Monday, December 22, 2008
Tina Modotti & The Tangled Web
Tina Modotti (1896-1942)
Mella’s Typewriter, 1928
Modotti was Italian but did most of her photography in Mexico in the 1920s, where she was friends with Frida Kahlo, among other interesting people.
This gorgeous photograph has a different impact now that I've just learned that "Mella" was Modotti's murdered comrade and lover Julio Antonio Mella, a Cuban Marxist revolutionary exiled to Mexico. On January 10, 1929, he was assassinated, in a murky political crime, possibly by agents of the Cuban government.
A political revolutionary, Modotti worked for social justice in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.
Wondering if she met Robert Capa and Gerta Taro (post below) in Spain, I googled the trio.
I found that, according to Margaret Hooks' biography Tina Modotti, Modotti hung out with Constancia de la Mora, who was head of the Foreign Ministry's press censorhsip department, where Capa and Taro would have come, and that Modotti met many of the foreign correspondents.
Ah! Here. I asked Google to translated this [clicked on "translate this page"], so it reads something like LOLcat, but the author contends that Modotti and Taro's paths did cross, at least once, at a Communist Party function:
"In July 1937, at the 2nd Congress to defend the culture, in the midst of the war in Valencia and Madrid took place, there was an encounter between two photographers. One of them, Tina MODOTTI should die in 1942 in Mexico, the other, Gerta Taro - actually Gerta Pohorylle - would be a few days after this encounter, crushed by a tank in front of Brunete killed."
The original, in German, is Kämpfer und Freunde der Spanischen Republik [Fighters and Friends the Spanish Republic]: Modotti und Taro, von Christiane Barckhausen.
I'm just rummaging around in history and images here, marveling at the threads that weave into and out of everybody's lives.
A mundane example of such interweaving is an emergency e-mail I got this afternoon from Momo, whom I only know because of blogging. She's leaving town tomorrow and at the last minute her cat-feeding arrangements fell through. So, it's not civil war, thank god, but I am pitching in to help.