Forms of Taste

The value system is thus entirely self-regulating and functional, with a built-in tendency to eliminate turbulence and fluctuation. Crisis, doubt, and experiment are features of the baroque. Certainty is classical.

-Omar Calabrese

This series is inspired by the book Neo-baroque: A Sign of the Times by the Italian semiologist Omar Calabrese, who, in 1987, characterized contemporary cultural phenomena as Neo-baroque. According to Calabrese, the traits of our Neo-baroque era are instability, change, polydimensionality, and the reoccurring processes of metamorphosis and dissolution. He finds that in a period in which everything has been already said, the only way to avoid saturation is by “turning to a poetics of repetition.” 

The photographs of Forms of taste draw a contrast—both morphologically and materially—between the classical and baroque as two opposed tendencies that account for the society and times that seize them and reinterpret them. Ornamental vintage found objects made of bronze, such as a lion’s head- and footed vase stand, a floral motif dresser jar, and a cherub-topped vanity box, make a counterbalance to the whimsical forms sculpted by the soft epoxy resin, which melts, collapses, and overflows the boundaries of the metal pieces.  

I choose photography as a medium instead of displaying the sculptural objects in order to emphasize the perception of a particular moment captured in time, suggesting an ongoing process of metamorphosis.  

If we imagine certainty as the enemy of change, fluidity becomes a sign of our times, a signal of openness to replacing old binary structures with more inclusive representations and perspectives. Crisis, doubt, and experiment are essential features underpinning new ways of being. The baroque, as theorized by Calabrese, appears in my twisted forms and their resistance to represent fixed categories of interpretation. The neo-baroque’s permeability, its openness to vernacular elements makes it a significant form—from the entrails of Europe’s cultural machinery of seduction—for re-imagining integration over diversity. 

– Paula Córdoba


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