Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Raw Materials

Ed Ruscha, Annie poured with Maple Syrup, Ed Ruscha, The Music from the Balconies, Ed Ruscha, The End,  Ed Ruscha, Name Address, Phone, Lawrence Wiener, Smashed to Pieces in the Still of the Night, Jenny Holzer, Lustmord, 1993, Jenny Holzer, Turism T-Shirt, Jenny Holzer, Kriegszustand

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Good Bad Taste: Kitsch as a Middle Class Occupation

A friend of mine recently explained to me the phenomena of the 'ironic holiday', a trend in the young 'upper middle classes' to purposely holiday at seemingly 'kitsch' destinations popular with the 'working class' population. I have been repulsed and fascinated by this concept ever since. Here the invisible borders of the 'working class' spaces and the 'middle class' spaces are broken only to prove that they are impenetrable. For the choice to drink from the communal well of kitsch only serves to justify the rigid differences of the social classes. Kitsch's apolitical mask, its pretence to "demand nothing of its customers except their money”[1] renders this occupation more seductive, it is a playfully consumerist occupation, but an occupation nonetheless. 

Yet when I was sorting through the photographs on my laptop I realised how many of my photos unintentionally seem to fall into the brackets of 'kitsch'. They are gaudy, harshly lit and generally showcasing some form of novelty item. They document replica engagement rings of Lady Di and stolen Nicki Minaj posters in a council estate in Whitechapel. Much like the 'ironic holiday' they are both intrinsically tied to the physical world of space and place whilst also being entirely ahistorical. This is the sense that through kitsch we could be anywhere at any time. The photography of kitsch exaggerates this sense of displaced Otherness, providing a safe sense of removal for the viewer. 

However, I am reluctant to draw a total comparison between my work and the 'ironic holiday'. Does actually being the actual inhabiter of this environment differentiate me from the occupier? Or in the act of reproducing the replica am I wilfully distancing myself from my heritage? Either way in these strange, uncertain times there is a safety in kitsch, a sense of continuity in the fact that “kitsch changes according to style but remains always the same."

[1] Clement Greenberg, Avant Garde and Kitsch (1939)
[2] Ibid. 

'Christmas at Bristol Parkway Station', December 2011, 'Woman wearing Princess Diana Replica Engagement Ring from Primark on the Day of the Royal Wedding', March 2011, 'Royal Wedding Cupcakes, Tea Towel and Princess Diana  Replica Engagement Ring from Primark', March 2011, 'Shop Window', December 2011, 'Stolen Nicki Minaj Poster in Whitechapel', July 2011, 'My Cousins's Bedroom', December 2011, 'Waterfront Menu', April 2012, 'Rambo Arcade Game', April 2012, 'Lorrain's Tea Bar', April 2012, 'Welcome Sign in Whitechapel', September 2011.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Sick Swell

Stills from Ilya Khrjanovsky's 4 (2005), Louise Bourgeois (1978), Max Oppenheim and Bill Turpin's 'Black Hole' photoshoot for 125 magazine, unknown source, still from Georges Franju's 'Eyes Without a Face', Gabriel von Max, 'The Ecstatic Virgin Anna Katharina Emmerich' (1885) Ruth Bernhard 'Hips Horizontal' (1975), Vitto Acconci 'Conversions I-III (1971), 'Rosemary's Baby', image from Count Rickulas Sinema Sarcophagus 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

milk teeth

Here is some of the art I have been working on in the past month or so.  As I leave the confines of art school I find myself drifting away from art that is 'clever', art that needs a two page hand out in the gallery to understand, art that only makes sense to the tiny majority of people who have actually read Walter Benjamin. I don't think I want to make work like that anymore.
Oh yeah um in other news I set up a tumblr to store my photography. Whilst I certainly don't consider myself a 'photographer' (like at all) it's something I enjoy and reflects some of my interests (working class culture, tourism, and so on) that I don't really get to explore so much in my art or writing. So a look if you want!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Curating Girlhood

It was such a nice surprise to return home from travelling to see these awesome pictures of the Strange Magic show on Rookie. The show looks absolutely wonderful. When I see Tavi's shrine work I see what a critically astute curator she is, manipulating found objects of the corporate construction of girlhood to create a new language for teenage girls. It's particularly interesting that the teenage bedroom took centre stage, for at the heart of Rookie is the desire to reverse the traditional structure of girlhood. This is the belief that girlhood is a shameful secret place to be hidden from sight. Tavi, in the Strange Magic Show, and in her Rookie Road Trip as a whole, continues to challenge this structure, evident in her reapplying the aesthetics of adolescence to the outside world of the exhibition opposed to the inside world of the family home or school. For the fact that these works are displayed in a gallery is crucial to the ethos of the show. The culture of girlhood has been traditionally perceived as insipid and superficial, evident in such satirical works as Charlie White's OMG BFF LOL. However, this perception is not denied, it is playfully exaggertaed, thus the fears of the teenage girl, her sexual desires, her strange pubescent powers, her plastic artifice are not merely acknowledged but amplified. Here in teenage girl digital culture lies the future of contemporary curation. 

Photos of my 'Period Pants' piece in the Strange Magic show by Avery Hunsberger and Petra from Rookie Magazine