International House Of Cozy
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@ Showroom MAMA (Rotterdam) May 2015
International House of Cozy
On May 15, the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands of Amalia Ulman (1989 AR) opens at Showroom MAMA. ‘International House of Cozy’ includes a film especially produced for MAMA in which she takes her research into the boundaries of authenticity and consumerism to its extreme. The title also refers to a feeling of coziness and ‘home’ as marketed through lifestyle blogs and websites such as Airbnb.
After watching a corporate hipster informercial where product placement and creative-industry-lifestyle referencing was almost obscene, my first reaction was to make a porn. “Wouldn’t a porn look fantastic in this set up: in between the Bonne Maman jam jars and the issues of Art Forum; with a conversation about Soho House as dirty talk”.
Is it a critique on porn? A critique on advertisement?
Porn has not been used as a means to make the video seem shocking or more edgy, quite the opposite. To bring this aesthetic, those conversations, that sort of video editing, color palette, corporate ukulele music, retro logos and indie fonts into the realm of the pornographic, is to normalize it, to finally consider it mainstream and therefore corporate. This comes from an interest in the idea of the invisible, of the template. The things we are no longer able to see. That’s why numerous wavy willows quietly decorate the exhibition space (as they reference a previous essay on objects, class and appearances Buyer, Walker, Rover, 2013).
This "rise and fall” kind of cycle where, through repetition and replication, a formula that started as a signifier of “good taste” (the hipster infomercial) can become something of utter bad taste, or normalcy, fascinates me. It all goes down to class, aesthetics and the thin line that separates good and bad taste. This pornographic video elevates and corrupts the original version of the hipster advertisement previously mentioned, through exaggeration, into a grotesque caricature of itself.
After watching IHOC once, our eyes get readjusted, or perception refurbished and everything, in a way, becomes bad taste: hierarchies temporarily destroyed.