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REFLECTING ON A DÉCOR WORD WE MUST HUMBLY REQUEST BE BANNED
... which we somehow link to the toxic side of "CURATED" and APPLE PRODUCT frictionlessness
WE’D LIKE TO PREFACE THIS BY SAYING THAT NEXT WEEK WE’RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING QUITE FUN AND LIGHTHEARTED. And, that this issue, nonetheless, is optimistic.
A look in the mirror today, asking us all to ponder HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT DÉCOR, because people have not been reading their Edward Said, etc.
In particular, the toxic and surprisingly VERY PRESENT, EN-VOGUE-FOR-YEARS use of the word “PRIMITIVE”. NOT TO POLICE but – we shall sound the alarm. There are simply BETTER WAYS to say what these Décorfolk aim to say.
We shall present alternatives and also relish in the actualness of what it is, for what people refer to as pr*m*t*ve is very compelling, just the word is blarch.
A NOTE ON WORDERY
There are, may we posit, nearly infinity English language words. Beyond the current 170,000+ currently in use, there are also many tens of thousands of ‘obsolete’ ones (such a cruel distinction!), ripe for resurrection, and - here’s a think-starter! – many MADE-UP WORDS that await. (We’ve used several already.)
Fabricated, i.e. made-up, vocabularies are CRUCIAL, in fact, as they serve to disrupt the hegemony of established décor TASTES. Language is power, and making up your own is TAKING POWER. To refuse to participate in establishment categories, framing, décor jargon, you gain: CONTROL, INDIVIDUALITY, PLEASURE, SEXUAL ENERGY.
The infinity-ness of language therefore provides the grounds, also, for suggesting that some words be AVOIDED.
“CREATIVE” /krēˈādiv/ relating to or involving the imagination or original idea.
MAKE UP A F*CKING WORD IF ONE IS DRENCHED IN COLONIAL BAGGAGE (as an example). Twenty-first century made-up wordery in short: DEFRIEND, UNLIKE; RETWEET; SELFIES; PODCAST; PAYWALL; FATBERG; HASHTAG. i.e. they needn’t be wacky.
BRIEF PORTFOLIO OF EVIDENCE ON “PR*M*T*VE) (2016-PRESENT MOMENT)
We shan’t name names, giving the benefit of the doubt in terms of intent. (We’re quite confident most involved in the wordery below are GOOD NATURED). YET, it is important to illuminate the cultural arena with FACT.
“PRIMITIVE” is used as shorthand for this kind of one-of-kind-esque, simple-natural-unpolished, hand-made vibe. The TOTAL EMBRACE OF IMPERFECT is (in this case) admirable. (THEORY OF WHY THIS WORD IS POPULAR IS INCOMING.)
We need a word that reacts to the highly-polished, and then we’ll need a world that reacts to the loose and rough – it will be, ideally, a never-ending loop.
EXHIBIT A: PRICING
… that aforementioned admiration is TREND and is currently being reflected in EXTREME PRICERY.
A: “Primitive” in use; B: “Primitive” with en vogue pricing; C: “Primitive” in practice.
The above is, essentially, a milking stool – very often in the sub-$100 range (THIS is arguably more compelling, and $110). And, despite our SOMETIMES-DEEP REVERENCE for the cultural capital of certain makers-of-things (i.e. higher cost justified because of who made it), there seems to be an OUTSIZED CAPITALIZATION on “crude” currently. (ASIDE: “CRUDE” we praise except in the case of CRUDE OIL.)
