ThoughtWorks Arts

A Father's Lullaby

Project Summary: Summer 2019

Project Team

A Father’s Lullaby is a multi-platform, community engaged project highlighting the role of men in raising children and their absence due to racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

A Father’s Lullaby on display at the ICA in Boston
A Father’s Lullaby on display at the ICA in Boston

The project centers on marginalized voices of absent fathers, while inviting all men to participate by singing lullabies and sharing memories of childhood.

As described by a detailed review of the work in the Boston Globe:

A Father’s Lullaby centers on the homecomings of dozens of incarcerated men. Each one is a thread woven into a deeply affecting emotional whole. It is atmospheric, not linear, pieced together in a fluid patchwork of image and sound, longing and loss, mirroring the bleakly disconnected lives of families left without fathers and sons.

The work’s power lies in its balance of immediacy and distance. Men are shot square on, from the shoulders up, with a simple black background. They are black, Hispanic, Asian, white (though, like the prison population itself, disproportionately black). They stare right at you but reveal little.
— Boston Globe, December 5, 2019

During the residency Rashin worked with the Emmy-award winning creative studio Scatter to produce a new volumetric video portrait of one of the fathers.

In the installation, the father describes the experience of returning to his adult children, now in their 20s: “The main question from all of them is, ‘Why did you leave?’”

A still from the volumetric portrait
A still from the volumetric portrait

Supporting the in-person exhibition experiences is a website where fathers from across the USA upload recordings of their voices. Website visitors can browse and explore the voices via an interactive map, read about the project’s history, and record and upload a lullaby for themselves.

As such, the project continues to grow and evolve over time as more fathers discover it through workshops and events across the USA supported by the artist.

Rashin Fahandej interviewed in by ICA Boston

Rashin Fahandej says that A Father’s Lullaby is a “Poetic Cyber Movement for Social Justice, in which art and technology mobilizes a plethora of voices in public and virtual spaces to ignite an inclusive dialogue effecting social change.”

Rashin speaking on a panel at the ICA opening
Rashin speaking on a panel at the ICA opening

The piece has awarded the James and Audrey Foster prize, was exhibited at the Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) on the Boston waterfront Aug 21 – Dec 31, 2019.