The Fire Never Dies: The Tina Modotti Project

The Fire Never Dies: The Tina Modotti Project by Carmen Aguirre 

photo by Tina Moddotti

“What exactly is the purpose of art in the face of fascism? Can art serve the poor, and if so, how?”

In Fire Never Dies: The Tina Modotti Project, Carmen Aguirre is tackling the dialectic between art and revolution by excavating Tina Modotti’s life and art, and, in so doing, reflecting on our own lives through hers. This Italian photographer and her revolutionary art thrived in Mexico City in the 1920s.  She was Frida Kahlo’s lover and posed for Diego Rivera’s murals. After seven years of photography, she abandoned her art to join the anti-fascist cause in Europe. Raised in a working-class family, Tina’s legacy is one of dedication to justice and equality, and the four hundred photographs she left behind. Carmen is compelled by Tina’s struggle to reconcile her artistic practice and intimate life with her political commitment.

The play consists of ten episodes performed by a six-actor ensemble. Each episode will differ stylistically: film noir when Tina is in 1930s Berlin spying on the Nazis for the Soviets, naturalism when she is at a 1920s party in Mexico City, catwalking when characters are introduced on a runway, etc. The thematic thread is: how do we carry our ideals forward and remain whole?

In December 2022, we embark on a two-week workshop at Progress Lab that will end with a public performance. The text will be workshopped on its feet, integrating projections of Modotti’s photographs, Kahlo’s paintings, and Rivera’s murals, and in collaboration with a choreographer explore the movement demands of each episode.

In our current global conjuncture, it is urgent to tell the story of a working-class woman artist and revolutionary because it holds a light to what is possible.