The full title of this article is “10 Female Performance Artists You Should Know, from Ana Mendieta to Carolee Schneemann,” from Artsy magazine. Although I can think of about ten more, if we focus on the Caribbean alone, I appreciate that Karen Chernic features Cuban artists Ana Mendieta and Tania Bruguera and Colombian artist María Evelia Marmolejo on the list. Here are excerpts; see Artsy for full article:
As a new wave of the feminist movement began to crest in the 1960s and ’70s, women artists turned to the then-uncharted field of performance. “One of the things about performance and the area that I went into was that it wasn’t male-dominated,” artist Joan Jonas explained in 2014. “It wasn’t like painting and sculpture.” Adopting a new medium meant greater freedom to experiment, without fear of comparison to the generations of male artists that preceded them.
Performance art can be difficult to define, but it’s easy to point to two big-name women working within the medium: Marina Abramović and Yoko Ono. There were, however, a number of other female artists from the same generation who played instrumental roles in shaping the medium. [. . .]
Ana Mendieta: At the tender age of 12, Mendieta fled the political turmoil of her native Havana for an orphanage in Dubuque, Iowa, together with her sister and thousands of other unaccompanied Cuban children. Unsurprisingly, her works deal largely with displacement, questioning her national and gender identities. Mendieta’s own body—the constant that anchored her throughout the fluctuations of place, language, and ideology that she experienced as a youth—became her instrument for performance pieces that have been linked to Conceptual Art, Feminist Art, and Land Art.
One of her best-known works, the “Silueta Series” (1973–77), saw Mendieta imprint her body into natural Mexican and Iowan landscapes and fill in the residual outlines with organic materials such as flowers, branches, or moss. “It is a way of reclaiming my roots and becoming one with nature,” Mendieta once said. Today, her artistic legacy is entangled with the story of her untimely death at age 36. In 1985, Mendieta fell out of the 34th-floor window of the apartment she shared with her husband, minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. Andre was charged with her murder but ultimately acquitted.
Tania Bruguera: As a Cuban artist working between Havana and the United States, Bruguera has centered her practice on issues of political power and representation. Early works focused on her own body, paying tribute to fellow Cuban artist Mendieta, but she has since shifted to incorporating audience interaction. Bruguera is perhaps best known for Tatlin’s Whisper #6 (Havana version) (2009), performed at the Havana Biennial. The work encompassed a stage on which audience members were granted the opportunity to speak freely for one minute before being escorted offstage by actors in military uniforms. “I think there’s something interesting about Cuban art and perhaps the art in other socialist countries,” Bruguera said in a 2017 interview. “In these settings, art replaces spaces of freedom that cannot be found anywhere else.” Bruguera’s attempts to reenact this performance in Havana led to multiple arrests in 2014 and 2015. [. . .]