Anna Frijstein

Anna Frijstein, Unicorn mum (on edge), 2023.

Year granted: 2022 Website: Part of Prospects

Through her work, Anna Frijstein (1991) is challenging the concept of human beings as intelligent and superior beings. Encompassing paintings, sculptures, and comical-satirical performances, her multidisciplinary works thus confront the spectator with a figurative distorting mirror. Hiding behind the humour, however, always lie political or emotionally-charged narratives. Language plays an important role in the work. With ambiguous dialogues, titles or statements, Frijstein challenges the spectator to discover deeper layers of meaning. In this way she hopes to make us aware of our subconscious behaviour and inspire us to reconsider fixed assumptions, whether concerning the climate or the pursuit of happiness, authenticity, and success.  

In the installation Can you hold me still? (2023), Frijstein uses the figure of the ‘unicorn mum’ to discuss motherhood. Contrary to the ‘helicopter mum’, who painstakingly follows every single step in the lives of her children, the unicorn mum represents a more chaotic type who prioritizes herself, continues to pursue her own ambitions, and doesn’t necessarily put her children first. Undermining ideals of beauty and established norms, paintings on old cardboard boxes are hanging against a background in faint rainbow colours — the faded glory of a once happy unicorn world. Frijstein: “As an artist and new mother I am rebelling against society’s ideals and standards surrounding good versus bad parenting.”

The unicorn mum is stuck between feelings of joy and darkness, hope and fear, anger and comfort, strength and vulnerability. While she is trying to hold her baby still, she is wondering who will still hold her?

Text: Esther Darley

Translation from Dutch to English: Marie Louise Schoondergang