Somewhere Else, video, 1998

Friberg’s signature is men in suits, such as Somewhere Else (1998). The most known are the protagonists of Almost There (2000) who vacantly stare straight ahead while floating in a pool. The series was photographed parallel to the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2000–01, and echoed the susceptibility of the men who lost their financial standing. However, these images took on new relevance during the financial crisis of 2007-08. Questionable banking practices tarnished the respectability of the man in the business suit, the sartorial symbol of Wall Street. Friberg revisits the suit in The Painting Series (2011); however, this time the men are enveloped by whirling colors instead of water. This macrocosm, or perhaps microcosm, is suggestive of a new beginning or transition. Or perhaps even liberation?

For many years Maria Friberg has explored masculinity. She made an active choice not to focus the camera lens on her own body, as countless other women artists have done from the 1970s and onward. Instead Friberg cleverly projected so-called “feminine traits” onto a cast of males, thereby highlighting the subjugation both genders face when denied the freedom to fully express their humanity. Friberg’s works illustrate that gender is in flux rather than fixed. Her powerful images are just as much about the break down of power structures as they are about individual freedom.

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