What the Water Gave Me 1938
I’ve been reading about Frida Kahlo again and it’s helping me to see more in her artwork than my usual shallow interpretation of them portraying pain related to her chronic injuries after the accident or even the slightly more nuanced concerns she had around gender and expectations.
The interconnectivity of this piece means a lot more the more I read about her nationalism and communism. “I wish to cooperate with the Revolution in transforming the world into a class-less one so that we can attain a better rhythm for the oppressed classes”.
Although in the above there are clear links to her injuries, her difficult relationship, to her infertility; there are also references to her rebellion, her need to unite everything and everyone just as she felt “only a cell in the complex revolutionary mechanism of the peoples for peace in the new nations, Soviets — Chinese — Czechoslovakians — Poles — united in blood to me. And to the Mexican Indian”.
As much as I have my own issues with capitalism / fascism, I’m trying to plot Frida’s ideals in the context of her time and her country. I’m also trying to marry it with the apparent failings in attempted communist communities since.
I need to read more about the roots and values of some core political theories again. University feels so long ago. Frustratingly, I appear to remember the script to Lion King or where bad people hide things they don’t want me to find, more so than I do the crucial and current struggles between and within communities, their governments and neighbouring countries and the history informing them. I mentioned to T about trying to learn about Gaza and how I got to grips with it enough that I could explain it to someone else one weekend and by the next I need to brush up.
I think my main feeing having read more and looked at more of Frida’s art is the way she relates her personal experience (specifically female experience) to the universal, political and the communal. Commenting that she was painting her own reality (sorry for the overuse but it is a useful quote) she manages to reference the exploitation of whole countries in the past and present at the same time as her own exploitation or the exploitation of women in general and the narrow forms women were (are) supposed to take. She opened up so that more was visible than had ever been of women and their experience.
More than that she was a woman and she was hindered by illness and injury. The fact that we know her name and her face feels important. The fact we know her beliefs and values in regards to her country and the world as a global community is impressive and I love seeing her distinctive face.
I haven’t edited this and hopefully it’s not too tired and waffley but sometimes it helps to write down my disjointed thoughts. 💭

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