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September 23, 2022 7 mins

We'll be dropping a trailer for the new brand new season of Bad Women next week. But in the meantime, here’s a preview from Death of an Artist, a new podcast from Pushkin Industries.

For more than 35 years, accusations of murder shrouded one of the art world’s most storied couples: Was the famous sculptor Carl Andre involved in the death of his up-and-coming artist wife Ana Mendieta? Host Helen Molesworth revisits Mendieta’s death, taking a closer look at how she might have fallen out of the window of  Carl’s 34th floor New York apartment, and the following trial which has divided the art world since 1985.

Hear more from Death of an Artist at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/artist?sid=women.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin, Hey, Bad Women, listen, Nurse Hallie here. We're working
hard on the new season of Bad Women coming October eleventh,
But in the meantime, I wanted to share a new
true crime podcast from Pushkin. I think you're going to
love it. It's called Death of an Artist. Anna Mendietta

(00:37):
was on her way to the top of the art
world when she fell thirty four stories to her death
on September eighth, nineteen eighty five. She was in the
prime of her life and gaining recognition for her genre
bending performance art while living with her husband, the famous
sculptor Carl Andrea. From the outside, it looked like a

(00:58):
romance for the ages between two incredibly talented and fascinating people,
but Mendietta and Andrea's inner circle saw something very different.
Mendy at his untimely death caused a rift in the
art world, one that pit women against men, feminists against
non feminists, and a new generation against the old god.

(01:21):
On Death of an Artist, critically acclaimed curator Helen Molesworth
revisits Mendieta's death, the trial that followed, and both the
protest and silence that have accompanied this story ever since.
Here's the preview. You can follow Anna's story by searching
for a death of an artist wherever you get your podcasts.

(01:42):
We've arrived at the threshold of our terrible story Sunday,
September eighth, nineteen eighty five, a mere nine months after
their wedding. There's a lot we don't know about that evening.
Here are a few things we know for certain. We
know that Anna never moved her things as she had

(02:05):
planned to. We know that the unhappy couple spent the
evening at Carl's place, an apartment on the thirty fourth
floor of a relatively new luxury high rise in Greenwich Village.
That night, like New Yorkers everywhere, they ordered Chinese food
and watched TV. Then, sometime after five am, a passerby

(02:32):
on the street below heard a woman's scream, no, no, No.
A moment later, there was a sound like an explosion
on the roof of the deli below Carl's apartment. Anna
had fallen from above. Carl called five twenty nine am.

(02:56):
We don't have the tape of that call. After the verdict,
the whole trial record, including the call, was sealed, but
a reporter who heard it played at trial said Carl.
Andre's voice was distressed that he wailed and that his
explanation was interrupted with cries and moans. We've asked voice

(03:17):
actors to read parts of the transcript of the nine
one one call Police Worth Emergency, Yes, my wife has
committed suicide, saying my wife has committed suicide. Carl gives
the address his phone number and says they're on the
thirty fourth floor. The operator asks what happened exactly? Yeah, Well,

(03:41):
what happened was we had a my wife is an
artist and I'm an artist, and we had a chorl
about the fact that I was more exposed to the
public than she wasn't She went to the bedroom and
I went after her, and she went out of the window.
So she jumped out of the window. How long ago
did this happen? Well, I don't know. I don't know.

(04:03):
I don't know, I don't know. It wasn't I don't know.
They talked for several more seconds, did it and recently?
Did it happen just now? Oh, it happened just now.
I mean, I can't I can't tell you the building
and yeah, I don't know, it's it's I can't, I
can't help you. I can't help you. In September of

(04:37):
nineteen eighty five, I was a sophomore in college in Albany,
New York. I had already walked on top of one
of carl Andre's sculptures. They were installed in nearly every
museum in the country. I'd be lying if I didn't
tell you how much I love them. I was completely
turned on by their taboo breaking fuck you energy. The

(04:59):
severity of his metal plates lying on the floor in
a simple checkerboard pattern almost struck me as punk in
my younger Brasher years. I didn't learn about Anna Mendietta
until years after her death, when I was well into
graduate school, and even then I learned about her from
a fellow student, not through any of my professors. I

(05:23):
was trained by art historians who believe the prime directive
was to separate the life of the artist from their work.
This meant no one ever said that Carl Andre was
married to Anna Mendietta, much less that he was accused
of murdering her. Topped that off with the fact that
Anna Mendietta was a Cuban immigrant showing at a feminist

(05:43):
gallery working with blood, making work that summoned the idea
of the Earth goddess. Nothing could have been less cool.
In my philosophically inclined education the privileged theory over feeling.
But during the first two decades of the twenty first century,
the world changed a lot and fast, and I think

(06:04):
I did too. If I had a son, he looked
like Trebon. That this moment and where we are right
now is a resurgence from where the civil rights movement
left up. President Trump is defending a temporary travel band
for seven Muslim majority countries as a monument of life supprise.
Thousands of women are using two words on social media

(06:25):
to identify themselves as survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
Today it's hashtag me too. I found myself thinking about
Anna because she did go on to become a free
to call a like figure, more powerful after her death
than before, larger than life, revered. Scores of artists, mostly women,

(06:50):
studied her, reenacted her performances, paid homage to her with
their own work. They make pilgrimages to the important sites
of her life Havana, Iowa City, Rome, Greenwich Village. And
over the years I came to love Anna Mendieta's art
because it felt so urgent, so relevant, because politics did

(07:12):
start to feel personal and identity does matter. But could
I love Mendietta's work while also still being a fan
of Carl Andre's sculptures, or did I have to choose sides?
It felt like the only way to answer that question
was by asking another what really happened the night Anna died?

(07:37):
I wondered what we might be able to learn if
we returned to her story. When we first started making
this podcast, I assumed folks would want to talk about
what happened between Anna and Carl Man. Was I wrong?
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