Las Fridas Photographic Exhibition
“From Painter to socialist to fashion icon, Frida Kahlo was celebrated both during her lifetime and decades later after her legacy gave birth to a new generation of Mexican artists”.
Frida Kahlo has long been an influential figure in my life as I admired her strength, unique beauty and how enduring she was. When I was asked to take part in a photography exhibition celebrating Frida of course I said yes. It was an absolute honour to embody such an icon.
Las Fridas, the brain child of local photographer and graphic designer Janette Ortiz, aimed to combine flawless illustrated scenarios with vivid images that capture the essence of the Mexican surrealist painter. Through a series of portraits, Frida was taken out of her traditional context and reborn in the streets of Perth in the modern world in an attempt to reveal her most basic essence. Three models, all different in appearance, were photographed to show how the strength of Kahlo can be embodied within different women and also showed her relevance today.
Janette Ortiz was born and raised in Mexico and first picked up the camera around age 16. Photography because a way of creating and capturing stories which allowed people to engage on both an emotional and visual level. Janette was inspired by Kahlo and could share stories of her family interacting with the significant figure. The exhibition gave Janette a space to pay tribute to the icon in her own way and reinvent her for todays modern woman.
The opening night was great success with many coming together to admire the images and photographs displayed at the Guerrilla Establishment. A video was projected on the wall showing footage of the models in the city as the figure of Kahlo. It was a strange sensation to see myself on loop on a wall, especially with a monobrow. The event was very intimate with great speeches given by a few involved in the project. I enjoyed mingling and discussing with guests why they were drawn to Frida Kahlo.
A little behind the scenes: One of my favourite parts of the whole experience was getting my makeup done. Not because I got to rock one eyebrow and different makeup to what I normally wear, but because myself, Janette and Rana (Pink Makeup Artistry) all got to discuss our backgrounds, lives, family and how we all feel amongst other cultures and places. We shared stories about life from our original cultures, what has changes and stayed the same since living in Australia and differences between our cultures regarding religion, sexuality, art, family, marriage and work. It was amazing to see us all working together, a Mexican, an Israeli and a Pole all brought together by Frida Kahlo. I won’t forget this experience for a very long time. I love how all our differences didn’t matter, we all could work together to create something wonderful. I wish life and society was more like that sometimes.
Janette Ortiz; Photographer and Graphic Designer