The Male Image and the Modern Business Suit
Maria Friberg allegorizes the conventions and conditions surrounding masculinity and its multiple relationships to the myth of power. Friberg’s leitmotiv is the male image and the modern business suit. Her art uses video and photography to capture the nuances of masculine performance and to express the often-elusive vagaries of social conditioning. Her method is subtle, her messages poetic. Friberg’s work opens our awareness to the many possibilities of representing masculinity.
Society regards independence, ambition, and competition as the best traits of masculinity. The business world reinforces these conventions. Friberg takes these characteristics and portrays them in various contexts. She questions these masculine and corporate conventions and their relationships to the personal and social, to the strong and the vulnerable. Friberg culls certain aspects from the psychological and social dimensions of masculinity and recasts them, creating subtle allegories on masculine identity and its various relationships to society.
Atlanter Symbolizes “Pillars of the Community”
In collaboration with Plains Art Museum, Friberg created atlanter, a 32-foot image of a man dressed in a business suit. The business suit is the uniform and power emblem of the corporate world. She titled it after the Greek god Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders. Historically, human figures have adorned buildings since the first ones were built. The columns, or pillars, supported the building and were sometimes sculpted in the shape of men or women. Male columns are called atlantes, female columns are caryatids. The most famous are found on the Erechtheion in Athens built in 421-409 BC. Friberg has updated this ancient idea, integrating it into her work on masculine identity.
In all of Friberg’s art, men never represent just one thing. Men exhibit a wide spectrum of possibilities, just one of which is seen here in atlanter, where “everyman” has become one of many “pillars” within the Fargo community.
Island Park Installation (501 Main Ave., Fargo, ND) – Atlanter, Maria Friberg. Installation Photograph ©Plains Art Museum