Kitsch Summer Blowout

September, 2020

An e-Show Investigating:
- What kitsch aesthetics reveal
- How kitsch aesthetics reflect personal narrative
- How kitsch aesthetics translate globally
- Ways kitsch aesthetics can be disguised
- Ways kitsch aesthetics take on “high kitsch” roles
Contributing Artists
Best in Show: Rachael Bos
Honorable Mentions: Augustina Wang, Dante Cioffoletti, Ellery Bryan
Selected Artists: 
Drew Dodge, TÅHUME DUO, Tanja Kapoglou, Alexis Novak, Jess Pemberton, Mia Scarpa, Kate Tatsumi, Qinru Zhang
Doily, 2020 
Rachael Bos 
My work functions as a formal and conceptual investigation into the limits of painting and the mediation of images and objects through the use of trompe l’oeil. I am interested in creating work that embodies an experience that sits between being deceived and enlightened. This moment of passage leads the viewer to a self-consciousness about their perception, as well as a pleasure in discovering their mistake. Because the notion of deception put forth in my work is guaranteed to be overcome, the viewer is never actually deceived nor do they ever achieve enlightenment. A self-consciousness about perception and consequently reality has extreme relevance in the digital age, and I believe a manual means of investigation is crucial in allowing for an intimacy between the work and the viewer that extends beyond optics. I create seemingly loaded images in hopes of equalizing form and subject. The work functions both as a non-objective or purely design-oriented image in the flatly rendered center and then, as the view is expanded, as a painstakingly delicate still life.
>> Kitsch aesthetics have most often been used as a joke or irony, but through the flaw of irony (the song of the bird that has learned to love its cage), kitsch aesthetics reveal that they embody an exaggeration of and allows for honesty in our culture. I believe that kitsch aesthetics act as a platform for vulnerability and can potentially be some of the most genuine and honest art.
Mother's Day, 2020 
Augustina Wang
I am a 20 year old Asian-American femme born and raised in New York City. My work is a subversion of cyberpunk ideals-- rather than a hyper-capitalist dystopia filled with Asian themes, I am focused on creating a digital utopia for Asian characters who live in excess. This "excess," however, is not capitalistic excess of physical wealth or resources, but rather an abundance of beauty or pastoral fantasy. I am critiquing that very nature of (Asian) "utopia" by having my work center itself in the "manic," where things seem too perfect or too energetic. I am interested in uncovering the lonesomeness embedded in mania, in utopia. Especially in a post-COVID world, the discussion around utopia and dystopia is more relevant than ever. And, as COVID is infamously known as the "Chinese virus," the discourse on cyberpunk also becomes more pertinent. Cyberpunk is rooted in Asian racism-- it is a fear that the white world will become "re-colonized" by Asians into a hyper-capitalist accelerationist hell-scape. My work attempts to subvert these fears by creating a ghost-like, heavenly world for digital Asian bodies (despite however unobtainable it may be).
>> I personally utilize the "kitsch" as a show of graphic perfection. The heart (❤️️) is a symbol I utilize a lot in my paintings, because it is a graphic representation of a raw emotion that is love. Despite "love" being a sensation that is hard to describe or illustrate, marketing has allowed ❤️️ to become the universal language of love. It is "kitsch" to use symbols like these in paintings, because it's garish/poor-taste, but it's for this reason that I chose to use it. ❤️️ is the perfect representation of love, just as lawn flamingoes are pinker than real flamingos; despite however perfect it may be, it is fake, plastic, and designed by a person. This very nature of kitsch proves how ghost-like or dubious happiness or utopia may be.
Tea Time at Grandmas, 2019
Dante Cioffoletti
I aim to remove the cold and sterile feeling of peeing in a urinal by creating a cozy and friendly user experience.
>> I am currently studying textiles, and I strive to create work that is ornate, campy, and above all, fun. I like to take my work very seriously while still staying frivolous and silly.
Self-Summoning, 2019
Ellery Bryan
In this video-documented performance, the artist expands upon the invisible language of ritual to include their audience with the aid of self-aware humor and animation. With each layered addition, the metaphorical function of action and sacred performance appears on screen, allowing the viewer to enter into magic and interact with the blurred boundaries of the material world with insistent belief.
