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robertogreco : normcore   5

Must We Forfeit Our Ghee? | Hazlitt
"But where did this pattern—of a Western norm hoovering up bits of “ethnic culture” and, often, spitting them back out in the form of expensive “artisanal” products, from bindis to Chinese medicine to the accouterments of Rastafarianism—come from? The answer, I think, goes beyond some oblivious if well-meaning white people. Not to be the sort of person who liberally uses terms like “late capitalism,” but… late capitalism really has done a rather good job of making the world seem somewhat homogenous. I’ve sat just north of New Delhi discussing Friends while eating McDonald’s in front of a Domino’s Pizza. I’ve had Starbucks in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, and even seen a Tim Hortons cup lying on an Irish country road. You can find the world you want almost anywhere.

In such a sea of uniformity, however, it’s hard to mark oneself out through individual tastes. You can eschew The Big Bang Theory in favour of The Fall on Netflix, or choose arthouse cinema over Michael Bay, but thanks to the web and the accelerated pace at which the niche becomes mainstream, finding one’s uniqueness in conspicuously consuming the unknown cool thing has become infinitely harder.

Where we end up is the fetish for authenticity. As Johannah King-Slutzky wrote in a brilliant essay on “normcore food,” what modern consumer culture craves more than any other thing is purity—the untouched or unknown thing that, brought to light, evokes a history that is more natural or authentic. Craving and consuming the authentic in such a fashion lets us define ourselves in relation to a set of ethics and aesthetics instead of brands. Mason jars, beards, local, organic—all ways of conspicuously consuming without coming across as just another “mindless consumer.”

King-Slutzky argues that the truly cutting-edge spurn that endless cycle of novelty for normcore food—the stuff that is neither artisanal nor kitschy, but that resists either of those trendy classifications by simply being blank. It’s staying one step ahead of the trendiness game through inconspicuous consumption. But for the rest of the purity-seeking middle class, what could better perform cultural capital than artisanal ghee? Despite the fact that ghee is used by millions of people in North America, it’s “ethnic” enough to seem different, yet, at least in its newsworthy form, also local and organic. It stands at the centre of a web of alluring ideas: reclaiming a lost past while making the consumer eminently modern and cosmopolitan—a person of the contemporary world who has found the knowledge of history.

The ethnic—the collective traditions and practices of the world’s majority—thus works as an undiscovered country, full of resources to be mined. Rather than sugar or coffee or oil, however, the ore of the ethnic is raw material for performance and self-definition: refine this rough, crude tradition, bottle it in pretty jars, and display both it and yourself as ideals of contemporary cosmopolitanism. But each act of cultural appropriation, in which some facet of a non-Western culture is columbused, accepted into the mainstream, and commodified, reasserts the white and Western as norm—the end of a timeline toward which the whole world is moving.

That pattern of dismissive, oblivious misunderstanding can turn into a low roar—a kind of tinnitus for what it means to be an ethnic minority in a Western cosmopolis. Yet, at the same time, it’s also true that such acceptance of what is private to me into the general public can also be strangely reassuring. Westerners might have gotten the name wrong, but that I and someone who isn’t Indian can bond over some—ahem—elaichi chai as if it were a normal part of both of our lives somehow ends up being sort of nice.

Where, then, is the line that divides the simple pleasure of cultural fusion from cultural appropriation? One answer is that it becomes appropriation when one group’s sense of “normal” inexplicably and unfairly dominates over another. Consider: over the past twenty or thirty years, yoga, once a fringe hippie practice in the West, has become an ordinary part of middle-class Western life. In nearly every city in the world, you can hear yogis intone the word namaste with a profound seriousness. Repeated in yoga studios the world over, the etymology of the word combines the ideas of bowing in the face of the other, and recognizing the divine in the spiritual creature across from you. It’s a nice thought."



"Words can change in meaning. But sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between those parts of culture that have changed gradually over time, and those which have been violently yanked away, taken over, and put to a maddening, centuries-long end."
2015  navneetalang  capitalism  latecapitalism  appropriation  culture  language  food  columbusing  johannahking-slutzky  authenticity  normcore  consumerism  artisanal 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Channel — Walker Art Center
"K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way.

In the process, the group frequently coins new terms to articulate their ideas, such as “Youth Mode”: a term used to describe the prevalent attitude of youth culture that has been emancipated from any particular generation; the “Brand Anxiety Matrix”: a tool designed to help readers understand their conflicted relationships with the numerous brands that clutter their mental space on a daily basis; and “Normcore”: a term originally used to describe the desire not to differentiate oneself, which has since been mispopularized (by New York magazine) to describe the more specific act of dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. (In 2014, “Normcore” was named a runner-up by Oxford University Press for “Neologism of the Year.”)

Since publishing K-HOLE, the collective has taken on a number of unique projects that reflect the manifold nature of their practice, from a consulting gig with a private equity firm to a collaboration with a fashion label resulting in their own line of deodorant. K-HOLE has been covered by a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, Wired UK, and Mousse.

