As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
she is keeping a diary exclusively for this web site
Sign-up for Newsletter

The Critic

The Rivera Murals

The Casa Azul


Festival Screening

The Trotsky Museum


Profound Mexico


Rain on canvas

The Jury

The Anthropological Museum


Political Correctness

Two Houses

False Virtue

Life is a miracle

Weird Roots

The Meeting

Turtles Can Fly

The Oscars

Luis Barragans house

Back to Diary Index

The Trotsky Museum

The next day we arrive in clear early morning sunshine at the Trotsky Museum , the house where he lived in exile from the Soviet Union after staying with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera for two years following his arrival in Mexico .

There is a photographic exhibition in the entrance hall, with some of the familiar iconic images of Trotsky and some more surprising images as well (feeding his pet rabbits for example); but nothing prepares me for the raw intimacy of the house. When he was assassinated in his workroom (in 1940) his wife Natalya moved out of the house into the guard-house adjacent and left their living quarters as if frozen in time; a snapshot of a moment. And that is what you feel you are walking into.

The house is modest for such a huge historical figure. The floor is painted red; the furniture is rustic and painted yellow. Some of the walls are a faded blue. I move slowly through the rooms, staring at the small, shabby bed; the wardrobe of clothes standing incongruously in the lavatory; the cast-iron bath, the wood-fired boiler; the kitchen with its pots and pans, the library of books (including editions of Simenon, Tolstoy, Gide, Sartre, and D.H Lawrence…. a quite eclectic collection). Behind the desk where he was fatally attacked is a map of Mexico pinned to the wall; faded copies of the Fourth International Newspaper lay spread out on a table. I return to the bathroom and gaze one more time at a shaving brush and a red tin of Colgate tooth-powder, and can hardly believe that I am being allowed this kind of access to such personal evidence; the traces of everyday life that ground an icon in ordinary human existence.

After a while we sit down in the café in the gardens (where Trotsky looked after his rabbits, and replanted cacti he had found on his long walks). I start a conversation with a woman who has recently started working as a guide at the museum. She tells me that Trotsky’s grandson, who lives nearby, and is the treasurer of the museum, occasionally wanders in and chats to people.

Comment on this post

back next
Click to Enlarge

SP and Montse at museum

Click to Enlarge

Trotsky feeding his rabbits

Click to Enlarge

Trotsky’s bath

Click to Enlarge

Trotsky’s desk

Click to Enlarge

Trotsky’s garden

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated