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weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

'Kitsch is the opposite of the public space, of the public conversation, of the demand for objectivity and functionality. Kitsch is the intimate space, our selves, our love and our congeniality, our yearnings and our hopes, and our tears, joys and passion. Kitsch comes from the creative person’s private space, and speaks to other private spaces. Kitsch deals therefore with giving intimacy dignity.'

These are the thoughts of artist Odd Nerdrum, self-published in ArtNews in April 2000 as a challenge to the modernist art establishment (we culled it from Giornale Nuovo’s typically well-illustrated and composed post on Nerdrum's paintings). Nerdrum has obviously given the nature of kitsch a great deal of thought, concluding that the modernist characterisation of kitsch as 'bad taste' was a useful device for dismissing work which didn't conform to progressive ideals, regardless of the level of skill demonstrated in its execution: 'You mean then that the word 'art' became used as an attack against craftsmanship and thus against the representational and the sensual?'

Walking around the pound shops of South London at the weekend gave us similar grounds for dissent. Just what is it that separates the knowingly kitsch object - of the type that fill the shops, most especially at Christmas - from the irredeemably tasteless? Not a lot, we'd wager. Context is everything: the dancing Santa might have been amusing for a scant micro-second, but stacked in rows and given a light coating of sticky pound shop dust, the object swiftly becomes tragic.

Yet we're all Post-Ironic Consumers now, with responses determined almost entirely by the external environment, not our internal compasses. This allows the knowingly kitsch object to be constantly re-packaged and re-positioned. High fashion has known this for ages, and its flirtations with kitsch grow increasingly overt (the latest issue of Berlin-based uber-glossy Qvest places the subject on its cover). That which once defined kitsch - the different strata of taste and sophistication - no longer exists. High and low culture are conjoined in their love of the fleetingly peripheral, outsider art embraced and rejected in a matter of minutes. William Shatner is recording a new album, a perfect symbol of the Post-Ironic Age.

Other things, kitsch or not. The photography of Jem Southam. Very No Place. Sort of related: images of parking garages by David Adam / Kill from the Heart, hardcore punk rock around the world / fresh scans of kitsch delights at Ephemera Now / the art and illustration of FWIS, via Coudal / the work of Matthew Cusick, crisp architecturaly-themed paintings about modernism, elegance and disaster (sources).

Nobody's Doll, a weblog / creativity/machine, a weblog / historical images of Alaska / a day in the life of Africa, a photo-essay / 'Japanese firm crashes into charts' - pop success for Japanese demolition company Nihon Break Kogyo's corporate anthem (an mp3 of the track is linked at Achikochi). The BBC characterises it as punk, but I really beg to differ / Screenonline, the British Film Institute's archive site, via rogue semiotics.