Lecture Peter Friedl:
Hilde Van Gelder
13 April, 7 pm
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“All images lie when they are not read right.” We might understand this phrase, taken from Peter Friedl’s essay The Purloined Philosopher (2011), as one of the artist’s leitmotifs. His investigative works address the root of what is at stake in today’s world: an ambition for real equality among all humans, as embedded in a well-balanced more-than-human constellation. Julen Madariaga, Anne Bonny, Tendai Pfepferere: they are but a few of Friedl’s proposed, silent exemplaseeking to disarm present-day hegemonic power configurations in society. What if the “black man” did not show up too late, but instead arrived on the scene ahead of his time? What if her time is now, or still to come, if imminently so? Could this be “reported” by means of staging multilingual nonactors untheatrically, asking each one of them to recite from memory in their native language a translation of the same militant text by Franz Kafka? Peter Friedl’s radically neutral approach of enunciation helps us discover the germs of a new sensus communis in-the-making. Soon, the visitor of Peter Friedl’s Report 1964-2022 realizes that she can put trust in his reflexive, “intelligent” images. As she learns how to read them right, she finds that they speak truthfully about a much longed for community-in-construction.
Hilde Van Gelder is professor of contemporary art history at the University of Leuven, where she is director of the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture (LGC). She is an editor of Image [&] Narrative, and of the Lieven Gevaert Series (Leuven University Press). She has been a guest curator of research-based exhibitions for institutions such as Jeu de Paume, Paris (Inventer le possible, 2014) and Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (Allan Sekula: Collective Sisyphus, 2017). Recently she published Ground Sea. Photography and the Right to Be Reborn(Leuven University Press, 2021). This book integrates self-created illustrations, defined as doodles, into her theoretical writing about what photography can do as a political actor, when it is used as contemporary art (cf. also her website www.groundsea.be). In 2020 she founded the Brussels-based artistic and curatorial haven De Blinkerd (www.deblinkerd.be). Under the pseudonym of Othillia G—, she develops artistic activities for De Blinkerd, such as the creation of a nautical counter-chart entitled Dover and Calais to Dunkerque and Ramsgate (2021).