Peter Friedl: Report
Erna Hecey is proud to announce a new solo exhibition with video works by Peter Friedl.
Report (2016) is the title of the paramount video installation produced for documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel. It is perhaps the cinematographically most complex among Friedl's video installations, exploring the permeability of language and identity boundaries. The source text is "A Report to an Academy" (1917), Franz Kafka's short story about the ape Red Peter's becoming human-a famous, often overinterpreted parable about assimilation and mimesis. Seemingly conform with classical dramatic theory, the only setting is the empty stage of the National Theater in Athens, designed by German architect Ernst Ziller in the late nineteenth century.
More than twenty actors, mostly non-professionals, appear on the stage, alone or in pairs. They all recite by heart extracts from Kafka's monological text in their own native tongue or a language of their choice: Arabic, Dari, English, French, Greek, Kurdish, Russian, and Swahili. German, the original language of the canonical Kafka piece, is deliberately absent. Uniting them all, besides Kafka's text, is the actors' physicality, the intentionality of their gestures, and the fact that they belong to today's migrant populations, or rather, to the global community of men, women, and children in transit. Friedl's film, doing away with subtitles, comes to life through the presence and charisma of the actors and through the precise and multi-layered editing.
With some omissions and variations, Report remains faithful to the original narrative throughout the fragmented polyphony of languages and gestures. Bodies, voices, geographies, social classes, personal and political stories coexist in a complex and highly suggestive tableau vivant.