Frida Kahlo in a hospital bed, drawing her corset with help of a mirror by Juan Guzmán, 1951
Frida Kahlo wore plaster corsets for most of her life because her spine was too weak to support itself. She painted them, naturally, covering them with pasted scraps of fabric and drawings of tigers, monkeys, plumed birds, a blood-red hammer and sickle, and streetcars like the one whose handrail rammed through her body when she was eighteen years old. The corsets remain to this day in her famous blue house—their embedded mirrors reflecting back our gazes, their collages bringing the whole world into stricture. In one, an open circle has been carved into the plaster like a skylight near the heart.
Frida’s corsets hardened around unspeakable longing. They still frame an invisible woman, still naked in her want, still calling to deaf men in the rain. I find them beautiful. She would have given anything, perhaps, to have a body that rendered them irrelevant. [ftp]