Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kippy Controversy

Earlier this week Franz Pahl, the Italian politician who began a hunger strike in protest of a Martin Kippenberger artwork, was hospitalized. Doctors reported that his condition was not serious, but as of yesterday he has ended the strike. Pahl is the president of Trentino-Alto Adige's regional council and refused to eat for eight days because of Kippenberger's 1990 work Zuerst die Füße (Feet First) . The sculpture depicts a crucified frog holding a mug of beer and an egg, and went on display at Bolzano's Museion Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art at the end of May. Pahl, who is up for reelection soon, says the work is offensive to the region's Catholics.

The exhibition opened in May and after protests the work, displayed in the entrance hall, was veiled but not removed as demanded. Later it was moved to a gallery on the third floor. Newspaper articles about the controversy were posted around the work. These gestures did nothing to appease the anger. In addition to the hunger strike there is a petition circulating which has been signed by more than ten thousand citizens calling for the immediate removal of the sculpture.

Other controversial crucifixion works include performances by Marina Abramovic and Hermann Nitsch, and of course, Andreas Serrano's Piss Christ.

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