Animate Collapses the Inanimate in Maria Friberg's Still Lives #5

Maria Friberg

Photograph of postcard of Maria Friberg,  Still Lives #5 , 2006

Photograph of postcard of Maria Friberg, Still Lives #5, 2006

Still Live(s), not life, Maria Friberg references more than one subject at rest. 

Quite literally assumed in the positioning of both subjects, the cars stacked upon each other and the man who lies on top, neither subject is paused in motion.  The crushed vehicles placed one on top of the other; they become a statuesque metallic figure.   

“One of the principal genres (subject types) of Western art – essentially, the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead”--Tate, definition of still life:

Animate collapses the inanimate.

The man positioned the same as the once functioning automobiles, their bodies are expended by an unseen external pressure. 

Artist Friberg is purposefully selective in her choice of subject.  Featured on Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Friberg Feminist Artist Statement states that in using of men as subjects she exclusives dresses them in business attire.  Subjugating them to a specific fashion, Friberg identifies a business suit to be a mark of authority.

Her photographic works almost always including a man in a business suit, Still Lives #5 has the male subject adhere to this same style, in everything but the suit jacket. 


In an excerpt from one of her many intriguing project, Somewhere Else, describes how,

“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.”


This encapsulating Friberg’s vision and artistic intention, there is nothing still about her Still Lives.  Deeply relating to the gender positioning men and women has faced in the past and still do today, this photograph captured in 2006 still lives in 2018.

Written by Jasmine Boothe

Individualistic Minds

Jasmine BootheComment