Frida & Anita


1924. Berlin, Germany. Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, traveling to Germany to connect with her father’s German/ Jewish roots, visits Berlin for the first time to experience the communist-inspired Proletarian Theater Movement. Late one evening, Frida finds herself meandering the streets of Berlin.  She is searching for something to satisfy her curiosity, although unsure of what this is. Frida finds herself at the well-known La Garconne nightclub, where the infamous queer chanteuse Anita Berber is performing onstage as she walks in. Having never seen a woman perform nude before, Frida is moved and mesmerised by Anita’s sheer gall and direct intensity. She makes a promise to herself that she will not go home alone this evening, and that she will only go home with Anita.


The experimental video piece “Frida & Anita” imagines itself to be an intimate and personal document of one evening in 1924 when Frida Kahlo and Anita Berber spend the night together.   As the video unfolds, one learns that this one-night-stand between these two artists, later appropriated as queer feminist icons, is not just about sex, but a discussion of sexuality, gender, cultural identity, between two people deeply invested in the idea that decadence is one of the ultimate revolutionary acts against the bourgeoisie.

In 1924 Frida Kahlo, 18 years old, was residing at home in Mexico City with her parents, learning the family business, photography, which many believe was a huge influence to her becoming an artist. Before her tragic accident that famously inspired her art practice, young Frida was working for her father while also interning for a draftsman in Mexico City.  Considered to be one of “the wildest women of the Weimar Republic,” by 1924 Anita Berber had taken Berlin’s underground stages by storm. Her audacious dances, performances, and film appearances were both radical and scandalous, and it is said that she was the first woman to appear naked on the German stage. Historically, it is clear, that there was no possible way for Frida Kahlo and Anita Berber to have met in 1924. Anita Berber collapsed on the stage in 1929, and died in Berlin shortly after, while Frida Kahlo did not reach Europe until 1939, when she had her first solo exhibition in Paris, as well as her well-known affair with Josephine Baker.

But what if they had met? A fleeting touch. A graze between bodies in motion. A flash in time. The moment in which eyes lock. An instant where knowing smiles are exchanged. An effleurement; charged ephemeral experiences. Queer author Samuel Delany recalls cruising under the Williamsburg Bridge in the early 1950’s, and later finding out the man he had met that evening had been artist Jack Smith. “Frida & Anita” re-imagines a chance meeting of two women, who both became cultural figures representative and consequently superficial indicators of their cultures. Throughout their art careers, both Frida and Anita were heavily invested in their public personas, consciously performing the social climate they both influenced as politically- and erotically-charged figures. Modernist witches of their time, Kahlo and Berber were openly bi- sexual, political radicals, and married to their work which ultimately destroyed them. As artists they ruptured cultural boundaries, while troubling gender and sexuality; Anita through her fringe dances, which championed anti-Puritanism and sexual liberation, while with painting, Frida unapologetically forced the world to look at her. “Frida & Anita” illustrates one hot night in a historically radical time when decadence was seen as an act against the dominant class, and art and sex were used as tools for social consciousness.

“Frida & Anita” will be a short experimental narrative piece shot in High Definition, with photography inspired by early German Expressionist silent film. Created to look like Berlin at its heyday during the 1920’s, “ Frida & Anita” will be shot in contemporary Berlin, pushing the definition and essence of historical re-enactment. This video is shot as a silent film of its day,  with hand-drawn Spanish (spoken by Frida) and German (spoken by Anita) inter-titles with English subtitles underneath.

“Frida & Anita” is a political fantasy, intersecting the lives of two queer radicals who both left a huge dent in history, and clearly inspired artists who came after them. They both ruptured the immediate socio-political landscapes around them, defining, breaking, and re-defining the social classes with awkward grace and impenetrable energy, leaving what became both an art-historical and social-political legacy of work.


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