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The Thoughts of Frida Kahlo Today / 4 November 2012

Something we activists have in common

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Frida Kahlo is a dead disabled woman. Frida Kahlo may also be a living woman of colour. I am reading some of the latters recent thoughts. Whilst the name survives the grave Frida Kahlo seems to be very much alive. These initial thoughts come from An Interview.

Frida Kahlo: "... the most influential galleries and museums exhibited almost no women artists. When we showed the figures around, some said it was an issue of quality, not prejudice. Others admitted there was discrimination, but considered the situation hopeless. Everyone in positions of power curators, critics, collectors, the artists themselves passed the buck. The artists blamed the dealers, the dealers blamed the collectors, the collectors blamed the critics, and so on. We decided to embarrass each group by showing their records in public. Those were the first posters we put up in the streets of SoHo in New York". But what of disabled women artists?

Frida Kahlo: "Calling a grown woman a girl can imply she's not complete, mature, or grown-up. But we decided to reclaim the word “girl”, so it couldn't be used against us. Gay activists did the same thing with the epithet 'queer'.” As did crips.

Frida Kahlo: "We'd love to be inclusive, but it's not easy to find men willing to work without getting paid or getting credit for it". Pay remains important for Disabled Artists too.

Frida Kahlo: "The next time art critic Michael Kimmelman pans a show that actually includes a fair number of women and artists of color like his hysterical rant against the Whitney Biennial of 1993 we're going to send him a year's supply of Midol". Nice to see you prescribing medication for menstruation. The norm here is to go for diazepam as if the ranters out there are all mad and want quietening down. I find this insulting to the mad amongst us but beneficial for the ranters.

Frida Kahlo: "If a masterpiece can only be made by a master and a master is defined as “a man having control or authority,” you can see what we're up against. Considering the history of slavery, we suggest changing the words to 'massa' and 'massa's piece'. Alan Holdsworth said care homes are Plantations. Workfare aims to make disabled people the new slaves.

Frida Kahlo: "Just last year, Robert Hughes, who in the mid-80's claimed that gender was no longer a limiting factor in the art world, reviewed a show of American art in London for Time and said 'You don't have to be a Guerrilla Girl to know that there weren't enough women in the show'. That's progress, even though Hughes reneged on a promise to apologize in this book for his past insensitivity". You have to keep your enemies close to you. take David Cameron and his talk on disability based on having a disabled son and then look at his policies. Not that I would want to be too close to that man.

Today I discovered the Guerrilla Girls. I immediately fell for their work, messsage, energy, attitude and activism. It rang a bell with me as someone who defines as a disabled artist and a disabled activist. Unlike the Guerrilla Girls i'm yet to reconcile these parts of me. I recommend checking out the Guerilla Girls for Inspiration.

Keywords: frida kahlo,guerilla girls