>> Ellery Bryan is a nonbinary visual artist working primarily with ritual and temporality. Their artwork manifests in tactile objects, written and verbal text, film and video. They are based in Baltimore, Maryland and currently attend Syracuse University’s Art Video graduate program.
>> For me, kitsch provides a familiar tactile and visual language that bridges the personal and the universal by incorporating humor and context, unsettling the high art canon. Kitsch is an important facet of making my work legible to viewers without a formal arts background, which is one of the most important functions of my relationship to art-making. It opens up broader playful interpretation at the same time that is can reference vital cultural frameworks for the expression of loss, family, faith, and intimate methods of loving. My personal relationship to kitsch stems from an upbringing in folk catholicism blended with Americana aesthetics, incorporating the accessible and the attempt at the formal, the trendy and the deeply personal. Its role in creating an broad interface for the grandiose and monolithic is pivotal to a universal understanding of what it means to make a hegemonic or out-of-reach symbol something that can exist in proximity to yourself.
How to Find Guidance, 2015
Alexis Novak
>> Alexis Novak is a human woman living in Baltimore Maryland. She attended Rowan University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. She delights in bringing opulent weirdness to the masses while taking a critical look at societal norms. Like a whispered secret through a mouth full of potato salad. You can smell the miracle whip and you can hear the venom.
>> My personal relationship with the kitsch aesthetic largely revolves around stuff, junk, and garbage, aka priceless treasures. These tchotchkes are perfect for projecting meaning onto in a way that is very personal viewer to viewer, because each individual has their own appreciation or dislike of kitsch. Not to say that these objects themselves weren't constructed with meaning, but the meaning is very shallow. Like the majority of things any person encounters day to day they were meant to be appreciate on a surface level and they were meant to be bought. In this way the kitsch aesthetic is universally relatable because kitsch is in all aspects of life.
The Doers, 2020
Tanja Kapoglou
“The Doers” deals with the general theme of happiness and self-fulfillment and the social command for hyper-productivity, motivation and everyday forced happiness ignoring the natural circle of life and excluding modes of existing that are considered counter-productive. On the one side wellness culture and on the other the Autonomists with their cry for self-determination, transparency and immediacy, exciting and optimistic but thought to be too idealistic and near-impossible to implement most of the times, and on the other the contemporary wellness culture reinforced to gigantic proportions by the social media glorifies “well-being” so much that it forgets to think about actual wellbeing, ironically both point to similar directions more than they care to know. There is also a nod to the myth of Sisyphus and his unending, insufferable and illogical routine I have extensively studied and referenced some symbols from Ancient Greek healing rituals and conceptually corresponding music.
>> The purpose of my personal artistic explorations is to locate,reform, understand, recontextualize, and play with all these mechanisms of civilisation that nurture us, normalise us, educate us, organise us, make us productive and functional, but also irreparably traumatise us, confuse us and fill us with guilt. I am interested in mapping the journey through this production line that takes us from the innocent, neutral state of infancy/childhood and tries to forcefully put us into one-size-fits all moulds, no matter if this means that we end up broken,so that one day we find ourselves in the middle of the road, tantalisingly puzzled and alienated.
❤️💛💚💙💜, 2020
Jess Pemberton (Sound by Oh Mr James)​​​​​​​
This video considers the nature of digital space through kitsch collage aesthetics.
>> Jess Pemberton is a Collage Artist who works in both analogue and digital forms. Her central concern is the spatial nature of digital worlds and asking: what do we disconnect from, without ourselves, when we connect to the digital sphere? She explores the similarity between trees and humanity through code, web art and animation.
>> Kitsch aesthetics reveal humour in any subject matter, lighthearted-ness, critical analysis through saturation of the thing itself. Kitsch aesthetics translates globally because it is generally based around symbols and bold colour
“WORK OF ART” is a reflection on the role of the artist as professional, the artist-as-genius and the societal assumptions that surround them. Working with pagan rituals, symbols, tools, miming and mass culture references as well as through over-identification we interrogate for the shortcomings of the contemporary art milieu. We are commenting on the generally accepted perception around progress, success and industriousness but also taking part in the debate around the ideology of exhibition spaces generally known as “institutional critique.”
