Sweating Blood: The Deaths of Sarah Ottens and Ana Mendieta
April 27, 2016 2:44 PM   Subscribe

The violent sexual assault of Sarah Ottens at the University of Iowa inspired a famous art work by Ana Mendieta. But that wasn't the end of the connection between the women. Mendieta would go on to create more artwork invoking the female body, violence, and disappearance (some images NSFW; many are distressing). Twelve years after Ottens's murder, Mendieta would die in suspicious circumstances in a case that has been called the art world's version of the O.J. Simpson trial.

Further reading:

Sarah Weinman discusses how she decided to investigate the Ottens story's connection to Mendieta in her Crime Lady newsletter.

From 2013: Sean O'Hagan on Ana Mendieta's art and death.

Exhibition notes from a recent installation of Mendieta's films at the Galerie Lelong.

An interview with Christine Redfern, author of Who is Ana Mendieta?

Content note: there are many descriptions of violence, death, and sexual assault in Weinman and O'Hagan's Guardian stories, and also in the linked images of Mendieta's artwork .
posted by Gin and Broadband (10 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
A playwright friend of mine, Diana Burbano, co-authored and plays Mendieta in a play called Silueta.
posted by maxsparber at 2:51 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Neither of the Christine Redfern links goes to the interview. But there's a transcript of Jessa Crispin's interview with Redfern on Kirkus Reviews: Bookslut: Christine Redfern on 'Who is Ana Mandieta?"

(I'm looking forward to delving into these links -- thank you for this post.)
posted by virago at 3:31 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had not heard of Mandieta before, but I was impressed by her photographs. So many layers of sadness in the story and lives destroyed.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2016

If you're in Los Angeles you can see three of Mendieta's Siluetas that are a part of MOCA's permanent collection currently on exhibit. Anytime I'm in the museum, I have to go visit them. I find them deeply visceral.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Mendieta's art is amazing. It has been a favorite of mine for years.
posted by oddman at 7:05 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ana Mendieta on YouTube:

Untitled (Blood Sign #2 / Body Tracks) (1974)

Untitled (1974)

Alma Sileueta en Fuego (1975)
posted by ryanshepard at 8:15 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thank you for this lovely collection —ahem— curation. Ana is truly one of the greats, and is discussed not nearly enough, even in the dreary cul-de-sac of "women artists."

It is exactly her refusal to be boxed which is refreshing to this day.
posted by theartandsound at 9:46 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

theartandsound I was shocked that there hadn't been a FPP on Mendieta before, but while her work is astonishing and deserves further attention, it's a helluva shame that it feels like her increasing prominence is linked to the horror and mystery of her death.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 11:46 PM on April 27, 2016

> I was shocked that there hadn't been a FPP on Mendieta before

Same here! I could have sworn there was, but I think I was just vaguely remembering my comment from back in 2003 (mouseover text: "Yeah, I think he did it and got away with it."). She was an amazing artist and I vividly remember her death and the subsequent trial and controversy (I was living in NYC at the time and read everything I could get my hands on about it). Thanks for this post; I knew nothing about Sarah Ottens and her awful fate.
posted by languagehat at 8:23 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thank you so much for this post. I hadn't heard of Ana Mendieta before but I love the little bit of her work shown here. I'm looking forward to learning more.
posted by harriet vane at 7:08 AM on May 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

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