Taste was not all the exhibit I took in today had lapses in. Though I was not at all offended by the exhibit,
, I have to say the gallery oozed hypocrisy and came up short on self-reflection and fairness.
To set the scene. Some director of a Stuttgart museum established a “complex system” for categorizing lapses in taste. In 1909. Fast forward 100+ years, and now some regional curators thought it would be fun to explore this complex system in the context of current design trends. You can see how this might be a recipe for disaster.
The first phase of the exhibit invited the public to offer up their own tokens of bad taste, such as the ubiquitous “thank you for housesitting/dogsitting/holding the mail” tchtocke; in this case, a small vase from München.
This token made me laugh aloud. The blurry figure is Father Time, “tick-tocking” back and forth across the bed. Ahem. First of all, what company would manufacture this clock? And second, what cretin would think this is a great gift idea?
The curator-designed portion of the exhibit was organized according to the “complex system.” From the original category of “Travel Souvenir Kitsch,” the following items were deemed to be in “bad taste.”
I happen to agree with curators on this choice; however, I did wonder why the Empress Elizabeth tee-shirt and the “Gustav Klimt” tea, oh-so-prevalent in Vienna, were not also considered “Travel Souvenir Kitsch?”
Ditto for snow globes. Did the curators not know that snow globes were invented in Vienna?
A category of “Contemporary Mistakes” has been added to the complex system and includes the usual hot-button topics. Electronics and CFC light bulbs are environmental pollution and in bad taste. Same for bamboo wood single-use chopsticks.
Sexist tchtocke is in bad form, as well. Anyone for a mousepad with buttocks?
In the categories of “Design Failure” and “Patent Humor” were these gems.
A nasal-septum separation device, the purpose of which I could not discern.
But this nasal-septum separation device also made me laugh aloud.
Ah, yes. Racism. “Washing-up Sponges” with afros? Bad taste.
“Afro Coffee” that one can find at petrol stations up and down the Austrian autobahn? Good taste.
Thankfully my visit was nearing the end when I spied this final collection of Propoganda Kitsch, or else I would have drowned in the hypocrisy.
“German Heroes Cream” from 1914? Bad taste.
Austrian children as propaganda in The Great War? Good taste.