The photographer and installation artist Frieda Medín was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1949. Although she took courses in photography with John (Johnny) Betancourt (b. 1949) at Casa Aboy and at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, Medín never received an academic degree in photography and considers herself to be self-taught. She is recognized as one of Puerto Rico's premier experimental photographers. She combines negatives and torn prints with recycled materials, such as zinc sheets and other discarded materials, and imbues them with sharp political commentary on the conditions of women in Puerto Rico's patriarchal and colonial society.
In her first series, Imágenes arrancadas (Torn-out images, 1984), Medín presented a group of highly personal self-portraits. The play between poses and shadows made by her nude and unadorned body offers a deeply introspective look into Medín's life while also serving as a metaphor about the lives of women in Puerto Rico. Her next installation, Everything's Fine in Puerto Rico ASS It Is (1985), dealt directly with the expectations placed on women on the island. The work was inspired by a remark by the Puerto Rican contestant who won the Miss Universe pageant in 1985. According to Medín, when asked what she would change about her country, the contestant responded, "Everything is fine in Puerto Rico as it is." The phrase, plus the irreverent s added to the word as, became the title of the installation—a critique of the value placed on beauty and the utter ignorance and dismissal of Puerto Rico's political situation.
In the mid-1980s Medín exhibited with the group M.S.A. (Manifestación Sintetista Actual), established by Teo Freytes and Yrsa Dávila. Both as a group and as an artists' space (in a loft in Old San Juan), M.S.A. stood for presenting the visual arts side-by-side with dance, theater, video, and poetry. In this group there would be no labeling of works by genre, since M.S.A. considered everything to be art. Medín is also the creator and director of an experimental short film, Aurelia (1990), shot in 16mm. The curator and critic Lilliana Ramos Collado has described Medín's photographic practice as "cathartic and confessional photography that seeks, in the midst of masks, the true face of her identity."#
1983 Three Women, Three Islands: Sophie Rivera, Manhattan, Lilia Fontana, Cuba, Frieda Medín Ojeda, Puerto Rico, El Museo del Barrio, New York
1985 Everything's Fine in Puerto Rico ASS It Is, Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan
1985 Nueva fotografía puertorriqueña, Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Pedras campus
1989–90 Images of Silence: Photography from Latin America and the Caribbean in the 80s, Museum of Modern Art of Latin America, Organization of American States, Washington, DC
1993 Intimate Lives: Work by Ten Contemporary Latina Artists, Women & Their Work, Austin, TX
González-Torres, Félix. "Frida [sic] Medín: Una imagen reconstruida." El Mundo, Puerto Rico Ilustrado (San Juan), April 3, 1988.
Nueva fotografía puertorriqueña. Rio Pedras: Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1985.
Rivera, Nelson. Con urgencia: Escritos sobre arte puertorriqueño contemporáneo. San Juan: La Editorial, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2009.
Three Women, Three Islands: Sophie Rivera, Manhattan, Lilia Fontana, Cuba, Frieda Medín Ojeda, Puerto Rico. New York: El Museo del Barrio, 1983.
Vargas, Kathy. Intimate Lives: Work by Ten Contemporary Latina Artists. Austin, TX: Women & Their Work, 1993.