Rachael Cheong & Sheryll Goh
Why are we fascinated yet repulsed by kitsch? Kitsch looks and feels cheap. We think of products churned out with little thought that nobody needs or desires. It is always agreeable, and leeches on sentimentality for an instant connection with the onlooker.
But kitsch is also deceptive. One can appreciate the aesthetic features of kitsch, while also captivated by its emotional charge. A blend of earnestness, coyness and cunning culminates into a peculiar kind of gravity that draws one in. These qualities peek through the vulgar façade of kitsch. We intend to excavate this façade. We see ourselves as frenemies of kitsch. We seek to uncover its wily ways and search for loopholes to doctor its course.
This became a tricky process of reverse engineering, which first required us to revisit rose-tinted childhood memories that laid the foundation to our wonderment with kitsch.
Our challenge was to keep a safe distance from the subject matter, dissecting every image and object with a coroner’s gaze. Listed below are key questions and research milestones that have guided our investigation. These findings have culminated in a set of 6 Awkward Party images and gifs which highlight and parody the essence of Singaporean kitsch, centered around communal dining and celebrations.
A social gathering for the awkward / a group of people made to feel awkward / a facetious statement about looking at the world through awkwardly shaped glasses.
The Party is caught between its fascination with bad taste and a desire to put forth high quality work validated by social norms. It never takes itself too seriously. The Party investigates notions of awkwardness through parodies of cultural kitsch, evocative of nostalgic family gatherings and festive celebrations.
The Party embraces discomfort. Always evolving, at times it is a hybrid object, a reluctant group of people, a sentimental environment or all of the above. It is a safe space to be vulnerable and self-reflective.
AWKWARD PARTY is Fashion Designer Rachael Cheong and Visual Artist Sheryll Goh.