16 May until 27 October 2013
Evil Things
An Encyclopaedia of Bad Taste

What is taste? Who decides what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly? Corporations spend billions trying to find out which product will catch the spirit of the times. Scientists devote themselves to researching which regions of the brain are responsible for forming taste. And what do we do? We argue about taste, although, as is well known, there is no accounting for taste. The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is throwing itself into the argument about “good” and “bad” taste by showing the exhibition “Evil Things: an Encylopaedia of Bad Taste” developed by the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin, which juxtaposes historical and contemporary approaches. On top of this, we invite visitors to take an active part in the debate on taste by setting up an exchange where they can swap items. The idea of the exhibition “Evil Things” was based on the pamphlet “Good and Bad Taste in the Arts and Crafts” published by the art historian Gustav E. Pazaurek in 1912. In it, he sets up a complex catalogue of criteria which also underlies his “Department of Lapses in Taste” in the Landesmuseum in Stuttgart. Pazaurek was a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, founded in 1907, which set off the debate on “good form” in design which still shows no sign of abating even today. The exhibition “Evil Things” presents some 60 objects from Pazaurek’s former “Chamber of Horrors” and confronts these with items of contemporary design. This provides an opportunity to review Pazaurek’s systematic canon and decide if it is still valid  today. At the same time it postulates new categories which might be able to classify things as “good” or “bad” from the perspective of today’s world. In parallel to this, the MKG is showing a project by the Muthesius-Kunsthochschule Kiel entitled “Name That Thing”. Students focussed here on kitsch and produced projections, installations, objects, photography and texts on the theme, whereby they also had the Museum as an authority for forming taste squarely in their sights.

Abb.: mit Schmucksteinen verziertes Handy, Entwurf: Moeko Ishida, Deco Loco, 2009; Mobiltelefon-Halter, Agora Gifthouse AB, Schweden, 2009; USB-Stick in Form eines Fingers, China; Werkbundarchiv - Museum der Dinge, Berlin, Foto: Armin Herrmann