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Oct 11 to 16, 2005
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"Frida and Herself is an experimental look at the life and art of famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. This piece is a visual work that combines puppetry, movement, live performers, image and text. Its scenic montage follows the general arc of her life but makes no attempt to create a linear biography. Rather the work explores themes, images and emotions that bubble under the surface of the liminal world that Kahlo crated in her art.
Seamlessly combining the ancient and the innovative in terms of stagecraft and technique with elements of the tender and absurd, "Frida and Herself" delves deeply and creatively into the rich world of Frida Kahlo. The work is a production of visual, non-linear theatre that looks at the artist's life in a series of movement and image-based scenes. "Frida and Herself" incorporates various styles of puppetry* (please see Mediums) and movement integrated with live actors as a symphony of theatrical languages in a contemporary articulation of post-modern theatrical art. This work is a continuing experiment with an interdisciplinary approach to theatrical performance with a focus on integrating puppetry into a new stage work with live performers. Its' visual based aesthetic relies heavily on image and movement as the text to create meaning through physical approaches to the theatre art.
"Frida and Herself" has been in independent development since the summer of 2003. It has received two workshop presentations over two years.
Why Frida Kahlo?
The image and iconography of Frida Kahlo are legendary. Her incredible life and its intimately entwined art provide rich and fertile ground to function as a metaphor for larger expressions of human experience, struggle and triumph. As an artist, Frida Kahlo was certainly one of the most unique and radical painters and personalities of the 20th century. Her work centred on a complex dialogue with herself and this was expressed in the large number of self-portraits she created over her career. Frida presented herself to the world as a dichotomy that was constantly trying to reconcile itself; she was simultaneously mythic yet domestic, composed yet fragile, festive yet anguished, strong yet vulnerable.
Frida is the duality of us all, the ultimate representation of the soul seeking unity, wholeness and meaning through its potential and ability to reflect, observe, explore and question ones reality and situation. Her work represents a fierce dialogue with the layers of the self that played with notions of the observer and the observed, constructed gaze and subversively inverted concepts of public/private physical and psychological space. Frida is the palette, her art the icon and her life the metaphor with which this work celebrates the human spirit, its' quest into the unknown and the desire to explore what lies beyond with the bravery to open new vistas into human experience.
Why Frida Now?
The post September 11th world is a radically different one then the early 20th century one of Frida Kahlo yet her art, message and experience are of even greater importance now as then. The world atmosphere of today is one that is wrought with fear, mistrust and pain. Kahlo is representative of someone who spent her life in the most fearful of circumstances. Throughout her life she confronted mortality on numerous levels ranging from illnesses and accidents to miscarriages, abortions and surgeries. She claims that she "paints herself because she is so often alone and that she is the subject she knows best." Her portraits articulate a composed almost festive exterior punctured and contrasted with an anguished and painful interior. This place of loneliness and fear is intensely raw and human, more so in the present day then ever before as we alienate ourselves from ourselves, from each other, from our environment and from our bodies. In the face of obstacle what Kahlo gives us is not surrender, but an intense love and reverence for life. Her life was a total articulation of tragedy yet she never succumbed to the existence of a victim. She stands as an expression of hope and a symbol of strength that celebrated life and honoured the inherent power for change with in each human soul.
As a woman and female artist she bravely explored sexuality, fertility, identity, marriage and the physical body as constant themes throughout her work presenting them with a brutal honesty and delicate tenderness that creates the dynamic tension consistent in her art. In her diary she refers to herself as " the one her gave birth to herself, who wrote the most beautiful poem with her life". Frida Kahlo made her life her palette and her canvas her mirror, making statements that were both personal in narrative and universal in nature.