Ron Silliman got me interested in seeing the Frida Kahlo show. Yesterday, a friend and I traveled to Philadelphia to see it. With a little luck and good timing, we managed not to wait in line and the audience was sparse. As Silliman said, the paintings were nothing less than spectacular. My exhaustion from the trip keeps me from writing much, but a few things did strike my interest.
I adore Kahlo, In my small, stupid opinion, she was one of the last century's most important painters. The fact that that list would, unfortunately, largely dedicated to men, is part of what makes Frida a great feminist. As Silliman notes, unlike Plath, Kahlo didn't kill herself. Instead, she made art. As a young-ish handicapped woman prone to constant mood swings, this realization was very poinent for me yesterday, particularly after falling into a morass because a woman turned to my friend (referring to me) and asked her "How does she make it up the stairs?" A more appropriate question might have been, "How does she make it through the world?"
But, I digress.
In this respect, and many others, Kahlo is a champion of feminism. More importantly, she is also a champion of crippled people, of pain, of the alternate body. People never say it, and she wouldn't herself, but she is a disability activist. A crippled woman who was powerful, sexy, and had a string of men on her arm.
That said, I do find Frida's relationship to Diego as making her 'feminsist status' problematic. She did pine after a guy, after all.