Monday, March 30, 2009

I am going into the big birch wood, my pills will soon start doing me good (1990)

The Kippenberger show at MoMa made my jaw drop. I had no idea it would. What I knew about his work came from reviews, all enthusiastic. And then I had read about how he lived hard and I imagined a whole hip cult around him romanticizing, sugar-coating his personality. I pre-decided I wouldn’t join that club.

But what a show. What struck me most was his furious production, so refreshingly un-precious, and his refusal to formulize. He tore through almost every approach to art making, demystifiying the idea that art is the work of great genius. It is not. It is work and work and nothing more.

What is painful about the show is the evident self-loathing, the wound behind the fury. The question is raised again: is inner torment a key ingredient in the whole endeavor? For Kippenburger, yes. I think it was his push, or rather his shove.

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