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The Museum of Contemporary Art is tackling one of the art world's edgiest characters with "Martin Kippenberger: Problem Perspective." Ann Goldstein, MOCA senior curator, spoke to Times staff writer Suzanne Muchnic about highlights from the exhibition of Kippenberger's work.
'The Happy End of Franz Kafka's "Amerika" '
Mixed media installation, 1994
"This epic piece brings together a lot of ideas in Kippenberger's work. It comes from a scene in Kafka's unfinished novel in which the protagonist goes to a huge job recruitment center in Oklahoma and finds an endless grid of tables, each with two chairs, where interviews are going on.
The floor of the installation is a large green field, modeled on a soccer field. On it are dozens of vignettes of tables and chairs, representing encounters between interviewers and interviewees. Some of the furniture came from Kippenberger's collection; other pieces were constructed by him and other artists.
He produced the work in 1994 at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. In the United States, it has been seen at the 1999 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh and the Renaissance Society in Chicago. We will show it with an element that isn't always included: bleacher-like seating for spectators.
Kippenberger places the interview vignettes in the context of a competitive game on a soccer field. Then he takes the situation one step further by turning it into a spectator sport. You can't enter the work, but you can watch from the bleachers. He was concerned about the artist's role and function in society, so you can imagine one of the encounters as an artist trying to convince someone of his significance and value. It's a powerful statement."