We are not certain whether to interpret the images in Friedberg's paintings as ironic or sincere. Is the female body, violently draped across a chair in Valentine an image of vulnerability and domination? Is this an ironic commentary on the nature of male/female love relationships, or is she offering herself willingly? The sense of sacrifice, the ragged red line of the valentine-frame, and the dark, downward thrust of the composition, imply the former, but we are also offered alternate meanings. Is the male juggler in Pink Stage oblivious to those surfeited and defeated figures that share his stage, or is he responsible for their condition? The motivations in these works are complex and intricate, as are our responses to them. We are made to realize the importance of personal experience in any interpretative process.
Friedberg's use of the frame to structure meaning is particularly self-conscious, especially in works from 1987. Our conception of the frame as a container is asserted, manipulated, and ultimately denied in many of these works. Friedberg often uses a painted frame within a frame, intervening in that secondary frame-space, extending the image beyond its "natural" boundaries. Her painted frames are called into use as spatial markers rather than as boundaries, as elements interrupt and transform the conceptual space of the frame. In Battery Park, the self contained dark field with floating figures is delimited on three sides by a loose red boundary, which, in turn, is surrounded by a wide yellow border around the whole painting.