Of Fathers and Obsessions

The Containing Father (Lövin-1988)

The Containing Father (Lövin-1988)

A Sunday afternoon visit to the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm (Moderna museet) turned out to be very rewarding, and not only from a purely aesthetic point of view but also because some of the pieces, in particular one of them, seemed to call upon a strong connection with the title of the present blog.

The aforementioned artwork is Björn Lövin’s sculpture titled The Containing Father (Den kringgärdande fadern) (1988) that reminds, not only through its title, of Lacanian scholarship on the topic of language, infancy, mothers and fathers.

At 280 cm tall and 120cm wide, the sculpture is almost intimidating. The solid, darkened surface of the wood does not appear at all hospitable, let alone friendly. There is a certain warmth in it, but one needs to be willing to look for it, and find it there where others would simply feel distance and coldness. the sculpture rests on three feet, two of them projected outwards like some sort of giant embracing arms, ready to contain and not let go.

Strangely, one may walk closer to the sculpture, willingly subjecting herself or himself to the father’s embrace. Time appears to be frozen in this open embrace. The feeling of containment comes not from the arms not yet fully closed, rather from such potentiality once the embrace may be led to fruition. The figure is tempting, it is open; at the same time, one may sense the size and the open embrace as intimidating, a promise of a possibly disciplining action yet to take place.

I find the piece a masterful and powerful translation of stereotypes and idealized pictures of masculinities, especially that of strict, intimidating, disciplining fatherhood. Now I can only wonder, how can one further deconstruct these?

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Thursday, July 16th, 2009 Miscellaneous No Comments