intense labour

not easily forgotten.

AM feathers


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