26

SUNDAY

Ana Mendieta’s work is all about location. The Cuban-born artist and her sister were taken from their parents during early adolescence; Castro’s Communist revolution forced them into exile in the United States in 1961. Mendieta’s life between worlds—between her vanished childhood homeland and her alien adoptive country—ultimately found direct expression in her art. Roaming outside the sterile spaces of the contemporary gallery, she found powerful connections between her own naked body and the natural landscape. In countless ritualistic performances during her all-too-brief lifetime, Mendieta metaphorically dissipated her form into the welcoming earth. This, of course, creates presentation problems. Today, in conjunction with “Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972–1985,” the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden offers a chance to explore the thorny issue of place in Mendieta’s work. Part funeral service, part reconciliation with the tenuous nature of life, Nañigo Burial is a series of partly burned black candles and scattered wax drippings; their arrangement on the gallery floor traces Mendieta’s silhouette. Judge how the piece works—or doesn’t—on the concrete floor of the museum from noon to 5 p.m. at the Hirshhorn, 7th Street and Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Jeffry Cudlin)