Ana Mendieta's sculptural filmworks and photographs position themselves effortlessly in today’s international canon of contemporary art and will be shown for the first time ever in the context of an outdoor sculpture park, at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. This project will act as an enlightening introduction to Mendieta’s oeuvre in Belgium.
Earthbound showcases a selection of fourteen works featuring Mendieta’s interest in the four elements: air, water, fire and earth. In the context of the sculpture collection of the Middelheim Museum, where both the artist and the visitor are always subjected to the elements, Mendieta’s artistic ideas resonate strongly with the recent developments in sculpture, installation and performance art. Through a direct bodily connection with nature, Mendieta’s works seek both a means of individual self-representation and a connection to universal ancestral power.
The project opens up perspectives on how we relate as human beings to our surrounding environment. The framework of Bruno Latour's recent publication Facing Gaia might offer an interesting perspective for exploring the exhibited works of Mendieta. By acknowledging that nature and its elements all have ‘agency’, the artist was able to think beyond the boundaries of religion, history and identity. Similar strategies are suggested thirty years later by Bruno Latour in his proposal for realising a new climatic regime and for changing our relationship to the earth through the ‘Earthbound’.
Mendieta’s work is not only inspiring for the contemporary challenges of today’s society, but also persistently tests the definition of contemporary sculpture. The exhibition offers a plurality of voices in the museum, where Mendieta’s works will be shown alongside those of present-day artists. It’s absolutely clear that Mendieta's artistic vision represents a shift in perspective on recent sculpture traditions, from a vision determined by object oriented-sculpture, to one connected with land art and performance.