Mattias Härenstam

Portrait of a man reminiscent of my father

Single Channel Video,2011. 12 min 10 sec. Full-HD. PAL. Color. Stereo.
Actor: Manfred Eisner. Special thanks to Jannicke Låker.
   The video shows the back of a man, filmed from below, as he stands in front of a window in a dark room. He sobs and cries with various intensity.
View excerpt from video.

Portrait of a man reminiscent of my father was first shown as part of the exhibition 28th February 1986 at Akershus Art Centre, Lillestrøm, Norway Feb - March 2011. Later it was selected for "Høstutstillingen" - The Annual National Exhibition of the Visual Arts at Kunstnernes Hus, September - October 2012 and was also shown at a solo show at Tromsø Fine Arts Society, November - December 2012 and as part of a solo show at The Vigeland Museum 2016. In spring 2013 it was shown at Jönköpings Läns Museum, Sweden and inn 2017 it was screened at Coast Contemporary onboard the Hurtigruten travelling along the coast of Norway.

Excerpt from an interview with freelance writer Ben Rolfsen, published in online artmagazine Måg Issue 3, March 2011:


BR - In the small innermost room of the exhibition you screen a video work titled Portrait of a man reminiscent of my father. From behind we look up at the back of a man looking out a window. The big strong father with his broad shoulders, supposedly the image of the paternally safe and secure, but this man weeps helplessly like a child, unreachable with his back turned. The title suggests to me that this is a work with strong autobiographical elements.

MH - I thought that the video could be like a kind of parallel to the first work about the Palme assassination (i.e. Untitled - 28th February 1986): The chock is similar, though on a more personal than social level, as a child for the first time to experience your parents as just as helpless and lost as yourself. And yes, the video is to some degree based on childhood memories; my father suffered from recurrent depressions and was then unreachable, physically and mentally. He shut himself in a dark room and in his, for a child, incomprehensible grief and pain.

BR - Dark spaces and the failure to connect, the elusive and unattainable seem to be recurring elements in your production.

MH - Well, maybe is true that the feeling that anything at any time can collapse, even in - or especially in - a protected middle-class life, where fear of failure and falling into an undefined abyss is strong, could be some kind of common thread.  Maybe I am still just trying to understand the incomprehensible.