It’s always a thrill to rifle through other people’s bits and bobs, even more so if that other person is Frida Kahlo. Thanks to a series of images by Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako we can do just that, taking a startlingly intimate-feeling journey through the particulars of the artist. The photographs, which are going on show in May at London’s Michael Hoppen gallery, were captured in 2013 and what makes them feel so eerie is perhaps the photographer’s diligent, cataloging approach to her subject matter. It’s telling that Ishiuchi knew little about the work of Frida, perhaps giving a stance which could be more critical and more focussed on the objects themselves rather than the meanings it’s so easy to imbue them with.
Sat alone and motionless, pieces like the sunglasses or a limp dress give clues about their wearer, but also evoke ideas of transience and change; themes that have run throughout Ishuichi’s previous projects. In looking at the pieces from Frida’s life, we see how clothes give so many clues about their owners. Frida was noted for having elaborate outfits, getting more and more ostentatious as her health deteriorated. When her leg was amputated in 1953, she created a beautiful boot decorated with Chinese embroidery as a little bell. Her costume was at once a disguise, an armour and a decorative act of defiance; and Ishiuchi’s images are the perfect tribute to that.
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