Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Frida Kahlo didn’t live all that long ago. She’s become lionized as a painter, feminist, communist, Mexican icon, as a person living with a disability in a time when that wasn’t something to be spoken of. She was fierce and boundary defying.
The show “Frida by Ishiuchi Miyako” opened this month in London, documenting Kahlo’s own possessions in a stark and intimate series of photographs. The story goes that Diego Rivera locked away Frida’s belongings in a room in their home after her death with instructions that they not be disturbed until 15 years after his death. The room was finally opened up 2004, and these photos are some of the public’s first glimpses at these fragments of Frida’s life.
While her clothing are undeniably fascinating, it was a photo of two bottles of Revlon nail polish that struck me the most– they look nearly identical to bottles I own, smudged and half-empty. It’s a reminder that while the Frida Kahlo we tend to think of today has become something of a symbol, she was a very real woman first.