Merlin Carpenter’s exhibitions are always attempts to step outside the bounds of the “realm of the possible”—that is, the current conventions of the art industry—the better to criticize them. His latest show continued this attack on art-world consensus but at the same time demonstrated that one still has to deal with the reigning norms, to engage them somehow. His attack this time was, in the first instance, one on the posthumous canonization of the Martin Kippenberger currently being hailed as a painterly genius at the expense of the “conceptual” Kippenberger, whose project was in essence not painterly but rather conceptual—concerned with institutional critique. As Carpenter sees it, there is no longer any significant distinction between Kippenberger and a classic like Degas. The two artists are brought literally to overlap in Carpenter’s Not Made in Japan and Not Made in China (all works
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