Sunday, March 17, 2024

Creatures of Time and Circumstance

I missed out on yesterday.  Something got me, some bug, I hope.  I was down, my gut an agony, my body chilled.  I may have had a slight fever.  I didn't leave the house.  The day was one of worry and nada.  My thoughts were dire.  

As evening approached, having eaten nothing, I thought two things might help--chicken soup and beer.  And that is what I had along with a bit of baguette.  

There was no music, no distraction from my bleak and fearful thoughts.  In sickness, I go to the darkest of places.  It wasn't until the chicken soup and beer that I came back to earth a bit climbing up from some under-otherworldly dungeon.  Sitting down to dinner, I turned on the television.  I watched a tutorial on how to do a photo thing that has me inspired.  I am anxious to try it, but I need human sitters to do it.  Where will I get a human?  That is a problem I am not sure I can overcome.  Afterward, I watched another in the series from that woman's van life.  This time, she irritated me.  She is too pretty and I am susceptible.  I realized that she trades in cute hippie cliches.  Travel makes her "heart happy."  Her dilemmas are those of an entitled beautiful young first world woman.  I didn't think I could watch her anymore.  

But then. . . holy smokes, folks. . . I put on the documentary "Frida" (link).  I thought I'd view a bit of it before putting on "American Fiction," but I couldn't quit watching.  

There were simply too many elements of attraction.  First, of course, Kahlo's art and the AI animation of it.  It was good.  Some people hate AI.  I don't.  Watching her drawings, sketches, notebooks, and paintings come alive was fascinating.  And though I do not enjoy reading a movie, it was narration, not dialog and much slower and easier to follow without losing the visual aspects of what was onscreen.  It was not really a distraction at all.  

The story, a biography, was not what I thought I knew.  Kahlo speared with a bus handrail in a bizarre traffic accident as a teen.  The surgeries, the braces and immobility that brought a lifetime of pain.  Meeting Diego Rivera at eighteen and changing her wardrobe, her life.  And there is Rivera, eyes as large as Picasso's, a smiling walrus of an artist painting murals.  Film footage of Zapata and the revolution that was essentially televised in movie theaters around the world.  Old Mexico, a world of tradition and mystery, religion and witchery, a land inhabited by spirits.  Mexico City and its mish-mash of modernity, peasants and primitive crafts, formal suits and traditional peasant garb.  

Viva Mexico!  

Kahlo and Rivera.  The film both reveals and unravels the popular myths that have grown about the two.  They were Bohemians who lived lavishly,  monied communists with romantic concepts.  They marry.  Rivera is sexually unfaithful.  He loves beautiful women.  Kahlo takes on lovers.  She is a homosexual Rivera says and is devastated by her infidelities with men.  There is Trotsky fleeing Russia and Europe falling in love with Kahlo who tires of him.  There are unconscious inconsistencies.  Rivera is invited to exhibit at MoMA.  They fall in love with NYC.  "I can't believe it was built by humans," she writes, but she hates the wealthy patrons of Rivera's art.  She is a wife who copies Rivera's artistic style.  She is a fashion icon.  Then Detroit and the murals at the Institute of Art where he paints his revolutionary murals under the watchful eye of Edsel Ford.  Then Rockefeller Center where Rivera's mural of Lenin is torn down.  The money runs out and the return to Mexico where they divorce and Kahlo begins to paint seriously in her own style.  

She is not famous.  She works to support herself.  She lives with pain, surgeries, braces for her back.  Her work gets recognition in the U.S. and Europe and she remarries Rivera.  They are a traditional couple.  They are not.  I think once again about the difficulty of living on a tightrope.  I think again about love and true love and what that means and how hard it is and why it is gone.  

I stop at various points in the film to send links to my friends who I think will enjoy the documentary.  I send one to Travis, a man well travelled in Mexico and as enamored of it as I, the history, the art, the literature. . . .  He who has suggested I should not "crash" the fabulous art party a mere mile from my house.  It is o.k.  I have been too sick to go anyway.  He sends me a video of the fabulous music trio playing in the garden.  I write back simply, "Sure."  I am sick, isolated, alone.  My broken body has ached all along with the Kahlo film.  

Kahlo was never the famous icon she would become in the years after her death.  I delighted in the revelations the film so gently illustrated, the inconsistencies and dichotomies and flaws of Rivera and Kahlo's lives.  As Rivera says so profoundly, we are creations of our time.  In other times, under different circumstances, we may have believed and behaved differently.  


I am glad I travelled before the internet, before the great unwashed hordes descended, before even the most primitive places were restructured by cell phones.  The internet has done much.  It has undone much as well.  I like it all.  I want it all.  Selavy.  

I am hoping to feel better today.  I will try to take a walk and see.  I get scared when I am sick.  Terrified.  I like the world. . . even still.  The sun is shining now and the crowds will have grown downtown.  That is where I will walk just to see.  I will go alone and maybe take a camera with me this time, though I do not like to photograph in my own hometown.  Maybe I won't take any photos.  I don't know.  Feeling better would be enough.  Having a human sitter so that I might experiment with the new technique I have learned would be even better.  

She was 100% Mexican.  I adored making her pictures.  Yes. . . Viva Mexico.  

No comments:

Post a Comment