Kippenberger‘s The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’ (1994) re-imagines a section of Kafka’s novel, when the protagonist applies for a job at the “biggest theatre in the world”, after travelling across America.
‘Everybody is welcome!’ proclaims the call for employment, ‘Whoever wants to become an artist should sign up!’
The unfinished condition of the novel (which Kafka never completed) and Kippenberger’s claim that he never finished reading it, leaves open the possibility for something unprecedented in a Kafka work: an happy ending.
Considered as his masterpiece, Kippenberger‘s 1994 piece explores the fictional utopia of universal employment, adapting Kafka’s idea of communal job interviews into an artwork. Kippenberger describes his installation ‘a circus in town, looking to employ reliable hands, helpers, doers, self-confident handlers and the like. Outside the circus tent, in my imagination, there would be tables and chairs set up for job interviews’. A sort of playing field for mass interviews, the work contains over 40 tables and about 80 chairs, even from classic Eames and Jacobsen designs.
Open to multiple meaning, the work refers to the competition between artists and the judgment within the art community, but also to the importance of relationships and dialogues between different personalities and psychological types (represented by the variety of furniture).
Even though the themes are evidently not the same, we are surprised by the striking resemblance of this piece to Archizoom idea and representation of a continuous city (No-Stop City), entirely made by mobile furniture, across a fixed structural grid. (See one of our recent posts).
In 1969, the Archizoom group, while carrying out an experimental work in the field of design, also undertook a research on environment, mass culture and the city, which led to the project No-Stop City.
Gathering all the texts and drawings, this book reveals to us the “Endless City” intertwining architecture with objects and the triumphant consumer society, giving an interpretation where the repetition of a single central element, a building or a group of objects makes up, through a play of mirrors, a catatonic environment, a boundless supermarket, a now reached future to be composed.
No-Stop City is a qualityless city in which the individual can achieve his own housing conditions as a creative, freed and personal activity. The theoretical project was first published in the review Casabella in 1970, under the title: “City, assembly line of social issues, ideology and theory of the metropolis”. As Andrea Branzi puts it, this project implements “the idea of the fading away of architecture within metropolis”.
No-Stop City is a critical Utopia, a model of global urbanization where design is the essential conceptual instrument used in the mutation of living patterns and territories.
“Considering architecture as an intermediate stage of urban organization that has to be overstepped, No-Stop City establishes a direct link between metropolis and furnishing objects: the city becomes a series of beds, tables, chairs and cupboards; the domestic and urban furniture fully coincide. To qualitative utopias, we oppose the only possible utopia: that of Quantity” (Andrea Branzi).