10 000 Spoons When All You Need Is A Knife. Gabrielle Alberts at Blank
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Kitsch is an odd phenomenon. It is a whole category of production that is defined not by those who produce or consume it, but by those who look down upon it as bad taste. Then of course, kitsch made a comeback as good taste, tempered with a healthy dose of irony (the ironic mindset is a hideout for severe dissociation from the world). Think of the resurgence of kitsch in clothing (eg. Thrift store dress), in music (eg. Max Normal), art (eg. Tretchikoff Retrospective) and even in furniture and kitchen appliances ("It's so ugly just fell in love with it"). It's seen as a little iconoclastic, the sexy lowbrow, fucking like the masses while still showing superior taste as communicated by irony. But what it really belies is a misplaced nostalgia, or at least a nostalgia for a past one never really experienced, a place where mom made rusks and Cabbage worked the garden quietly. Or at least a yearning for a simpler world. This, I guess, is the real irony: Bad Taste symbolises Good Times.
I was quite charmed then, walking into Gabrielle Alberts recent show at blank, Fine Art. It was a collection of thrift store paintings by amateur artists, kitsch as all hell. I was charmed, not because it confirmed my notions above, but because it walked a fine line between them. The reason it pulled off was that I perceived a sincerity in it, and a respect for the objects. Without the irony, it came across more as an anthropological study of Sunday painters. It seemed to say that people really believe in the power of images to express emotions, be it lust, love for a canine, or the mysterious sublime of the Karoo, without resorting to a smug irony. And, in a sweet twist of irony, I yearned for that simpler world. Dammit.