Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait on the Borderline Between Mexico and the United States
I love this painting so much! I’ve been thinking about it all day and wanted to share some of my thoughts about it on here…
Through this amazing work of art, Kahlo communicates so many ideas about nationalism, culture, identity, and economics.
As the American flag burns up in smoke stacks rooted to the concrete slabs that represent both industrialism and capitalism, Kahlo stands with one foot rooted on each side of the border. To the left, we see Mexico with a natural connection to the Earth (plant roots and soil), a strong sense of culture, and a wide range of color. Kahlo keeps the Mexican flag close to her body and holds strongly onto her own sense of Mexican identity. To the right, the United States is artificially connected to the ground through electric wire, pointing to the prioritization over capital and profit above nature and life of all kinds. The stark contrast between left and right indicates how that same contrast exists between American and Mexican identities & cultures during this time period.
Although Kahlo created this painting in 1932, many of her ideas and messages are still very relevant today. One thing that does really stand out to me is how the Mexican side of the border is now starting to resemble the right side of this image, through the implementation of a structural adjustment program, the presence of multinational corporations, and the establishment of hundreds of factories. Although there is a significant effort by American forces to eradicate Mexican culture and history, I ultimately believe these attempts will not succeed. As this painting, and many of Kahlo’s other pieces show, the roots that connect someone to the earth and to their ancestry are too strong to destroy with factory lines or sky scrapers.