The 'fridaization' of Ana Mendieta

According to her niece and executor of her work, the artist Ana Mendieta used to say that she was going to be “bigger than Frida.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
30 March 2024 Saturday 11:10
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The 'fridaization' of Ana Mendieta

According to her niece and executor of her work, the artist Ana Mendieta used to say that she was going to be “bigger than Frida.” She did not have time to realize all that hunger and ambition because she died in 1985 at only 36 years old, after falling from a thirty-third floor window in an argument with her husband of only three months, the artist Carl Andre. The sculptor was acquitted of homicide in a trial that shook the entire art world, but Mendieta's family and entourage always maintained that it was he who pushed her. The Cuban artist, who is starring in a retrospective at the Musac in León until the end of May, could indeed be on the path to fridaization, with all that that entails, forty years after her death. Two years ago a very popular podcast, Death of an artist, was broadcast about her life and her death; A novel will soon be published in English, by Xochitl González, which is based almost step by step on her story, although in the book the artist who dies falling out of the window is called Anita de Monte and not Ana Mendieta. In addition, it is already known that America Ferrera will produce and star in a series based on the artist's life, which does not have, at the moment, the permission of her family.

At D'A, the auteur film festival that arrives punctually after Easter (from April 4 to 14, in several theaters), it is better to go without too much information, to let yourself be surprised by the program and discover new names. Even so, those who come with specific objectives, to get ahead of all their film-loving friends, should know that in this edition there are several premieres by local filmmakers. Starting with the debut of Celia Giraldo, an ESCAC graduate who has filmed A Common Place, with Eva Llorach in the role of a woman who enters into an identity crisis when she loses her job. Adrià Pagès premieres Solo threw, the story of two musicians that takes place in the landscapes of the Empordà. Marc Ferrer returns to the Raval, the neighborhood that he has turned into the target of his camera with Laugh, sing, maybe cry. And after his appearance at the Texas SXSW festival, where he received the award for Best Female Performance, the long-awaited Mamína will be seen for the first time in Europe, with María Rodríguez Soto and Enric Auquer.

A few days ago, Laurent de Brunhoff, the co-creator of the children's character Babar, died at the age of 88. De Brunhoff, who actually continued the work that his father had started, who died when he was a teenager having published the first five Gentleman Elephant albums, leaves the franchise in good condition. Not only do the books continue to sell in all formats – in 2022, Blackie Books published an album compiling all the stories – but the character is well positioned. A few months ago Zara Home based an entire children's collection on the character, as did the Catalan high-end children's clothing brand The Animals Observatory. All this despite the fact that Babar, like Tintin and other characters, has been labeled as problematic for decades. The Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman already published an essay in 1983 in which he accused the little elephant, which leaves the jungle to integrate with human clothes and manners in the Paris of the belle epoque and then returns to Africa to teach the other elephants what has learned, from being a top-level propaganda battering ram of French colonialism. In 2014, National Geographic magazine asked Laurent de Brunhoff about this and he replied: “Dorfman is right, absolutely. In some ways it's embarrassing to see Babar fight with black people in Africa. My second book, Babar's Picnic, based on an illustration by my father, embarrassed me so much years later that I asked my publishers to withdraw it.”

Lauren Groff is one of the most fertile and productive novelists working. She is still working on her ambitious Matrix (Lumen / L' Altra) and will soon publish The Wildest Land. A few years ago she dedicated a book of stories to her adopted homeland, Florida, and now she is about to open a bookstore there, spurred in large part by Governor Ron de Santis's restrictive laws, which have turned that state into the place of the United States. United where more books are censored in libraries and persecuted in bookstores. Its establishment will be in the city of Gainesville and will focus on authors who have been victims of this censorship and on racialized and LGTBQ signatures. Groff told Publisher's Weekly that she hopes her bookstore will also help other Americans understand that not everyone in Florida is a far-right sympathizer. She has been given advice by other authors turned booksellers such as Emma Struab, who has a space in New York called Books Are Magic, and Ann Pratchett, who has long run a bookstore in Nashville.

Last week, one of those commemorative plaques that people place when someone dies, to pay tribute to them, appeared on a bank in the English city of Bristol. The thing is that this one went viral for its text: “For my love 11/26/53-04/03/20. Beloved husband, father and adulterer. YES, John, I knew it.” As surely planned, someone took a photo of the plaque and it went viral. From there, speculation began about the possibility that the curious tribute was not real but an initiative by Banksy, a native of Bristol. Until another artist, who also operates under a pseudonym (The Misfortuneteller), claimed that the work was not his but was plagiarized from a series of plates with ironic messages that he made in 2020. The artist declared to The Guardian: “I am Furious at the person who saw this, he copied it and put it on a bench. It is a reflection of how difficult it is to protect intellectual property today. It's interesting how things go viral. On the one hand, you should be happy that people like your stuff, but even if a million people like it, you don't get anything out of it.