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Peter Friedl


July 2 − July 20, 2014

Peter Friedl, Dummy, 2014
Peter Friedl, Dummy, 2014
(c) 2015 VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Photo Thomas Bruns

At the documenta X (1997), viewers walking through a pedestrian underpass in Kassel came upon a monitor showing in a continuous loop two scenes set in this very underpass: In the first, a man, played by Friedl himself, tries unsuccessfully to get a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine and then gives the machine a hearty kick. In the next scene, he is accosted by another man tapping him for a handout, and since his refusal proves every bit as resolute as that of the machine, the cadger gives the cold-hearted passer-by a ferocious kick. Friedl titled this work Dummy, about which Roger M. Buergel wrote: "The film was about presence and absence, site-specificity and fiction, in a word: about displaced exchanges.” (Roger M. Buergel, "Die kommende Moderne”, in Über Peter Friedl, ed. Dirk Snauwaert (Brussels: Wiels and Berlin: Motto Books, 2013), 65)

Displaced exchanges also figure in the 25/25/25 project and might explain the fact that Peter Friedl’s work for the Contemporary Art Museum in Siegen is likewise entitled Dummy. In a showcase – another recurring element in his work – he displays 19 slips of paper from the e-mail correspondence between four people involved in the NRW Art Foundation’s anniversary project: the museum’s curator, the department head, the juror and the artist himself.

The showcase, slips of paper and the actions and assessments preserved therein combine to form a picture that Peter Friedl offers up not only to the museum as an institution, but to the whole 25/25/25 project. In 2002 Peter Friedl wrote the following in his text "One World”: "Laments and discussions about the erosion of the public in connection with the function of museums often seem bent on disregarding the roles various functionaries and agents play in this setting.[…] Power, in the social as in the private arena, cannot be clearly localized. It is not an object of desire, but weaves its way through many disparate levels, channels, individuals and collectives and takes every conceivable shape. It is the subtext that needs a narrative.”

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