Saturday, 8 October 2011

"Kitsch" and culture I (G. Dorfles)

Gillo Dorfles (
"Culture can become part of the process of industrialization that has now, so relentless, extended its ramifications to all productive sectors. And by saying 'production' it is clear that I intend to extend the meaning not only to the material production, but also to the intellectual, social, etc. Production of 'consumer goods' then, but also images, art objects, as the shares of any other consumable product. 

And it is precisely on this consumability and their ability to be consider as the 'spiritual bread' the same way as the material which covers the question of industrialization of culture, or of a culture that is, little by little - and perhaps, in the future, globally - industrialized. The art and culture, in fact, in their becoming increasingly the prey of the industrialized production and consummation process, in their frequent loss of intentionality, are likely to become an element that is the opposite of art and that is usually now defined by the German word Kitsch.

[...] However, if the taste was to be discussed at length and in depth, if there are, in turn, some similarities to physio-psychological analogies between aesthetic sense and taste, [...] what had been done instead is to  address the question of a possible 'phenomenology of bad taste', comparing it with 'good taste'. Understanding precisely such 'bad taste' (or Kitsch) as something tied not only to products - objects, art works - which possess peculiar features, but also linked to the very user, ie the individual 'with a bad taste' , thus establishing a kind of phenomenological question addressed to a particular class of individuals having the property and the good fortune (or misfortune?) to enjoy the works of art with a particular attitude of 'bad taste', then taken to benefit also from original artwork in a wrong, erroneous, fake way. This fact seems to me really the crux of the problem, to turn from an examination of the object of bad taste to the person who enjoys 'in bad taste' any object. In this way, along with works of art (or pseudo-art) of bad taste, we would have 'men of bad taste' (Kitschmenschen) and moreover we will assimilate this class of individuals as a particular category of users in a certain sense opposed to cultural and artistic elite; that elite which is, or should be, the custodian of the most updated and refined 'taste of the time'."  

Dorfles, Gillo (2003) Nuovi riti, nuovi miti. Milano: Skira.

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