Who is Frida Kahlo?
Tomorrow we celebrate the 104th birthday of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist known for her striking self-portraits. Kahlo's work was largely influenced by pain after a bus accident left her with permanent disabilities, making her an inspirational figure from a disability point of view.
In 2006, conceptual identity performance artist Maya Escobar (@mayaescobar) created a Youtube video called "el es frida kahlo," below.
A Latina "Jewess with attitude," Maya Escobar plays with the web as a platform for engaging in community dialogue around identity and multiple identities--how they are socially and culturally constructed. She often assumes multiple identities in her performances, drawing from various existing representations.
About "el es frida kahlo," she writes:
Frida Kahlo played with the identity that she wanted to project and the identity that was placed on her by others. Kahlo used her clothing, political affiliations, sexual escapades, and personal traumas, to create a character that informed her body of work. She inscribed her identity, painting her image over and over, constructing a mythology around her persona.
In el es frida kahlo I confront the ambivalence I experience as a result of my simultaneous obsession with Frida Kahlo and weariness towards her commodification.
What is your reaction to this confrontational piece? Do you identify with Escobar's ambivalence towards Kahlo, her work, and her commodification in our culture?
Maya Escobar received her MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, United States, Germany, Venezuela, and Chile. You can see more examples of her work at mayaescobar.com.
How to cite this page
Berkenwald, Leah. "Who is Frida Kahlo?." 5 July 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 21, 2020) <https://jwa.org/blog/who-is-frida-kahlo>.