Design, Taste, Ephemera

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Kitaoji Rosanjin. Square platter with rounded edges. 1954

In preparing to exhibit things we believe represent Costa Rica well enough that we would want travelers to take some such things home with them, MOMA’s The Value of Good Design provides a valuable pause. The image above, from the MOMA show, is an example of good design of a tactile thing. As the video below shows that is what good design means in MOMA’s estimation, namely things that you want to look at as much as you want to touch or use.

Costa Rica, and its visitors, would benefit from an exhibition of things that are useful, inspiring, and/or in good taste.  Our contribution to this effort has focused on coffee, so we are inclined to think about taste in the gustatory sense, as in what flavors and aromas please. This type of pleasure is more ephemeral than something you can look at and touch over and over.

Design2.jpgAnother sense of good taste, which also has value: we do not consider it in good taste to sell things in Costa Rica that are foreign-made replicas of Costa Rican traditional arts and crafts. And that has been very much on our mind. It is a challenge we have signed on to. The MoMA exhibition inspired Nikil Saval to share a few thoughts about How “Good Design” Failed Us and they strike me as relevant to our own current challenge to be tasteful:

In 1958, the American radical sociologist C. Wright Mills was invited to address the International Design Conference, in Aspen. The lecture he gave, “Man in the Middle: The Designer,” criticized a number of its audience members for being willing dupes in the grand illusion that was consumer society. Continue reading

Model Mad, Museum

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“K+L+32+H+4. Mon père et moi (My Father and I)” right, by Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

When the two words model mad first occurred to us, it was simply to thank one of our favorite people for continuing to resist wrongness in new, clever manner, without losing his cool and thereby keeping it effective. Since then we have found a story almost every day that illustrates the fertile ground of protest created in recent times. And today, thanks to the New York Times, we see another one:

MoMA Takes a Stand: Art From Banned Countries Comes Center Stage

By

President Trump’s executive order banning travel and rescinding visas for citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations does not lack for opponents in New York — from Kennedy Airport, where striking taxi drivers joined thousands of demonstrators, to the United Nations, whose new secretary general, António Guterres, said the measures “violate our basic principles.

Now the Museum of Modern Art — which in past decades has cultivated a templelike detachment — is making its voice heard as well. In one of the strongest protests yet by a major cultural institution, the museum has reconfigured its fifth-floor permanent-collection galleries — interrupting its narrative of Western Modernism, from Cézanne through World War II — to showcase contemporary art from Iran, Iraq and Sudan, whose citizens are subject to the ban. A Picasso came down. Matisse, down. Ensor, Boccioni, Picabia, Burri: They made way for artists who, if they are alive and abroad, cannot see their work in the museum’s most august galleries. (A work from a Syrian artist has been added to the film program. The other affected countries are Somalia, Yemen and Libya.) Continue reading

Bollywood Century

As several of us prepare to celebrate a couple years of residence in India, and this site approaches its first birthday, a certain theme song (and equally essential accompanying dance) comes to mind.  Therefore, a big thanks to The New Yorker‘s James Pomerantz for posting this reminder:

While it may seem like just yesterday that the silent film “Shree Pundalik” was released in Mumbai, May 18th marks the hundredth anniversary of what many consider to be the first Indian film made. The past century has seen India grow to become the world’s largest producer of films…

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