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Confront me back
BY
Maria Friberg

The video Confront me back is a short allegory about the protagonist’s untenable position within his corporate environment. It has formal (aesthetic) precedents that reach back to the early films by Andy Warhol and the early videos by Bruce Nauman. Warhol filmed such prosaic thrillers as Sleep, 1963, Kiss, 1964 and Empire, 1964, all of which depicted exactly what their titles declare, and for notoriously long periods of time.

Nauman recorded Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk), 1968, which depicted the banal act of the artist simply walking around his studio. Although conceptually not related to these artistic gambits, Friberg’s video is formally related to their precedent setting use of the banal act as art. As if we were spying on the subject, we have caught the man in what was the semi-private environment of his company car, only to see him turn flaccid before our eyes. This private moment of collapsed resignation portrays male vulnerability in a corporate environment.

But Friberg is not simply highlighting a mere weak moment of the man, for the subject reforms itself and coalesces back into his original upright position. Friberg’s works often use such metaphorical signs with subtlety. Weigh the importance of the theatrical setting of the man and car. All too easily coded as phallus, the gearshift nevertheless takes on ominous overtones. Is it the cause of his slow melt? Consider too, his awkward position of sitting between the driver’s seat and passenger. The colloquialism ´being in the driver’s seat´ comes to mind here, but the driver is clearly not in control.

As confront me back suggests and as Friberg does throughout her work, masculinity is never a clearly defined condition, but a folding and unfolding process of performativity, that embraces vulnerability and resolution, and not coincidentally, humor.

Keywords Feminism, Body
Aspect ratio 1,33:1 (4:3)
Prod. format Generic SD-video
Duration 00:03:00
Language No dialogue
Color Color
Year 1997
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About the artist

Maria Friberg

Born in 1966 in Malmö, Sweden. Lives and works in Stockholm.

Maria Fribergs’ education includes the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Myndlista- og Handidaskoli, Reykjavik, Iceland, and Nordic Art School, Kokkola, Finland, among others. Previous exhibitions include Résistance, The silent voice, Bendana-Pinel Art Contemporain, Paris, Commoncause, Nationalmuseum at Kulturhuset, Project Container, Stockholm, Time Trace at LMNO, Brussels, Belgium, Goals and Dreams at Västerås Konstmuseum, Västerås, and Vaksam at Bror Hjorts Hus, Uppsala, among many others.

“Most of my work revolves about themes of power, masculinity and man’s relationship to nature. In my images, I create ambiguous tableaus that challenge preconceived notions about identity, gender, and social hierarchies. My most recent pieces look both outwards, to the challenges in contemporary society, and inwards, to a meditative state of mind. In these photographs and videos, the isolation and solitude of the individuals reflect issues in society at large. The men in my images are signs for men, trying to find their place in times of turmoil.”

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