Papas - Johan Bävman

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Emotive portraits revealing fatherhood without the clichés.

Institute Suedois has a knack for getting great photographers in to exhibit, and the Swede Johan Bävman, is no exception. On learning that only 14% of men opted to take parental leave of more than a month in his mother country (and even less in France), the artist decided to dig deeper into the world of stay-at-home dads.

Looking overwhelmed but always attentive to the needs of their little sprogs, bearded dads vacuum with their toddlers on their backs, Ghostbuster-style, spending every day between sports classes and supermarkets to reap the benefits of seeing their children grow up first-hand. The photographer captures simple and tender gestures – like a father and son drinking their respective coffee/hot chocolate in unison – but also shows the hardships. Bävman’s paternal portraits are like a pertinent sociological study, and work hard to fight the sexist clichés.

It’s a shame, nonetheless, that the exhibition (a series of ten photos in 40x50 format) is so tiny. Slaloming between tables and people sitting down to eat is not exactly the most relaxing experience, and draws away from what is an otherwise strong retrospective.

By: Clotilde Gaillard

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