Martin Kippenberger, a provocative figure from the Cologne scene, was an extraordinarily prolific artist who worked in every possible medium: painting, drawing, collage, objects, editions, stickers, posters, signboards. He engaged in an all-out exploration of the models and underlying stakes of modern art history, interrogating the field of art from the perspective of politics. His grating humor, manifestly inspired by dada, betrays an unresolved hesitation between radicalism and derision. With his hyperactivity, the disquieting inflation of his production, and his ironizing style, he seemed to engage in a parody of the market, seeking to cut its powers of absorption short with a bid at inundation. Through provocatively titled works - The Capitalist Futurist Painter in his Car, Selling America & Buying El Salvador, Jeans Against Fascism, Arbeiten bis alles geklärt ist, Psychobuildings, Knechte des Tourismus, Kennzeichen eines Unschuldigen, Eurobummel, I Had a Vision - and a number of spectacular installations, he often succeeded in putting a finger on the profoundest contradictions of the systems through which he moved.

The work presented at the documenta is the last he completed. It partakes of a larger project which parodies the networks of globalization. This project bears the generic title Metro-Net and consists of a series of metro entries installed in the strangest and most unexpected places. The project began with the opening of one such entry on the island of Syros in Greece, in September 1993.

Conceived for installation in various spots around the world so as to form a useless, imaginary network, these metro entries have only materialized in two locations outside documenta: one on Syros and the other in Dawnson City West in Canada. The Greek station entry is built in cement, the Canadian one of wood, each meant to match the climate and design styles of the place it occupies. The documenta entry gapes on the banks of the Fulda. Like the others, it contains a ventilation system that simulates the currents of hot air common to all subways. The stairways descend to a condemned space, indicating an impossible access to the world. The Kippenberger-metro also exists on an Internet site, thus participating in a virtual network.

Kippenberger liked to stay on the island of Syros, where he had installed a museum in a complex of five cement buildings in ruins, originally a meat-packing facility. He regularly invited artists to create projects on the island, organizing their distribution and publicity through post cards. The title of Kippenberger's museum parodied the acronym of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to which he added the S of Syros to form MOMAS.

Paul Sztulmann

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