The Alma Band

founded in 1972

Biography

Martin Kippenberger
born 1953 in Dortmund, Germany; died 1997 in Vienna, Austria

Albert Oehlen
born 1954 in Krefeld, Germany; lives in Gais, Switzerland

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Martin Kippenberger’s and Albert Oehlen’s careers as painters both began at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts, where they both studied, though not in the same class, in the mid- and late-1970s. They met there in 1977, and from that moment on worked together on many joint projects – within an ever growing network of further participants. Their ideas on painting were initially seen to fall under the category of »New Wild« painting, and their works operated with the subtle deformation of traditional concepts of painting. Their works were first shown together at the Max Hetzler Gallery in Stuttgart (later Cologne), where both of them regularly exhibited from the late 1980s, either alone or together, or in various further constellations. Exhibition titles like Bevor ihr malt, mach ich das lieber (Before You Paint, I Will Rather Do That Myself, 1981 – Oehlen) and Ein Erfolgsgeheimnis des Herrn A. Onassis: Investieren Sie in Öl (A Secret of Success for Mr A. Onassis: Invest in Oil, 1981 –Kippenberger), were an early expression of the bold irony that was to shape their approach to painting.

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Author: Christian Höller

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Music

Music

The activities undertaken by Kippenberger and Oehlen in the upcoming New Wave and Geniale Dilletanten (Genius Amateurs) movements were focused on expanded cross-genre constellations. In 1978 Kippenberger opened Kippenberger’s Office in Berlin, a kind of mini factory, and he became the co-owner of the music club SO36. Together with the New York No-Wave filmmaker Eric Mitchell and musician Christine Hahn, he launched the band project Luxus in 1979, involving wild appropriation, anti-aesthetic amateurism, and a provocative game with targeted bad taste – all of which can be heard on the double A-sided single published at the time.

At the same time Albert Oehlen was active in Hamburg’s New Wave circles. He made contributions with a saxophone and a xylophone to the band Nachdenkliche Wehrpflichtige (Thoughtful Conscripts) and later also the formations LSDAP/AO and Männer in nassen Kleidern (Men in Wet Clothes), which were founded for a record project.

Neither Kippenberger nor Oehlen saw making music as a parallel activity with no connection to their art. Rather it was like the extended arm of painting, with a potential for physical gesture, self-ironic showmanship, and to embrace embarrassment that painting could only offer to a limited extent. As an independent element in their artistic production, music was not preliminary to other genres nor did it follow them in second place. Instead, what mattered was the »enjoyment and development of our own alienation and rechanneling it as a strength,«[1] as this form of self-diversification was once fittingly described.

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In the mid-1980s, Kippenberger’s considerable musical endeavors gained their greatest resonance. In projects undertaken together with Albert Oehlen (and others), such as Rache der Erinnerung (The Revenge of Memory; LP of the same name, 1984), The Alma Band, Weiß und Doof (White and Stupid), and The Knowhow Knockers, the artist aimed to pursue music in ever new orbits that knew no stylistic limitations. Oehlen was and still is active in very diverse musical contexts – as a member of the »third« reincarnation of The Red Krayola for a short time in the mid-1990s, in the formation entitled Van Oehlen with his brother Markus around the year 2000, and most recently in the techno and electronic genre under the pseudonym Wendy Gondeln.

Both Kippenberger’s and Oehlen’s music projects are characterized by an uncompromising cacophonic drive that rejects all forms of tonal balance and formal coherence.[2] The extent to which their joint ventures were intended to achieve this is shown in exhibition titles like My Mother Was a Friend of the Enemy of the People (Peter Pakesch Gallery, Vienna, 1984), named for the 1980 single by the British band Blurt, My Mother Was a Friend of an Enemy of the People.



1 Diedrich Diederichsen, »Der Selbstdarsteller. Martin Kippenberger zwischen 1977 und 1983,« in Eva Meyer-Hermann, Susanne Neuburger (ed.), Nach Kippenberger, Vienna 2003, p. 56.

2 On the joint basis of music and painting in the German post-punk context see Diedrich Diederichsen, »Intensität – Negation – Klartext,« in cat. Zurück zum Beton. Die Anfänge von Punk und New Wave in Deutschland 1977–’82, Cologne 2002, pp. 143 f.

Author: Christian Höller

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In the Exhibition

In the Exhibition

The Alma Band

Performance at the matinee of Christan Ludwig Attersee in the 20er Haus Vienna, 16. 12. 1984, with Herbert Brandl (guit.), Josef Danner (perc.), Martin Kippenberger (voc.), Albert Oehlen (guit.), Markus Oehlen (dr.), 3:05 min

Film: Peter Kasperak

During the exhibition at the Peter Pakesch Gallery in 1984, Kippenberger’s and Oehlen’s Alma Band performed on December 16 in Vienna’s Museum of the Twentieth Century – with Herbert Brandl (guitar), Josef Danner (percussion), and Markus Oehlen (drums). At the Attersee Matinee (named for painter Christian Ludwig Attersee, who organized a series of concerts with invited guests), the Alma Band presented a provocative morning concert, of the kind that would not just offend Vienna sensitivities. Brandl and Albert Oehlen attempted to hold a maximally distorted and »dirty« basic chord on their electric guitars. Markus Oehlen and Danner persistently hammered out an unsubtle and jerky beat. And Kippenberger was at his best: as if he had been bitten by a tarantula, he presented a mix of punk ecstasy, anarchic St. Vitus’s dance, and self-parodying modern dance dribbling. Al(bert)-Ma(rtin) at the height of their concert career.

Author:

Christian Höller