Harry and Harry Kipper, performance artists, stress the visual, the visceral, and the violent aspects of social rituals, with a feeling for the relationship between ordered social rituals and conventions and the festering violence that lies beneath the facade of mannered behavior. From silly but seriously performed rituals, the work progresses to ever more extreme actions.
Harry and Harry Kipper are portrayed by Brian Routh and Martin von Haselberg. Both artists attended E. 15 Drama School in London, and began performing together in 1971.
Martin von Haselberg spoke with MOCAtv about the genesis of Kipper Kids, and here is their history in his own words:
Brian and I met in drama school in London and discovered that we had a very weird sort of synchronicity that manifested itself when we played these improvised, made-up characters. After doing them for a while there came a day when suddenly the character that he was doing and the character that I was doing became identical. It was a weird thing -- that these two characters suddenly locked and became one.
We tried to create a situation for the Harry Kipper character (the Kipper Kids were both called Harry Kipper,) so we made these shows, called ceremonies, that were inspired by Japanese tea ceremonies and Ichibana. We made these very stylized performances that consisted of a series of ceremonies as the Kipper Kids: just shaved heads, prosthetic noses and chins, jockstraps, and these large industrial iron smelting boots that we found in some uniform shop in Hamburg in the 70s.
We started in London, then we went to the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 as part of this huge international culture event that was part of the Games, and from there we went to Amersterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt -- all over for years, non-stop. We came to America by invitation from David Ross who was the video director for the Long Beach Musuem of Art. We then came to California and were based there.
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