After Mendieta untimely death in 1985, Edelson made a silkscreen homage to her friend.
The select pages describe Edelson’s intentions and the steps in which the participants would be involved. She writes in the book that the first half of the ritual is devoted to the dark goddess Ereshkigal (a Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld), while the later half is devoted to her sister the light goddess Inanna (a Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, also known as Ishtar). These references reflect Edelson’s interest in ancient goddesses as models and sources of strength for contemporary women, a subject matter that is seen throughout her artistic production as in her earlier "Goddess Tribe" installation. With this overarching framework, Edelson directed a series of steps that she, Schneemann, or the participants would partake. It followed that the participants would symbolically wound Schneemann with a painted “cut” on her skin as they painted/stated their own wounds. Schneemann would then speak of her loss and the “wounds” would be symbolically washed away. Each would adorn themselves with wound bracelets which would gradually wear away, as would Schneemann’s own. Schneemann’s own dark clothing would be cut off to reveal new clothing underneath, symbolizing a shedding and emergence anew. Edelson noted that “This ritual came to me with a full script in a dream.” (Edelson, "Shape Shifter: Seven Mediums," 45).
Written by Dr. Kathleen Wentrack
(c) 2019 Kathleen Wentrack
Kathleen Wentrack, PhD, is a Professor of Art History at The City University of New York, Queensborough CC and the editor of the forthcoming book "Collaboration, Empowerment, Change: Women’s Art Collectives." She recently published “1970s Feminist Practice as Heterotopian: The Stichting Vrouwen in de Beeldende Kunst and the Schule für kreativen Feminismus,” in "All Women Art Spaces in the Long 1970s" edited by Agata Jakubowska and Katy Deepwell (Liverpool University Press, 2018). She is a contributing editor to Art History Teaching Resources and Art History Pedagogy and Practice and a co-coordinator of The Feminist Art Project in New York City.
Produced by Erica Galluscio
Photography of studio space provided by Kolin Mendez Photography
Accola Griefen Fine Art exhibition photos courtesy of Accola Griefen Fine Art: Rob van Erve
Images of "Goddess Tribe" installation courtesy of David Lewis New York
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Edelson, Mary Beth. Interview with Kathleen Wentrack. New York, 12 September 2008.
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