For his first retrospective in 1998, Peter Friedl proposed only one work. He asked the entire staff of the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels—from the director to the electrician—what animal they had once in their life wanted to be. The statements and wishes went from cat, unicorn, penguin, giraffe to crocodile, blue bear, lion and “a transparent, round virus.” Then the costumes of all named animals were produced, some in adults’, some in children’s sizes, and arranged in one of the exhibition rooms. Visitors were free to decide whether they only wanted to look at the costumes or slip into the role of one of the animals on display. Friedl took the genre of the retrospective literally: the game with the exhibits was in fact a reference to childhood, the most retrospective place of all.
The opening of the exhibition was documented on video; a seventeen-minute film was made from the footage. In subsequent presentations, Peter Friedl underwent a decisive change: the offer of participation no longer exists. The props have become relics; documents of a bygone time.