Artist, adoptive mother, spy, civil rights activist – all rolled into one fabulous persona that is Josephine Baker. What an extraordinary life she had!
Josephine Baker is an American-born French dancer, singer and actress who enjoyed instant fame through her erotic and almost nude dancing on stage in the conservative 1920s. She married four times and had bisexual relations with women she met during the tour of shows, including the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. During World War II she volunteered to spy against the Nazis as an honorable correspondent for the French resistance movement in her adoptive country. She helped many to get visas and passports to escape Nazi persecution as well as smuggled secrets written in invisible ink on her music sheets. Unable to have children of her own due to an emergency hysterectomy, she adopted 12 multi-ethnic orphans she called her Rainbow Tribe. In a racially divided America, she would insist to perform only to a mixed audience. She supported the cause of the American Civil Rights Movement speaking in rally beside Martin Luther King. Ms. Baker is definitely a woman progressively ahead of her times.
Created these triples of her portraits against images of gender stereotypes which I believe she herself being a principled woman (a real feminist I would say) did not subscribe to such as sexy, martyr, virgin, housewife, monster, sex object, beautiful, submissive, nagger, caged, muted, etc. Shot third layer with street vignettes.
I’m just thinking now that a reproductive health bill is up on the table of Philippine Congress, Ms. Baker would certainly have voted for its passage. She would definitely be pro-RH Bill. As an empowered woman, she would have asserted the woman’s rights to be in control and make decisions for her own body and reproductive health.