Museum  August 24, 2018  Chandra Noyes

Body Art Then and Now in "a body measured against the earth"

© 1969 Vito Acconci Photo © MCA Chicago

Vito Acconci, Stretch, 1969. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.24.

The ecofeminist visions of artist Ana Mendieta and writer Rebecca Solnit guide this exhibition of works concerned with how the body relates to the earth. Drawn primarily from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s (MCA) permanent collection, a body measured against the earth shows how Land Art and the reclamation of and interest in the body found in Feminist Art intersect and converse.

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Ana Mendieta, Untitled from the Silueta series, 1973–77. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, 2002.46.3

Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) was a Cuban American artist whose belief that the body is an artist's most powerful medium shaped much of her work. Using her body as subject, medium, and tool, Mendieta created performances, videos, sculptures and paintings that engage issues of identity and belonging through the body and our natural environment. Her groundbreaking work is influential to a new generation of third-wave feminist artists and speaks to contemporary ecological issues. Her untimely death at the age of 33 remains controversial. Fans of her work have protested at recent exhibitions of Carl Andre, her husband, who was the only person present when she fell to her death from the window of their Greenwich Village apartment.

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Hamish Fulton, France on the Horizon, 1976. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Baxter Travenol Laboratories, Inc., Deerfield, IL, 1983.21

Artists and contemporaries of Mendieta, Richard Long and Hamish Fulton connect the idea of the body as medium with Solnit’s text, Wanderlust: A History of Walking. By habitually walking the same path over a long period of time, these artists made their mark on the earth. Like Mendieta’s Silueta Series, the body is absent from the resulting photographs, leaving only its impact on the environment for us to ponder.

Courtesy of the Artists and Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City

Regina José Galindo, Tierra, 2013 

Organized by Jared Quinton, former MCA Curatorial Fellow, a body measured against the earth highlights how Mendieta's ideas and works have reverberated throughout contemporary art.

A body measured against the earth is on view at the MCA Chicago through April 7, 2019.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra is managing editor for Art & Object.