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A Question of Taste
By Ulya Soley
A Question of Taste
Pera Museum, Istanbul
23 February – 6 June 2021
A Question of Taste is a group exhibition that deals with kitsch, a concept whose meaning has shifted since the 19th century, and the intimate relationship this concept has established with today’s visual culture as well as its critical role in shaping taste.
The word kitsch, which has been used to describe cheap and popular paintings or sketches in post-industrial Germany, gradually transformed into a complex concept that found its place in various languages, untranslated. In this era when diversity, ambiguity, and ineffability are sanctified, can kitsch be a tool to carry these values forward? Could thinking about avant-garde and kitsch side-by-side rather than in opposition —by looking closely at contemporary art’s relations with the collective aspects of mass culture, rather than considering mass culture as unsubstantial, banal and inferior, and trying to explore the ties between them— agitate the existing structure of class society?
Curated by Ulya Soley, A Question of Taste brings together works of Alex Da Corte & Jayson Musson, Bruno Miguel, Cameron Askin, FAILE, Farah Al Qasimi, Gülsün Karamustafa, Hayırlı Evlat, Miao Ying, Nick Cave, Olia Lialina & Mike Tyka, Pierre et Gilles, Slavs and Tatars, and Volkan Aslan. It deals with the blurred boundaries between “high art” and “mass culture”, and looks at the aesthetic values ascribed to the East and the West. In the exhibition, masculinist and elitist approaches that have traditionally shaped taste are challenged by feminist and queer aesthetics. A Question of Taste aims to explore the rich uses of the concept of kitsch, based on the relationship between art and visual culture that has been shaped on the internet, in the context of a generational transition from material culture to digital culture. The exhibition was developed from the proposal worked on at the Curatorial Intensive in Bangkok in 2018.
About the Curator
Ulya Soley works at Pera Museum as a project manager and contributes to the Museum’s exhibitions and publications as a curator and editor. She completed her MA in Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, and her BA in Art History and Psychology at McGill University. Recently, she curated the digital exhibition “You Look Familiar” as part of the British Council’s Curatorial Residency Program. Her past curatorial projects include “Katherine Behar: Data’s Entry” and “Bring Your Own Beamer” at Pera Museum, “Waiting Room” at South London Gallery, and “Stereo-Reality” as part of Proto5533’s emerging curators program. Her writing appeared in printed and online publications such as Pine Magazine, UQ, The Believer Logger, Istanbul Art News and Sanatatak. She is an AICA member, and co-founder of the publication project “Stimuli”.