This weekend I finally made it to MoMA for the Martin Kippenberger exhibit, which I highly recommend if you’re in New York. It ends May 11th. I remember being really struck by one of Kippenberger’s gigantic installations, The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s Amerika, when I’d first seen it in Sweden when I was there in 1998. It was at a special exhibition called Memento of the Metropolis that was part of European Culture Capital, which was in Stockholm that year. (Every summer a different European city is chosen as the Capital of Culture; they have a bunch of art exhibitions, special music, theater and dance performances, etc. all summer long).
Anyway, toward the end of Kafka’s unfinished novel, Amerika (also called The Man Who Disappeared) (which I, embarrassingly, haven’t yet read), the young man goes for a job interview in Oklahoma, not knowing that the corporation is corrupt and the whole thing is a scam. In Kippenberger’s installation piece, numerous pairs of chairs each separated by a table are all set up on a soccer field, bleachers aligning each side of it. So, it’s like a job fair with numerous interviews ongoing at the same time. Except here, the chairs are rather ridiculously funny — two gigantic lifeguard stands sit opposite one another; two amusement-park-ride seats with umbrellas circle on a piece of roller coaster track continuously around a table that looks like a fried egg; two big arm-chairs are separated by a table on which sets a light hooked up to a brain, etc. At times the chairs actually resemble people: a big bean bag sits opposite an art deco stool with long spindly legs, making the interviewer look like a giant potato-head, the interviewee a tiny frightened spider.
Amazingly, they let us take pictures (the only part of the Kippenberger exhibit where we could):
And that the whole thing sits on a soccer field surrounded by bleachers makes it seem like the modern job interview is just one big spectacle.