Frida mi vida by Renate Reichert
Fantasy in variations on Frida Kahlo's painting "The Two Fridas"
Starting from the photocopy of the "corrected" painting of "The Two Fridas", Renate Reichert
created a series of reproductions with a technique that has no official name, as it is an
invention of the author, called by her "manual and global": manual because the materials are
handmade and global because the frame is an integral part of the whole, giving it a tridimensional
aspect. The project is intended in a ludic sense, similar to the fantasmagory of the Mexican "arte
popolar" which Frida loved, collected and used in her paintings.
Every painting includes a written sentence, often a question, that indicates its significance.
These inscriptions are complex, a sort of perosnal dialogue between Frida and the author, alluding
to an infinity of things, events, persons, tradition born of the love for Mexico that the two women
have in common. It's a sort of unofficial mutual biography, a series of true and invented stories,
The hystory of the project told by the author:
"The origin of the series "Frida -mi vida-" has no straight line, but is born from the meander of a slow
approach to the artist Frida Kahlo and, specifically to her painting "The two Fridas". I saw that painting
for the first time in the sixties,and it provoked, at the same time with the admiration for its beauty, also
a strong sense of discomfort, almost repulsion, in front of the cruel rappresentation of pain.
Five years later, when I moved to live in Mexico, I wanted to investigate this feeling and I started a
research on Frida's topografical traces in Mexico-City. She can be seen in the murals of the National
Palace, painted by her husband Diego Rivera as an aztec prostitute or political activist; or in the Museo
Mural where Rivera painted her with the sign of the ying and yang in her left hand, maternal and wise,
beside himself as a boy.
The place where she can be felt more intensly is, without any doubt, the house where she is
born, has lived and died, the Blue House in Coyoacán. I had the fortune to live six years
in Coyoacán, at the beginning of the seventies. The Blue House at that time had become the
Museo Frida Kahlo fifteen years ago, but it was a desert. During my repeated incursions,
seldom I met another visitor. The entry was free, the keeper at the entrance hardly raised
the head, the rooms were practically unguarded.It was like entering into a house whose habitants
were temporarily absent, could retourn at any moment.
In this private space one could absorb that which is the essence of Frida, as an artist and as a
woman. She speaks through every detail : the colours of the tiles in the kitchen, the books, the
ex-votos in the staircase, the collection of precolombian and popular art, the traditional toys, her
dresses and jewels, the diary which would be pubblicated only twenty years later. There was an
atmosphere of magic suggestion that made her presence almost tangible.
A curiosity in the Blue House is the fact that there is a black-and-white fotocopy, in the original
size, of "The two Fridas", in the room where she was born. It always seemed to me a curatorial
absurdity,as the original is not very far, in the Museum of Modern Art. But perhaps this circumstance
induced me, twenty years later, to make myself a fotocopy of the painting, and to let go an ancient
fantasy, namely: rescue Frida from pain, empty the painting of its heraldry of suffering.
Concretely and symbolically, I eliminated all the symptoms of pain : the blood, the broken heart, the
hemostatic scissors. The result of the operation, the two Fridas without their bleeding anatomy,
became two women holding each other by the hand, the auto-solidary double.
My intervention wants to be interpreted as an act of love. It is not a question of denying her pain,
of not respecting it, but of emphazising others of her qualities : the love for life, the courage and
humour. I wanted to enter in contact with the solar Frida.
This is how began the series "Frida -mi vida-".They are small paintings in form of a tridimensional box,
representing the two Fridas, with a text below which determines their contents, and which begins
invaryably with "Frida -mi vida-", an affectionate form to address a person, very familiar in Mexico.
We started a dialogue about all that was part of her world : her land, the traditions, the political
questions and the persons near her. During this conversation, the themes increased, including also
storical events beyond her time, like the conflict in Chiapas or the 11th of September of the twin towers,
besides other connotations about the geographical und cultural context in which I live now, that is Italy.
For me, this work has been a means to maintain the red wire that binds me to Fridas land, Mexico,
where I lived for 22 years. I wanted to dedicate her an alternative biography, an homage not only to
the great artist she is, but simoultaneously to the extraordinary woman she was, to the striking human
The series, started in 1996, is a work in progress, and consists for the moment of 173 little boxes, 100
of which will be in exhibition next year in Berlin, as a gift for Frida's centennial in 2007."