Revisitations in Modern and Contemporary Creative Media
Oriana Baddeley Last Rites from Frida Kahlo to Teresa Margolles
: Mexicanness and Visualizing the Politics of Victimhood The Mexican Revolution of 1910–1919 produced a generation of artists fasci- nated with the particularities of their own changing world. In the art of the period shared narratives emerged which focused audiences on the injustices of the colonial past and the marginalization felt in what was perceived to be a Eurocentric present. The visual manifestations of that revolutionary present became the stage on which artists could act out the cultural politics of a nation in conf lict. Within this context, definitions of national culture ranged from simplistic stereotypes to complicated attempts at reconciling the political tensions of a racially divided post-colonial society. Depending on the particularities and contingency of an artist’s work, dif ferent constituencies were cast as oppressed or oppressor and successive, often gendered, narratives were developed to explain the historical traumas of Mexican history. Within this accepted language of representation the image of the victim took on a particularly important role in articulating a new secular narrative of martyrdom. The tradition of church murals that had served as a precedent for the new ‘peoples art’ had to be stripped of its literal relationship to Christian teaching but the tropes of sacrifice and punishment surfaced again and again within the mythologizing of the key themes of the Revolution, in competition with the more literal refer- ences to Christian martyrdom utilized by counter-revolutionary factions representing the Christian resistance to forced secularization.1 Frequently 1 The rhetoric of martyrdom was particularly prominent in the...
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