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Frida Kahlo

the broken column

1944

Using the power of analogy

In 1944, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo had already been suffering from shooting pains for 20 years. As a teenager, she was the victim of a terrible tram accident: her body was pierced by an iron bar, leaving her spine irreparably damaged. Since then, she has undergone dozens of surgeries and spent months bedridden, her torso encased in plaster or leather corsets, with no hope of recovery. So much so that suffering has become, in his own words, "a condition of his existence".

In The Broken Column , she takes up an impossible challenge: to give an account of this permanent torture. But how to say the pain in image? How to make the nature of his illness understood at first glance? Frida Kahlo responds with analogy: by replacing her spine with an antique column in ruins, she speaks both of her fragility and the threat of fatal degradation. The column of a monument is intended to support it: if it collapses, the whole building collapses. This is exactly what Frida Kahlo experiences on a daily basis: the suffering... and the fear that her back will give way definitively.

What we can take away:

It is difficult to communicate on complex subjects. For lack of time or words to say things simply, we often opt for technical and convoluted speeches, without really worrying about their impact on our interlocutors. Using analogies gives concreteness to our ideas and ensures their immediate understanding.

Related topic: Communication
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