Frida Kahlo: Trauma, Abjection, and Affect

Frida Kahlo and Affect

Kahlo’s body is a: “metaphor for the totality of her life”. According to Alonso, the body’s mission is to project hostile emotions towards the audience; in the same sense Kahlo’s depiction of the body best expresses torment, where blood is the greatest articulation of violence on her body. Kahlo’s artworks seem to draw pleasure from the audience in a masochistic way. For instance, blood portrays disaster on the one hand, and on the other signifies purification in the sense that, upon contemplation, the viewer: “releases contained emotions that purge his or her consciousness”. The reflection of the water in What the Water Gave Me is her life and death, happiness and sadness, comfort and pain, past and present. According to Friis “the uneasy sensation of direct address and the tensions between public and private and between animus and anima lend their work the unique ability to make us feel like it is about us, while insisting, quite forcefully, that it is not”.

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