This book blew me away, a phrase I don’t use lightly. There were several reasons why the book bowled me over. Ana’s story is incredible, both her life and death. I was ashamed I had never heard of her, even though an art history buff I am not. Caro Caron’s drawings are mesmerizing in their detail and thoughtfulness. The most profound part of this book, however, is the way in which it is presented. It’s difficult to describe, but author Christine Redfern presents the chasm into which this famous woman’s death has fallen instead of just the story of one woman. This book is about violence against women and Ana at the same time.
Some of you may be familiar with Ana’s story, but for those of you who are not, I suggest you acquaint yourself through this text. It will give you not only the story of one woman’s violent end, but also the arc of her prolific life and the greater cultural context through which those two things are seen. All of this accompanied by drawings so vivid they elicited physical reactions. This is a short book that packs a punch, a fitting vessel for the story of a woman whose career, though cut short, was considered one of the most influential in Cuban Art, Feminist Art, and visual and performing art in general during her time.
This book is one in the Feminist Press’ series Blind Spot. They describe the series as one that “reconstruct[s] the cultural biographies” of “radicals who have changed the culture and who lost their lives or place in history in the process.” If this is the first book of the series, I cannot wait to read the others. I highly recommend this book as a provocative, inspiring read.
Who is Ana Mendietta? by Christine Redfern & Caro Caron with an introduction by Lucy R. Lippard is published by the Feminist Press.