Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta explored issues of the body, earth, and place throughout her brief but influential career. Ochún documents a sculpture from the Silueta series—for which Mendieta is best known—that involved constructing abstract female forms using organic materials such as blood, soil, fire, and feathers. These works were the focus of most of the nearly 80 films that Mendieta created beginning in 1973 when she was a student, establishing her as one of the most prolific artists to take up the medium at this time. Completed just a few years before the end of her life, Ochún is the only project the artist shot on the newer medium of videotape.
Ochún meditates on Mendieta’s experiences as an immigrant. In 1961, at age 12, she was separated from her family in Havana and sent to an orphanage in Iowa as part of a program for exiled children. The video features a Silueta sculpted from earth off the coast of Key Biscayne, on Florida’s southern tip. Water, which dominates the video’s views and soundtrack, is presented as a uniting element that connects both places, evoking the artist’s hope to capture “the transition between my homeland and my new home . . . reclaiming my roots and becoming one with nature.”
Ochún, 1981 ¾-inch U-matic color video, sound; 8:30 min.