On September 16 Artes de Mexico en Utah blanketed the city with its Viva Frida! exhibition, which popped up in a variety of venues. The main exhibition continues through October 20 at the atrium of Salt Lake’s Main Library. The informational placards and historical photographs are strategically placed to catch the attention of visitors, regardless of what floor of the library they are headed to, or if they are just passing through.
On Thursday Viva Frida! continues its programming with a special film screening and art talk. Screening in the library’s auditorium at 5:15, Tina in Mexico tells the story of Tina Modotti, Mexico’s femme fatale during the 1920s (it was Tina Modotti, played by Ashley Judd, who danced the sexy dance with Frida in the Salma Hayak Frida movie).
An Italian immigrant to the U.S. who had acted in silent films, Modotti arrived in Mexico City in 1923 at the side of her lover, famous (married) photographer Edward Weston. It was at a raucous party at Modotti’s house that Frida Kahlo met her future husband Diego Rivera, whose affair with Modotti a year earlier had broken up his marriage to Lupe Marin.
Modotti, an independent women who wore pants and had lovers, was too hot for Mexico to handle. In 1929, she was accused of murdering her Cuban boyfriend, and just months later, of attempting to assassinate the president. In 1930, the woman every man in Mexico was in love with was deported. When she returned to Mexico nine years later, no one could recognize her. She had given up art and had devoted herself to the Soviet cause. The man in her life was a vicious assassin with many aliases who was faithful only to Soviet intelligence.
The 2002 documentary on Modotti’s life in Mexico sets the stage for the arrival of Frida Kahlo on the art scene in 1929 and for a discussion of what challenges Frida Kahlo, Tina Modotti, and other women artists, and women in general, faced in Mexico during the times of Frida.
Following the film (7 pm) Dr. Susie Porter Associate Professor of History and Gender Studies at the University of Utah, and Shannon Dame, an MA Candidate in Art History at BYU who has written her thesis on Modotti will be discussing 20th Century Mexican Women Artists.
The film and discussion are funded by the Utah Humanities Council and are in partnership with the Utah Humanities Council’s 14th Annual Book Festival.