Thursday May 24, 2018

Tina Modotti Back in Havana

Exhibition recalls her intense life

Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, 1923

More than 60 black-and-white photographs, taken in the Mexico of the 1930s by Italian revolutionary political activist Tina Modotti (Udine, Italy 1896-Mexico 1942), are currently on view at Havana´s Pabellón Cuba. The exhibition is presented as part of the cultural activities for the 21st International New Latin American Film Festival.

Perhaps best known in the US for her close relationship with modern photography master Edward Weston, Modotti had appeared in plays, operas and Hollywood silent movies in the late 1910s and early 1920s before becoming Weston’s muse. She arrived in Mexico in 1922 and befriended important artists like Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, whom she photographed as he painted public murals. These artists had a strong influence on her concept of photography as a weapon to serve the revolutionary masses.

In 1923, Modotti joined the Mexican Communist Party, and in 1927 met Cuban revolutionary leader and Federation of University Students president Julio Antonio Mella (1903-1929) [], who had been thrown into exile by the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado. Mella and Modotti had a close personal and political relationship, which ended abruptly on January 10, 1929, when, accompanied by Tina, Mella was assassinated.

Modotti’s photographs depict the turbulent era of the Mexican Revolution, using strongly framed symbols like hands, faces, women soldiers, weapons, sickles, hammers, and other tools. Her camera also recorded Mella´s sensuous, naked body, as well as the last page he wrote before his murder.

More about Tina:

Tinísima, Elena Poniatowska

Galery of Images: