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R. L. oder die Königin von Saba/R. L. or The Queen of Saba, 1998, Detail der Installation in der Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover 1998  
  R.L. or the Queen of Sheba, 1998

R.L. became Kutscher's model for the Queen of Sheba. She is a Black woman who lived in Switzerland – a situation that did not work out. R.L. eventually returned to Ethiopia.

Kutscher sculpted R.L. as an oversized female bust figure with closed eyes. He drew inspiration from African portraits of women and from the timeless face of Nofretete, thus alluding to the Egyptian tradition in Ethiopia. The work possesses a beauty that is at once concrete and ideal, natural and an artificial, unreal and real.

Kutscher placed the wax bust on a revolving disc atop a high wooden pedestal. Wax and wood are traditional African export commodities. Positioned opposite the bust on a transparent plastic base were a video projector and a computer. Seven coloured, framed plaster models of the Queen of Sheba on a revolving disc comprised the motif of the film that was projected by video onto the wax bust. The plaster models represented the queen at seven different ages, with her eyes open in some cases, closed in others.

Kutscher's work focuses on the theme of beauty and mortality. He confronts an exaggerated ideal of youthful beauty with a model of ageing in beauty and dignity. At the same time, the representation of a Black woman is liberated from the usual clichés. Materials that stand for the "First World" and the "Third World" remain in juxtaposition.

Viewers who wished to move closer to the projected were prevented from doing so by two motion sensors. When these were set off, the film projection was interrupted and a blue light was cast upon the bust. The film did not begin again until the proper distance was restored. Limits were imposed on a relationship. Closeness and distance were visualised as a process of approach and retreat.

Peter Forster