This autumn the Hayward Gallery has put on two retrospectives of works by female visual artists, Ana Mendieta and Dayanita Singh.
There is a scandalous background surrounding the former, a premature death (or murder as some suggest) in 1985 and it brings in the obvious cries of her dark work foreshadowing her untimely death. There is particular media attention on this which draws away from the actual works Mendieta has produced. Although, it might just be impossible to separate the context with the content.
Ritualistic performances, blood splattered imagery and evoking traditions of Latin American culture all became central to Mendieta’s work along with themes such as, beauty and gender. The images are hard to ignore and the questions raised are just as relevant today than when they were made in the 1970s.
Speaking of the exhibition, Mendieta’s sister stated: “Her work was about life and power and energy and not about death.”
However I’m not too sure if that message resonated with me…
Dayanita Singh’s work I felt was almost the polar opposite to Mendieta’s. It felt much more initmate, much more gentle and much less confrontational obviously, different issues and motives were being addressed and used at the time of making the images. Singh’s photographs give the viewer an insight into India’s elite upper-class creating an archive of everyday moments. There is understated beauty in her work. I didn’t find it easy to read the two exhibitions together but maybe this is not the intention of the gallery.
Ana Medieta: Traces & Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer are both running until 15th December at the Hayward Gallery. Tickets are £11 and allow you access to both exhibitions. More information can be found here