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Debby Friday 'What A Man' by Kevan Funk, Debby Friday

Promonews - 6th Apr 2023

Canadian alternative artist Debby Friday explores the idea of the male gaze, and subverting it in sensational fashion, in the video for What A Man, co-directed by Friday and Kevan Funk.

Friday plays auditioning actress, poledancer and artist's model, in each scenario becoming objectified by male viewers, yet finally getting the upper hand. As a counterpoint, Friday and Funk also recreate a classical painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few female artists of the Baroque, for reasons that Friday explains below.

“The WHAT A MAN music video is loosely based on the famous essay, Ways of Seeing, by English art critic John Berger as well as paintings by the Italian Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi - in particular, her iconic work Judith Slaying Holofernes," explains Friday.

"In 1972, Berger released Ways of Seeing as both a television series via the BBC and a book. Both the series and the text function as image-based explorations of the depiction of women in Western art and culture. This work has been massively influential in cultural theory, as it introduced the concept of 'the male gaze'.

"Gentileschi is distinctive for being one of the only female professional artists of her era. Her paintings draw from myths and Biblical stories and almost always feature women as protagonists and equals to men. Arguably her most famous work, Judith Slaying Holofernes, is thought to be a self-portrait that depicts her as Judith slaying a Holofernes who resembles Agostino Tassi, a man who raped her when she was 17.

"Both the essay and the paintings served as frameworks for the video. The same way that Gentileschi painted herself into images of other women is the same way I feel that every woman can see ourselves in much of Gentileschi’s story and her work. To be a woman and an artist in this world is to be, in a way, a shapeshifter. You take on the shape of whatever and whoever is looking at you - whether that be a camera, a phone, a lover, a thief, a killer. Always and all at once, you are a spectacle, a flower, a treasure, a ditch, a bitch, a miracle.

“When I look at Artemisia’s paintings, I feel myself transported and transformed into the emotional field of Judith, of Jael, of Susanna. Her hand is my hand, her sword is my sword, her pain is my pain. I have always identified with women who were wild and brazen - survivors, people who exist and persist despite. I have always looked up to women who were willing to be ‘bad’ in the name of living thoroughly.”

Promonews - 6th Apr 2023


  • Alternative
  • Male Gaze
  • Ways Of Seeing
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Judith Slaying Holofernes

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Debby Friday
Kevan Funk
Kevan Funk
Anna Killen
Production Company
Executive Producer
Sub Pop


Director of Photography
John Ker
Focus Puller
Matt Veen
2nd AC
Alex Acton Jones
Julian Lomaga


Rory Sommerville-Bathmaker
Key Grip
Nate Belgrave


Production designer
Dialla Kawar


Talia Godin
Myla Martin


Kevan Funk


Kassi Bellamy
Colour grade company


Director's Representation


Sub Pop


DoP's representation

Promonews - 6th Apr 2023

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