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Creative Boom

Art exhibition examines what mass culture tells us about 21st-century society

September 14, 2020

Installation image of 'Mass Ornament' exhibition at South Etna

Lamp by Katie Stout in Mass Ornament, South Etna, 2020

Ceramic by Katie Stout featured in 'Mass Ornament' exhibition at South Etna Montauk

Katie Stout
Untitled, 2020
Ceramic, paint, glaze, and gold luster
13 1/2 x 6 x 6 in
34.3 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm

By Tom May

Long before Andy Warhol started screen printing duplicates of Marilyn Monroe, philosopher Siegfried Kracauer was among the first 20th-century thinkers to seriously contemplate mass culture.

One of the founders of the Frankfurt School of sociopolitical thought, he examined the ways popular activities, such as amusement parks, shopping arcades, dance halls and cinema, contained more profound revelations about the nature of society. Now a new art exhibition in Montauk, New York transposes his ideas to the 21st century.

Curated by Alison M. Gingeras in collaboration with artist Katie Stout, Mass Ornament: Pleasure, Play, and What Lies Beneath, features the work of a diverse group of artists and designers, including Derrick Adams, Thomas Barger, Louis Fratino and Terri Friedman.

The works shown here favour maximalism: seductive surfaces, brilliant colours, exuberant patterns, and baroque forms. Paintings and vessels, sculptures and lamps, drawings and chairs all take 'pleasure and play' as their subject and, in many cases, camouflage more subversive intentions and messages.

The exhibition at South Etna Montauk, 6 South Etna Avenue, is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 11-6pm and by appointment. Social distancing is being observed in accordance with guidelines to ensure the health and safety of both staff and visitors.

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