'"TAR is a tremendous flight of fantasy for those who need to plan a way to escape from this planet or to save it."


2014 June STORY


The Post-Beauty Testament

 Sara Cwynar's Kitsch Encyclopedia

A survey of Universal Knowledge


According to the online version of

the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,

<< once you skip this add >>


can most broadly be defined as

things (such as movies or works of art) that are of low quality and that many people find amusing and enjoyable.


In the comments section of the definition

( a thesis topic in it’s own right )

one James Holm left a note on April 23rd,

presumably meant to add complexity to the

standard definition: “Milan Kundera’s

The Unbearable Lightness of Being  - Pg 248.”

Sara Cwynar similarly seeks to elaborate on the definition of kitsch through quotations of great works of literature and philosophy in her new book published by Blonde Art Books, and largely Kickstarter funded, “Kitsch Encyclopedia.” In this artists’ statement cum artists’ book an attempt is made to catalogue selected quotations from Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” Roland Barthes’ “Mythologies,” and Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulations,” freckled with reflections and connecting statements by Cwynar herself. Catalogued and grouped under alphabetized headings, the text reads as an experimental writing exercise in the poetics of indices. Cemetery, with quotation, is followed by Ceremony, and Journalist is followed by Justification, which is followed by the ground zero of all other entries, our main event, Kitsch.



The ultimately abstract long-form quotations are supplemented, but more often than not overshadowed, by striking images sourced from magazines and books, as well as some photos taken by Cwynar, illustrating more clearly than any text could what exactly kitsch is, and the often sinister undercurrents of meaning teaming under their pixelated, risograph-esque, newsprint replicated, pop. The book physically mimics some elements of kitsch beauty: substantial and hardback, cloth covered but un-jacketed, with image and text inlaid, framed by the blue cloth, on verso and recto.  The pages are pink with blue text, the images in black-and-white and subdued super saturated color. Images range from a thumbnail image of a stereo-scoped waterfall, to a full page, full bleed color reproduction of Walt Disney looking at an absurdly large library of back issues of the National Geographic Magazine. What images like this one communicate in terms of comfort and appeal, overshadow the dark readings beneath the image such as Disney’s Nazi sympathies or the imperialist colonial adventure journalism of early Geographic missions. ”


The beautiful and sweetly satisfying images in “Encyclopedia of Kitsch,” delight and comfort even when representing explosions, skulls, and destruction. The very pages that quote Kundera (“Kitsch is a folding screen set up to a curtain of death,”) are arranged to look nice, slightly garish, somehow concealing the text. Pepto-Bismol pink and Smurffette/yves-klein blue, interspersions of birds of paradise type striking images of the familiar, unfamiliar odd juxtapositions made harmless by affect; all of these look palatable, and many are actually such; appealing and gentle as nicely set dinner tables.

In the lust after these images the text becomes the important fine print, which may be partially or fully skimmed over in order to get to the next page, ultimately to be read out of order, not necessarily as needed. But are we doomed to forever share the deeper readings of these images amongst like-minded educated artists and people? Will we ever successfully find the language, written or visual, through which we can, or are willing to, communicate to all races and classes the nature of our most popular images, and address even the differences between our popular images? A great many of our perceptions of our own reality are being distorted and manipulated by our most beloved images. Why aren’t we angry, or terribly afraid? Where is our “Manifesto of Kitsch”?


This web page is based on the FUTURITY concept as published in TAR BOOK Spring/Summer edition 2014.

Please file under #TAR #FUTURITY


TAR FUTURITY BOOK featuring: Nigel Coates,  José Funes, Alexandra Midal, Michela Moro, Marco Meneguzzo,  David Orban, Marguerite Humeau, Trevor Paglen, Lara Gregori,  João Ribas,  Antonio Riello, Mimma Viglezio, Michael Hoppen, Silvia Macchetto, Carolina Toscano.


TAR BOOK  is available in Best Book-Shops  around the world.

TAR is the sticky stuff we pave our roads and build our roofs with.

It affords us travel and shelters us from the storm. It is also an anagram of the word art.

The editorial staff have taken every care to obtain from copyright holders the authorization to publish the pictures in this issue. In any cases where this has not been possible, the editorial staff would like to make it known that they are available to eligible parties to settle any amounts that are owed.

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TAR magazine digital edition  wishes to thanks


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