Part of Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMPN5f5cQ ]
k-hole  consumption  online  internet  communication  burnout  normcore  legibility  illegibility  simplicity  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  trends  fashion  art  design  branding  brands  socialmedia  groupchat  texting  oversharing  absence  checkingout  aesthetics  lifestyle  airplanemode  privilege  specialness  generations  marketing  trendspotting  coping  messaging  control  socialcapital  gregfong  denayago  personalbranding  visibility  invisibility  identity  punk  prolasticity  patagonia  patience  anxietymatrix  chaos  order  anxiety  normality  abnormality  youth  millennials  individuality  box1824  hansulrichobrist  alternative  indie  culture  opposition  massindie  williamsburg  simoncastets  digitalnatives  capitalism  mainstream  semiotics  subcultures  isolation  2015  walkerartcenter  maxingout  establishment  difference  89plus  basicness  evasion  blandness  actingbasic  empathy  indifference  eccentricity  blankness  tolerance  rebellion  signalling  status  coolness  aspiration  connections  relationships  presentationofself  understanding  territorialism  sociology  ne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Art is an unmade bed: a normcore aesthetics manifesto | Lebenskünstler
"I don’t want art to ask any questions, unless it is “what would you like for dinner?” I want art to be predictable, like a romantic comedy that leaves you crying on the couch even though you knew they would end up together. I’d like it to sit in your lap and purr. Art should be like a mailbox – mostly junk, filled with ads, scams, bills, and the occasional birthday card. I don’t want art to teach me anything, unless it is how to make compost or how to organize my closet. I want art to be happy with what it has, I don’t want it to try to get ahead. Art ought to be gossip magazines in the waiting room. It should be a doily on your grandmother’s dresser. Art ought to be a cup holder in your car or the wrappers in the backseat. Or maybe art could be an armrest or bath mat. Art should be like a GAP ad. It should be paint peeling from a barn. I think art should quit being art, should change its name, go into the witness protection program. Art should be your new neighbor and wave to you from their driveway. I want art to be normal. You never have to know the crimes, the dirty deeds, or its sordid past. Art should be an unmade bed that sometimes gets fresh sheets when you’re having a party."
randallszott  normcore  art  everyday  2014  leisurearts  artleisure 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Fotos de la biografía - Christopher Glazek | Facebook
"I can't be the first to point this out, Fiona Duncan, but doesn't your NYMag piece confuse #Normcore with #ActingBasic, a separate K-Hole concept? Dressing neutral and normy so you don't stand out is #ActingBasic. #Normcore means you pursue every activity like you're a fanatic of the form. It doesn't really make sense to identify Normcore as a fashion trend--the point of normcore is that you could dress like a NASCAR mascot for a big race and then switch to raver-wear for a long druggy night at the club. It's about infinitely flexible, sunny appropriation. As K-hole puts it, “You might not understand the rules of football, but you can still get a thrill from the roar of the crowd at the World Cup. Normcore moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity coolness that opts in to sameness. BUT INSTEAD OF APPROPRIATING AN AESTHETICIZED VERSION OF THE MAINSTREAM [i.e. Acting Basic], IT JUST COPS TO THE SITUATION AT HAND." I'm raising this because Acting Basic, while certainly a recognizable trend, isn't that new or exciting of a concept. Normcore, on the other hand--the real version--is genuinely new and consequential. Normcore describes personalities, not clothes. Its icon is not Preston Chaunsumlit, it's James Franco.

Acting Basic, a temptation to which the best of us sometimes succumb, is snotty and superseded--the bad old days of downtown cool. Normcore is what comes after: fresh, pozzy, net-native, living every day as a tourist, unbothered by the politics of appropriation--and probably a little naive about politics in general. It really is a profound and illuminating concept, but it's sad to think that during its viral moment it's been reinterpreted into something pedestrian and regressive."
normcore  2014  tourism  adaptability  assimilation  appropriation  netnative  authenticity  coolness  sameness  culture  christopherglazek  k-hole  openmindedness 
july 2014 by robertogreco
I Drank a Cup of Hot Coffee That Was Overnighted Across the Country - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"Normcore moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity coolness that opts in to sameness. But instead of appropriating an aestheticized version of the mainstream, it just cops to the situation at hand. To be truly Normcore, you need to understand that there’s no such thing as normal. […]

Normcore seeks the freedom that comes with non-exclusivity. It finds liberation in being nothing special, and realizes that adaptability leads to belonging."

[quote from: http://khole.net/issues/youth-mode/ ]
k-hole  normcore  liberation  freedom  adaptability  flexibility  nomadism  nomads  appropriation  codeswitching  authenticity  mainstream  exclusivity  youth  generations  internet  specialness  openmindedness 
july 2014 by robertogreco

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