I was about 14 years old when I first noticed Frida Kahlo’s art at my friend Rebecka’s place. It was a print of the painting “Árbol de la Esperanza/Tree of Hope”, with a wounded Frida lying on her side only showing her back, and another Frida sitting strong by her side. At that moment it was her pain that spoke to me. But after looking up more of her art, it was the duality and the constant struggle with her identity that captured me forever, especially the painting “Las Dos Fridas/The Two Fridas”– showing one Frida in a European-style dress and the other in traditional Mexican clothing. One Frida representing her European heritage from her father’s side, and the other representing the heritage of her mother and Mexico.
Frida’s art and herself have since that moment been a very present inspiration for my art – and when I heard that the Gothenburg Museum of Art was hosting a 3 month exhibition of both Frida’s and Diego Rivera’s art, I think my heart skipped a beat – and naturally we were there for the opening this last Sunday!
Walking around the exhibit with Rebecka, I believe was the closest I’ve felt to being starstruck. To see the actual paintings that they had created was amazing – maybe a bit too fascinating, since a guard had to warn us not to get that close or we would set off the alarm… But anyone who loves to paint themselves will know the feeling of seeing your idol’s art that close, close enough to touch (not that I ever would … ). To be able to see the shadowing, the colors, the detail of the brush strokes – everything that a picture can never truly capture
Needless to say that I can’t wait to visit again – prepared with a sketchbook this time…
Ok, so Gothenburg isn’t really called Sweden’s Rainy City, I think a small town outside of Gothenburg is called that, but it doesn’t really matter – it should be called Sweden’s Rainy City. I’ve spent most of the time these last two months walking around in my rain boots, that I initially loved when first purchased but everything has a limit – except for the rainy days of Gothenburg, it seems.
Winter is coming closer every day, but if you’re thinking how lucky we are that we will soon be covered in snow – you’d better think again: Gothenburg is better known for its slask (what we call the poor remnants of snow after it has almost been washed away by the heavy rain, only leaving a slippery slush to remind us that Xmas came and went). Not that I’m really complaining, I don’t really like snow. But I also don’t like walking up and down slippery hills all winter…
In other words – I wish I was sipping on a mojito under a palm tree…
In Argentina they said “Hay que comer para vivir, pero nosotros vivimos para comer” – “You have to eat to live, but we live to eat.” It took me weeks to be able to have dinner with my family when visiting, because I was so full after having eaten all day already: breakfast, and then something to go with the mate – lunch (which was more like a early dinner, really) and then something to go with the mate again – and why not something to picár before dinner?
This is in no way specific to Argentina – the portions I was served when eating at restaurants in New York made me feel full just by looking at them, and in Sweden we throw away perfectly fine food because it’s either been in the refrigerator “a day too many” or because we are so full.
At the same time, one billion people are starving all over the world. Because of rising food prices (in the latest years because of the increasing use of bio- and agrofuel) poverty and natural distasters, parents have to tuck their children in wondering if they will be able to provide them with food the next day. It should be a given that everyone in the world has the right to food security – that they at all times have economic and physical access to healthy, nutricious food for themselves and their families.
Yesterday was the first birthday I celebrated as Jennifer Larancuent, and not as Jennifer Turano. Leaving my old name behind and taking my husband’s name when we got married was not an obvious choice for me. My husband was surprised when I first announced that I would change my name – not because of the feministic ideals we both share, but because he knew how much that name once meant to me. Not so much because of the family it belongs to, but because of the culture it represents.
Growing up in a Swedish small-town with a Swedish mother, brother, and stepfather, that name was the only tangible link to my Latino heritage. No one could accuse me of trying to be Swedish or try to bully me because of my “otherness” when I proudly kept my father’s last name. “Latino” is the closest I have come to find to a category that could represent my mixed heritage. I don’t identify as an Argentine and I don’t identify as a Swede – growing up as a second generation immigrant, most of “us” identify more with having a transnational identity that knows no borders. Latino is so diverse, spanning over such a big area, that it is the best word to describe my cultural identity. So I held on to that name because at the time, it meant something to me.
A few weeks ago I came across this interesting article about how we just assume that the woman will take her future husband’s name when they marry, not even asking her if she will keep her own name or not. But if we really are going to acknowledge the patriarchal structures causing that assumption, shouldn’t we also ask why she would keep the name that, most likely, was her father’s? The decision to change my last name had little to do with feminism or politics, and more to do with a wish for my new family to share the same last name (when I was a kid, my mother, my brother and I all had different last names), and to rid myself of my old one. Because in the end, that last name had come to represent my father. If there has been a man in my life who has played the role of the old fashioned patriarch it was, as in most families, my father …
Many hold the view that taking the husband’s name is like reducing yourself to a thing that is being marked by its owner: “property of (insert husband’s name)”. For me, that was what it had come to feel like keeping my father’s name. Choosing my husband’s name, a name that he had chosen a few years ago for the same reasons as I had for keeping my father’s (my husband grew up having his mother’s Swedish maiden name), was just that: a choice I had made for myself, instead of keeping the name someone else had passed down to me.
So much has happened lately that I feel I outgrew Chennifer and have to leave her behind. With all the new changes in my life, including getting married and soon moving to a new city, I feel like I’m sort of starting over. There are so many exciting things ahead so I decided to start a new blog, and this is where you are now.
♥♥♥ Hope to see you back here soon ♥♥♥