Peter Friedl employs a range of genres, mediums and forms of display in order to explore the construction of history and different modes of narration. Based on critical intimacy, permanent displacement and contextual transfer, his work emphasises the friction between aesthetic and political awareness.
No prey, no pay (2019) examines and challenges the histories of showing and showing off through the form of circus plinths. In this theatrical installation of seven handcrafted, colourfully painted examples, each serves not only as an autonomous sculpture but also as a potentially functional display platform, a kind of pedestal, a tiny stage or a speakers’ corner. All of them refer to historical or mythical characters, thus functioning as unorthodox portraits. Approaching history as a complex and compound construct rather than a monolithic structure, the artist transforms the plinths into props, adding new layers of storytelling and meaning. Pirate costumes with accompanying accessories have also been provided by the artist for performers, who will recall various heroes and heroines from the real and imagined global counter-history of piracy. Throughout the duration of the biennial, this motley crew will appear and disappear in Sharjah, and at times, mingle with audiences and passers-by. A restyled Jolly Roger flag named King Death punctuates the presentation.