Frida and I go way back, to ancient times where she wasn’t this popular icon of feminism and empowerment she’s become ever after the movie with Salma Hayek. I had seen a panel of hers, a monstruous affair with a crippled woman at the center held aloft in the sky and held together by braces – an icon of pain bursting forth in a starfield of passion.
Having grown in two cultures, I have always felt the duality of the passionate Italian and the rule-bound German curse me. As I saw the panel, it struck a chord within me, almost talking to this conflicted side of mine, speaking of the inner anguish that comes from having to live by two very different sets of rules.
Turns out, I found out much later, that Frida had that thing in common with me: she was the daughter of a German from Pforzheim and of a Mexican of mostly indigenous descent. That gave me an instant connection with her that has a degree I cannot share with most artists, as dual upbringing is quite rare.
It so comes that, because of the personal nature of my connection to her, I am always surprised by the popularity she enjoys. The exhibit at the SFMOMA, then, had all the trappings of the most popular ones: long lines, timed entrance (“Do you want to get in at 2:30 or 3:00?”), a creepy creeping line that snakes its way through the exhibit.