Is a visual performance by Russian artist Maria Ionova-Gribina that explores how Russian men identify themselves through parenting. Childless young men are invited to be photographed without being informed about the theme. They are introduced to Maria’s children and asked how they would spend time with them as if they were their parent and to share their thoughts on fatherhood.
The idea came to Maria when her fellow photographer asked her to take his picture for a self portraits project. He asked Maria to make the picture as personal as possible. Portrait also had to reflect them both as artists. For Maria contemporary portrait is a lot about investigation. It has to answer or rather raise some questions. After thinking about it for a while, she has decided to assign him a role of the father of her children. That’s how the project began. “We do know much more about mother-child relations than we do about fathers”, Maria says ‚“how they interact with children, how that affects childhood development and how it reflects on both men and children”. Research on fathers is a fascinating field of study, which currently tends to raise far more questions than it answers, but while couples share many of the concerns about having children men have their own distinct worries.
Today, potential fathers who are scared of commitment are the attribute of modern western society. “Russian men are more immature than European men, for example”, Maria says. Statistics do show that the average marriage age in Russia has increased by 3 years since 90’s. But is it because it takes more time for a man to grow into parenting or has Russian institute of marriage transformed into “western model” with higher average marriage age and less premature marriages? Maria let’s a viewer decide by accompanying the images with quotes of her subjects.
The resume she makes for herself is that nothing is permanent; she is absolutely sure that men who are scared of the idea of a child today could become great fathers in the future. “It’s also so much about love, the majority of men I photographed said they were ready to marry a woman with kids from previous marriage if they were in love”.
For the record, though divorced, Maria is not currently looking for a father for Luka and Fiodor.
Men’s thoughts on raising children:
- “Your attitude shifts as you age. When young, you’re like, ‘never! ’ But the older you get, the more you see yourself as a dad. ”
- “There is considerable pressure from a society where family and children are considered an essential value; and there’s more pressure the older you get.”
- “Before taking on the responsibility of rearing someone, people should first rear themselves.”
- “It’s crucial that kids don’t invade my personal space and my comfort zone. I like peace and quiet.”
- “A future father has to achieve much in terms of personal development. Raising a child is a challenging and responsible job.”
- “I realize that if a kid comes along I’ll have to adapt my life to his or her needs. I see this as a drawback, and I haven’t yet identified any advantages.”
- “The birth of a child is an experiment with numerous variables.”
- “It’s better to have kids before you achieve anything. You just won’t have time for them later.”
- “I think all a future father needs to attain is a sense of security.”
- “In the end it’s the woman who makes the decision.”
- “Kids throw tantrums, make noise, and otherwise deprive you of your right for a peaceful life.”
- “Small children scare me. I don’t know what to do with them.”
- “A child is the pinnacle of my love towards his mother, the pinnacle of my life experience and worldview.”
- “The older a man gets, the more he thinks about kids — becoming aware, planning, making sense of it all.”