In 2004, a friend brought me to the Whitney Museum to see an exhibition of an artist I knew little of - Ana Mendieta. I was transfixed, deeply touched and overwhelmed by the primordial beauty of the work. As a performing artist, her use of her own body as her primary means of expression spoke to me. I appreciated the ephemeral nature of the works and felt I could sense her desire to document and record what truly existed only at the moment of its realization. I had to have the catalogue that accompanied the exhibit. It was then, after reading the beautifully detailed essays by curator Olga Viso, that I learned of Mendieta’s brief life and untimely death. I began to research her roots, the era and art movement from which she emerged and her doomed marriage to sculptor Carl Andre, who was tried and acquitted of her murder.
In the Spring of 2008, I began to make this film. But how could I tell her story without somehow including the fleeting essence and imagery of her time-based art? The answer became clear - to cinematically re-imagine the artist recreating the pieces I felt best expressed her oeuvre. With the help of two friends and collaborators, the visual artist Gia Grosso and actress Dawn Dunning, I set out to do just that. I chose the island of Maui and the White Oak Plantation in Florida as our locations. I quickly understood both the magnitude and importance of our endeavor. What better way to learn about my subject than to so fully immerse myself in her ideas? I soon realized this made not only for a more interesting film, but became a necessary gesture toward expressing the power, beauty and vibrancy of her body of work.
The result is BloodWork - The Ana Mendieta Story, a digital video and Super8 cross-genre film on Mendieta’s life, work and untimely death. The film combines these transformative recreations and interviews with iconic, feminist artists including Mendieta’s “aesthetic sister” Carolee Schneemann, filmmaker and choreographer, Yvonne Rainer, Mendieta’s friend and film/cultural theorist, B. Ruby Rich, art critic and novelist Lisa Paul Streitfeld and Performance Studies scholar, Jose Esteban Munoz. BloodWork - The Ana Mendieta Story is a study of the process of Mendieta’s art practice, as well as a document of an important artist’s struggle to create, achieve deserved recognition and her tragic and controversial death. BloodWork - The Ana Mendieta Story is also a document of a fertile era of Feminist Art of which she is a central figure.