Are art and health connected? Sigmund Freud famously considered art, and creative acts in general, as a means whereby individuals could sublimate their neurosis, thus finding a ‘cure’ for illness, and building on these ideas Ingmar Bergman once used the metaphor of art as a pearl that is created through an individual’s efforts to fend off the anxieties and pain of life. Carl Jung on the other hand reversed the equation, positing instead that it was the artist who was the cure to the ills of society. To Jung, the social significance of art is precisely that ‘it is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is most lacking’.
Both theoretical frameworks have often been employed to discuss the life and work of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, who famously suffered a tragic accident at age 18 and never fully recovered, dying after having had a leg amputated in July 1954, aged 46. While she is most famous for her many self-portraits, much of her work in fact carefully documents her experience with pain and illness, and thus a possible relationship between art and health.
Considering the relevance of Kahlo’s search nowadays, this presentation introduces a short animated video on Kaho’s life and work, made by children between 8 and 12 years old at Comunicacion Comunitaria, a civil association based in Mexico City, devoted to helping disadvantaged children to become producers of media content, as well as critical consumers of the media. The presentation seeks to trace the link between Kahlo’s engagement with painting as a source of healing, and the children’s engagement with animated video to, in a way, also address pressing social needs impacting their health.
The presentation ends suggesting other ways in which film studies can become relevant to health humanities, mainly through cognitivism.