‘Rape Scene’ by Ana Mendieta (1973)
In her most confrontational work, Rape Scenes, which she performed several times in different locations in the area where a real rape had taken place, she devised a context where her own body had acted as a politicised form of ‘readymade’.
A fellow student at the Iowa University campus (where Mendieta studied) had been raped and murdered. In one version of this work Mendieta invited friends and colleagues to her apartment, leaving the door slightly ajar. When the entered they saw a brutal post-rape scene which she had created around her as a tableau, with her body still posed at the centre. The unpreparedness of the viewers and the specificity of the recent actual incident countered the possibility that she would be seen as an anonymous object in a theatrical tableau. In this way the work offered a form of resistance and redress by politically reappropriating the objectification of the female body.