EXHIBIT 2: NAMING OF THINGS
It is –– sometimes in a desperate attempt to be controversial (example 1) and others in a kind of weird not-sure-how-this-passed-a-PR-check attempt to be clever wordplay (example B) –– a very “cute” thing people add to the names of des*gn collections and exhibitions. Throughout time, really, but here are instances from the start of the current era of “PRIMITIVE” use and one from three months ago:
EXHIB 2, EXAMPLE 1
EXHIB 2, EXAMPLE B
EXHIB 2, EXHIBIT iii: PARLANCE
It is certainly, also part of PARLANCE – not simply formal nomenclature or web copy. Here is an example from last year, in an interview in some magazine, where Anonymous Popular Gallerist explains their passion for “primitive” – the first part of which we wholly endorse:
And this year, an architect designing a retail space:
SUBMITTING A FORMAL COMPLAINT:
We shan’t dwell TOO heavily on WHY “primitive” is quite an ick word but in short, it has a lot to do with its relationship to its antonym ‘civilized’. Some complains include:
HIERARCHICAL ENERGY: "primitive" kinda implies some societies and things are more “advanced” and others less so; history-wise, the word "primitive" has often been used in a Eur*centric context, with European cultures being positioned as more ‘civilized’ (by extension also an ick word)
INACCURATE ergo LAZY: describing a thing as "primitive" TRULY OVERSIMPLIFIES (1) complexities of historical development; (2) the high skill and aesthetic sense required (THE sixth sense)
DEHUMANIZING: implies a lack of progress and by extension intellect; like, it’s as if “this is all they could do – neat, right?” Kind of removes a sense of INTENTION, as if this is the DESIRED outcome. And, in all EVIDENCE above, intention IS in fact very present, hence making the word pr*m*t*ive very unsatisfying
And we hate to bring this up but: it’s VERY COLONIAL. Mega, MEGA ick.
A THEORY ON WHY IT’S SUCH A VIBEY WORD RIGHT NOW:
There are MANY reasons/excuses for why “PRIMITIVE” has entered the décorsphere as a chic descriptor by the Gallerist Class. Here are two very prominent ones:
1 → The fashionable status of ‘curator’: Curator is the “deejay” of 20 years ago, whereby every considers themselves to be one. Those who actually make a career out of it (many are EXTREMELY ADMIRABLE to be clear) must assume a hierarchy of taste exists and/or they have a special point of view (many do!).
Some, sadly, also get high on the idea of DISCOVERY; that it is their special position to import some thing very good from the dusty corners of some unknowing craftsperson’s workshop to rich people. DISCOVERY in this case can become adjacent to RESOURCE EXTRACTION, and hopefully and in all likelihood UNINTENTIONALLY is quite colonial and kind of jives with the idea that one’s special tastes and elevate the ‘primitive’.
*Again, this is not really how most curators operate or think, reminding us of the shittiness of the use of the word. MUCH BAGGAGE WITH THAT WORD!
2 → Being absolutely f*cking exhausted by the APPLE™-product FRICTIONLESS WORLD of machine-honed fragility: In short, technological fatigue, and also how f*cking flimsy it has all become. Understandably, many of us are GRASPING FOR OUR F*CKING LIVES for something that feels human and super sturdy.
ALTERNATIVE WORDS AND VISUALS:
Here are a bunch of NOT MADE UP words off the top of our heads that are very fine descriptors: COARSE, UNEMBELLISHED, ROUGH, ELEMENTAL, UNFUSSY, MODEST, NO-FRILLS, BUCOLIC, UNPAMPERED, LOW-TECH, NO-NONSENSE.
We shall presently show a couple of things we love and DESCRIBE THEM WITHOUT THE WORD “PR*M*T*VE” to show how much better that is. And, for this, we’ll hang out in 1988 PARIS randomly / because that is a book that’s in front of us.
The CARPENTRY-FORWARD BED of CLAUDE BEN SIGNOR
A fast-made timbery bed of plain-simple boards that juxtaposes “space of rest and stasis” with a sense of hurried urgency.
TECHNO-ANTIDOTE BENCH to the offset intrusive television of EMMANUEL PEREIRE:
No better frame for a smooth glass screen intended for CONSTANT CHANGE (i.e. ‘moving image’ and ‘programming’) that rots the brain than a rough-surfaced slab of wood that will, someday in some way, literally rot.
We wish most to just break away from all INSUFFICIENT and BAGGAGE-Y WORDERY i.e. that is lazy-boring and also leans into sh*tty histories.
And, anyway, next week we’re making a case for TIN FOIL as a very current aesthetic.
Love and good luck,
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