The in-group/out-group dynamics of Nerdrum’s positioning of Kitsch as a reflection of situatedness within contemporary art

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Peer-Reviewed Research


In his description of the Kitsch movement Odd Nerdrum distinguishes between Kitsch and art. This article investigates the concept of Kitsch as theorized by Nerdrum as a manifestation of situatedness within contemporary art. Nerdrum's positioning of kitsch as Kitsch, and as the alternative to contemporary art, links with other critics' views of the significance of kitsch within a post-industrial, modernist and postmodernist society. The techniques employed by Nerdrum in his attempts to re-situate Kitsch are held to reflect the concepts in-group/out-group dynamics, as theorized in social identity theory. I argue that Nerdrum attempts to reposition kitsch - from an out-group to contemporary art - to Kitsch - as an in-group. In this the Kitsch movement can be seen as the manifestation of the need for a change of the situatedness of those who create within the framework of what is considered to be kitsch. Nerdrum's definition of Kitsch, however, is shown to be an ironically modernist marginalizing force in itself, again situating certain artistic attempts as the out-group.