Ana Mendieta (American, born Cuba, 1948-1985)
Silueta Works in Mexico (1977)
Color photograph, 20 x 13 ¼”
Deaccession Art Purchase Fund, 2000.51
Mendieta is known for her synthesis of performance, feminist, and land art. This photograph documents a group of temporary earthworks. Through its ephemerality, Mendieta’s series of Siluetas or silhouettes suggests the fragility of human beings in relation to Nature.
Though humans are now the dominant biological power of the Anthropocene, for most of our existence, we've occupied the middle of the food “chain,” being prey to some creatures, and predators of others. Nevertheless, humans remain part of ecology, which is part of an even grander system of energy and matter flowing from the Earth to us and then back to Earth. These burial scenes suggest we remain in the middle of all things, rather than on top. We must not forget that the word “humanity" comes from the same Latin root as humus, meaning the stuff underground.