Dan's Reviews > Who is Ana Mendieta?

Who is Ana Mendieta? by Christine Redfern
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Nov 22, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011

this graphic novel is really short. i ordered it online without actually thumbing through a physical copy, and when it arrived it was about 4 times shorter than i expected.

as much as i love the fact that this book exists and hope that women like redfern and caron will make hundreds more like it, it didn't add much to my understanding of mendieta's work (other than the fact that carl andre was apparently a disheveled-looking hippie - i always picture 70's minimalists looking like fuddy-duddies). for example, i wish there were a larger discussion of the role of ethnicity in her work - how non-western religious practices separate her performances from other "goddess" appropriations, or how her cuban-american identity shaped her politics and practice. i hate to say this, but the book doesn't seem all that rigorously researched (lucy lippard even distances herself from one of its quotes in her introduction), and while redfern is careful not to center the narrative on her untimely and mysterious death/potential murder, she doesn't offer anything of great substance in its place to focus my attention.

the drawings, on the other hand, are beautiful and lovingly rendered. caron does a nice job of balancing caricature with a real appreciation for mendieta's work as an artist. keeping track of the various critics and artists who comment on her story throughout is a bit confusing though - there's an odd glossary on the inside of the cover pages that would be un-necessary if she had simply included identifying placards for the speakers throughout. i'd also like to see a few more panels of context to accompany the quotes. i'm sure some reprehensible things were said about an artist like mendieta, but the ugliest quips appear exclusively as soundbites. and there's not a whole lot of positive press discussed either, save lippard's affectionate, slightly underwhelming introduction.
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