At this symposia we want to focus on both the cultural politics of Kahlos work and her reputation.
The role of Frida Kahlos work and the construction of her persona within contemporary culture is in itself indicative of the complexities of the interaction of the national with the global. She is now one of the few widely recognised female artists and one whose image informs global perceptions of Mexico and what it means to be Mexican. Her work has traditionally been seen as expressive of the personal pain of a unique woman on to which collective (essentially female) audiences can project their own experiences; other aspects of her identity have been overshadowed by this emphasis. Her role as a political activist and her ability to comment upon, rather than be a vehicle for, the expression of the historical moment is frequently subsumed beneath this desire to empathise with Frida the woman.By 2005 Kahlos life and work has come to represent more than her contribution to the construction of a post-revolutionary Mexican cultural identity or the aesthetic issues and debates which underpin twentieth century art. Kahlo has become a phenomenon through which to discuss far wider issues of cultural meaning and importance to twenty-first century creative practice.This conference explores these wider meanings. It aims to look at the genealogy of the Kahlo phenomenon as we encounter it today and at its influence on different areas of late twentieth and early twenty-first century culture. We want to allow for an exploration of Kahlos impact across a range of disciplines and audiences including fine art, design, film, fashion and feminist and post-colonial cultural theory. Themes include: the relationship of Kahlo to the debates around surrealism and the relevance of the exotic and the popular within the construction of ideas of cultural authenticity; Kahlo as an icon of the dispossessed, as an exemplary minority and the impact of this phenomenon on expectations of Mexican and Latino creative practice; and the meanings and appropriations of both the appearance and persona of Frida in film and fashion and the ways in which those meanings have impacted on contemporary consumerist cultures.– Oriana Baddeley and Dominic WillsdonA collaboration with the University of the Arts London, supported by HSBC, with additional support from the Mexican Embassy in London