Ana Mendieta Films a Fall From on High, Years Before Her Death

THE DAILY PIC: In 1974, she filmed a weather balloon blown out of the sky.


THE DAILY PIC (#1485): These four images are stills from a little movie called Weather Balloon, Feathered Balloon, shot by Ana Mendieta in 1974, when she was a student in Iowa. The piece is now in the show called “Ana Mendieta: Experimental and Interactive Films,” which opened two days ago at Galerie Lelong in New York and does a fine job revealing the artist’s skills as an experimental filmmaker. It includes several newly-digitized works that have never been screened before, or not at least since Mendieta’s student days.

The 1974 movie that is today’s Pic records the flight of a weather balloon which we watch get shot out of the sky, only to unleash a little cloud of turkey feathers that float down to the fields below. The movie achieves a perfect balance between violence (that guiltless white balloon blown away for no reason) and cheer (those silly bird quills allowed to roam free).

I think Mendieta’s work generally contains far more humor, or at least guile and wit, than is usually acknowledged: There’s an element of Dada absurdism in even her most sober, ritualistic, blood-filled performances. But, with hindsight, it’s also impossible not to feel the tragedy of her own final flight, out the window of that SoHo loft, in the descent to earth of her weather balloon. The drifting feathers stand pretty well for all the works she left behind. (© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York).

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