>> TÅHUME, Tanja Kapoglou and Vangelis Tzolakis, is an artist duo formed in 2017, based between London,UK and Athens,Greece. What they are caressing is material or immaterial material one can touch or see, it is still and moving, one can hear it or smell it but not taste it yet. One can dance with it as well. TÅHUME's main concerns are everyday life, philosophy of art/aesthetics, European politics, History, Greek, Mediterranean, Balkan, European, Global South identity (and others), Institutional critique and emigration. It also wants to bring art to all the people, diffused throughout society, so that life can finally become art, and art can become life. Its interests and research usually lead to the realisation of videos, installations, performances, text-based works and sound. It intends to be somewhat nomadic when it gets the opportunity.
High School Girl Miharuko, 2020
Qinru Zhang
Miharuko lives as a cat during the nighttime. When the sun rises, Miharuko becomes a high school student, wears her uniform, and packs quickly to go to school. She lives a normal life just like any other high school girl.
>> Qinru Zhang studies film, animation, and computational arts, and investigates the deconstruction and reshaping of reality and fantasy, of time and space, and of intimate and alienated relationships.
>> The kitsch style can be as simple as the visual diary of someone's past. Kitsch elements can naturally appear as the concrete representation of a cultural memory that has influenced the artist.
Prom, 2020
Drew Dodge
"Prom" sacrifices sincerity by indulging in aesthetic economies, converting vacant celebration cakes into receptive commodified assets holding cultural power.​​​​​​​
>> Drew Dodge is an interdisciplinary artist working in video, sculpture, and painting based in Providence, Rhode Island. He investigates digital intimacy, sexuality, and memory as he combines digital realms with physical objects, exploring the sensitivities of the human body. He obscures communication and studies online sociality by extruding beloved scatological detritus from the bowels of the Internet into the eyes of his audience. His work is rooted in naive internet experiences, childhood desires, cultural production, prank, and the plasticity of genericized consumerism.
I'm Like This:, 2020
Mia Scarpa
>> My work explores the relational distinction between art & craft and the inherent hierarchical value given to the word “Art”, while “craft” holds a different & often lesser connotation. The work is very material-based & I focus on things such as detail-work (in relation to craft), humor, decoration/ornamentation, toys, album covers, cartoons, symbols, treasured objects, memories, connections, home, comfort, and other seemingly unconnected things. I often incorporate unique references in regard to imagery, they range from the specific, to the purposeful, to the literal, to the completely ambiguous. I struggle with the notion that a lot of contemporary art consists of painting that appears like outsider art, but is not. I feel that my work somehow fits into this strange in-between category.
Vagina Room, 2017 
Kate Tatsumi
Vagina Room is about the mystery of the vagina, a part of the woman that is often scrutinized and evasive in its imagery. The work utilizes pink to overemphasize the illusion of the inside of the woman. The installation is aesthetically not true to anatomy. The room is completely pink and immersive, the participant is enveloped. They are invited to sit on the clitoris and examine their reflection in the hand mirrors. Through the act of self examination, the participant is able to reflect on their relationship to gender and become part of a larger dialog of the enigma of the vagina. This idea came from me thinking about the power of looking, self examination and how shared descriptions of the vagina are scarce. This mystery gave me the liberty to create a fantastical representation with abundant ornamentation and excess.
>> Kate Tatsumi was born in 1991 in California and identifies as a Hapa Women. In 2017, she graduated with her BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and she currently lives and works in Los Angeles. My practice in interactive sculpture, video, and installation questions and explores feminine stereotypes by utilizing feminist language and irony. By challenging the culturally normative sexualized female body, the work lies between essentialist and constructivist feminism. Using pop culture references and forms of breasts and vaginas, my work critiques the social constructs of gender and femininity. Commercialization and fetishization of the young female body in advertising and the feminine product produced and distributed through the media are important by-products in my work. White feminism and the prominence and problematics of the white female world star in western culture are themes I am exploring. My overall practice critiques the socialized associations with the feminine, explores gender roles and encourages feminist dialogues.