The Passion of St Frida
“Frida Kahlo’s closet opened 58 years after her death” Univision News Report
She bared her soul through her art but now the Museum that bears her name is literally putting her dirty laundry on display. And for some reason that makes us worship her all the more. We find, under the colorful folkloric outfits, the brightly embroidered swathes of disguising cloth, a full body armor of supporting and prosthetic corsetry.
Museum assistants cried when cataloguing the contents of her medicine cabinet because, for the first time, the extent of her pain was apparent. This woman, who appeared so calm and resolute, and who achieved so much in her lifetime, carved her path at huge personal expense.
Didn’t we know this already? Wasn’t she telling us this in her work? But somehow in seeing these pieces the reality of her life hits home. They are intimate, made for her particular needs and illustrate the bravery that marks her out. The most poignant of all, the false leg ending in a jaunty red boot. is almost too much to bear.
And there’s something else — these pieces look like fetish wear. The leather and buckles; her bodice which shows the narrowness of her waist, the rows of stitching and strapping. Most contemporary examples of this lovingly contrived craft come with sexual overtones, the flesh they encase has no need of their embrace.
By looking at these images are we not tasting the thrill of mediaeval pilgrims seeking out objects of veneration, gawping at reliquaries, meditating on the unspeakable pain of her passion? Do we understand her more? Or is this our own fetishization of her body and her legend?
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