Femicides are rushing at us, one after another. Some, literally. A 22-year-old girl falls from the sixth floor after a fight with her boyfriend. He was in front of her, but she claims it was an accident. Obvious. We get nervous and lose our balance. It has happened in Benidorm, I remember railings on the balconies of Benidorm. Ana Mendieta comes to me, plunging from the 34th floor of her apartment in New York. 1985. Her husband was there, they argued. He was acquitted for lack of evidence, though she yelled “no, no, no” as she fell and he had scratches across her face.
Ana Mendieta came into my life because all my plastic artist friends revere her. In 1961, when they were still children, Ana and her sister Raquel were banished from Havana to Iowa, alone: abandonment was preferable to communism. “Whores, blacks: go back to Cuba,” they shouted at them. In 1972, she photographed different parts of her body crushed through glass, the moment of macho violence impacting on her, on us. She reacted to a brutal femicide on her campus with a facility in which she was kept naked, bound, and covered in blood. She created a border art, linked to the earth, stolen goddesses such as transfiguration and feminism.
When they told me at school that the so-called Venus of Willendorf represented a fertility goddess, I was stirred by a primal rage. I am the daughter of a mother, I have nothing against our prodigious pregnant capacity. But where something bothers you, overturn your own light. It is true that its proportions are strange… If you are a woman, look at yourself naked, downwards. You just got it: Paleolithic Venuses were self-portraits. Like those of Ana Mendieta, but before the patriarchy. Sure, it was discovered by an aunt, the anthropologist Catherine Hodge McCoid. As biologists are discovering that many critters have clitorises as wonderful as ours, why don’t they ignore them! And there we continue, illuminating and acting to undo so much dominance. Happy feminist 2023!