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Karl Haendel and Petter Ringbom, Questions for My Father, 2011, still from a color video in HD, 11 minutes 17 seconds.

Karl Haendel

Harris Lieberman

Karl Haendel and Petter Ringbom, Questions for My Father, 2011, still from a color video in HD, 11 minutes 17 seconds.

Patriarchy shimmers in and out of focus in Karl Haendel’s Questions for My Father, 2011, being alternately constructed and deconstructed while remaining literally invisible. For this emotionally complex video, a collaboration with filmmaker Petter Ringbom (Haendel’s own best-known work takes the form of large-scale drawings), the artist asked a group of male friends to look one by one into the camera and pose questions they would have liked their fathers to answer but that they had never asked. No doubt many sons’ relationships with their fathers are jolly fun, but, as Tolstoy knew, happy families don’t make good literature—they’re all alike—and Haendel seems mostly to have picked men with baggage. Usually framed head and shoulders on a screen so large that their faces are taller than we are, they pin us with their troubles.

The structure of Haendel’s video seems obvious

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