The Frida Kahlo exhibition closes tonight. I got a text message late last night saying 400,000 people have come through the museum since the show opened; which means in the last three months alone. Three hundred and forty thousand of those people have purchased the special tickets to Frida Kahlo.
The final day of the exhibition will see artist & curator René Yañez‘s Pasión por Frida tableaux vivants (living paintings), happening most of the day in the Schwab room, with Frida lookalikes enacting many of Kahlo’s most famous pictures. I’ve also heard there will be Frida-alikes taking tea in the cafe, wandering the galleries, and washing up in the ladies’. The months of the exhibition have seen a lot of people of every age and gender passing through dressed up to look like Frida, and sometimes the gesture has been camp, but mostly it reflects a deep devotion to this artist whose work speaks so profoundly to so many.
The dress Frida affected (she started wearing the traditional clothes in her early 20s) was a highly constructed performance (and in part the long skirts helped hide her physical ailments). It was also a statement, a political one, of pride in indigenous Mexican culture, and as many readers will know, the regional costume Frida adopted was of the matriarchal community of Tehuana in southern Mexico. It’s worth noting too that many of our visitors arriving in the colorful dress we so closely identify with Frida Kahlo were not “in costume” at all.
Christo Oropeza, one of the Information Desk assistants who has been working so hard all summer with so many people streaming in for the exhibition, interviewed this woman about her dress:
“I’m from Juchitan, Oaxaca and it’s an honor for me to see people from other countries appreciating the works of a Mexican painter: Frida Kahlo. The way I dress is the way my townfellows, my mother and sisters and I dress every day and we appreciate that Frida showed to the world our beautiful and colorful typical dresses.” – Elsa de Gyves (July 20, 2008)