press release

Peter Friedl (1960, based in Berlin) explores the conditions and genres of representation, using strategies of bracketing, exposing, editing, and other contextual transfers. His artistic practice emphasizes the friction between aesthetic and political awareness in the framework of their respective narratives. Throughout his artistic practice runs a deep concern about the language of the “subaltern” – that is, what remains outside or excluded from accepted symbolic systems. With the exhibition Blow Job in Extra City Antwerp, curated by Anselm Franke, Peter Friedl returns to his long-standing interest in theatre and its aesthetics, which was the subject of a large number of essays he wrote in the early 1980s.

The title Blow Job refers to an Internet project which started in 2001. At the time, Blow Job was set up as an anonymous blog: a brief scenario (“Berlin, 2001”) full of biographical, historical, and fictional references including seven acting characters. Running dialogues, stage directions, or prose insertions could be contributed to the website anonymously.

This trash material, now anachronistic, is the starting point for the present exhibition. Extra City commissioned Peter Friedl to turn it into a definite dramatic text which will be published by Sternberg Press in conjunction with the exhibition. Following Friedl’s previous text-based projects, such as the children’s monologues of Kromme Elleboog and Four or Five Roses or the interviews in Working at Copan, Blow Job raises questions of authorship, institutional practice, and visibility. The text will become the source for realizations and collaborations in various institutional contexts, beginning in São Paulo and Berlin in the fall of 2008.

The background of this commission functions as an organizing principle for a constellation of works in the exhibition, which brings together drawings, photos, and slides from 1964 to the present, some of which have rarely or never been shown before. Also included is the video installation King Kong (2001), shot in Sophiatown on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The film mimics the subtle deconstruction of a video clip, featuring songwriter Daniel Johnston against the backdrop of apartheid history. Rather than being another “retrospective”– a genre Friedl used in recent exhibitions – Blow Job reveals the theatrical as an exhibition and curatorial paradigm.

BIOGRAPHY Peter Friedl’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including at documenta X (1997) and documenta XII (2007), the 48th Venice Biennale (1999), the 3rd Berlin Biennale (2004), and the 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Seville (2006). Solo exhibitions include the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1998); Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (1999); Casino Luxembourg, Luxemburg (2001); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2001); Institute for Contemporary Art, Cape Town (2002); Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne-Lyon (2002); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main (2004); Witte de With, centre for contemporary art, Rotterdam (2004); Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2006); and Kunsthalle Basel (2008). In 2006 the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) organized a comprehensive retrospective, which was subsequently shown at Miami Art Central/Miami Art Museum and the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Marseille.

Peter Friedl has been nominated for the Vincent Award 08. The accompanying exhibition runs from 20 June till 30 September 2008 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

FILM PROGRAM FRIDAY 20.06 - 19.00h I Film program compiled and introduced by Peter Friedl, including Germaine Dulac's La coquille et le clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman, 1928) based on a script by Antonin Artaud; Andy Warhol's Paul Swan (1965); Richard Foreman's Strong Medicine (1978); and a film from the Squat Theatre production Any Warhol's Last Love (1978).

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Peter Friedl: Blow Job
Kurator: Anselm Franke