Liberty City (2007)
Video, color, sound 1:11 min., loop Edition of 3 + 1 AP
In his video Liberty City (2007), Friedl addresses a standard historical scene. On the night of 17 December 1979, the (black) motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie was stopped by (white) cops on the corner of North Miami Avenue and 38th Street and beaten to death. When the accused policemen were acquitted five months later, riots broke out in Liberty City. It was the darkest moment in the history of Miami. Desolate Liberty City haunts voyeuristic reality TV series in emulation of Homicide. Friedl inverts the dramatic structure: In his nocturnal scene staged and filmed on site, the (white) cop is beaten up. The looped and uncut sequence appears like filmed by an eyewitness. In fact, it is a meticulously constructed, dramatic study. The film was shot in the streets of the Liberty Square Housing Project, a residential complex built during the Roosevelt era in the 1930s for African American residents. To keep the black and white communities separated, a wall was erected on the eastern boundary of Liberty Square, the remains of which can still be seen today. Friedl’s short loop is an homage to the community of Liberty City—epic theater in the genre of documentary aesthetics.