Forum for Modern Language Studies
Autobiographical pact, Genette, Gérard, Kahlo, Frida, Lacan, Jacques, Lejeune, Philippe, Self-portraiture
This article examines the relationship between the visual and the textual in Frida Kahlo’s paintings and writings. It argues that an understanding of this relationship would offer a better picture of Kahlo’s oeuvre. The article begins with an examination of the dedicatory inscriptions in the self-portraits, engaging with Gérard Genette’s concept of paratext and Philippe Lejeune’s autobiographical pact, as a prelude to the study of the relationship between text and drawings in the diary. In a close reading of the diary, informed by Jacques Lacan’s theories of subject formation and object relations, the article goes on to show that the workings between the visual and the textual represent the split that constitutes the subject in both the self-portraits and the diary. In the first instance, the subject is riven between seeing oneself and being seen by others. In the second, the subject, partly visualized, partly ‘textualized’ (‘photo-graphié’, as Lacan puts it) constitutes itself through the game of metonymy and metaphor in the chain of signification of the diaristic narrative. Metonymy and metaphor in the diary represent Kahlo’s desire for the Other which Diego embodies for her. The article concludes that the Other plays a generative role in Kahlo’s painted and written self-portraits and that the scenography of the Other contributes to the form and content of the diary as a textual self-portrait.
Reis, Levilson C., "Paratexts to Frida Kahlo's oeuvre: The relationship between the visual and the textual, the self and the other, from the self-portraits to the diary entries" (2012). Modern Languages & Cultures Faculty Scholarship. 17.