Schmuck #5: (ig)noble

Last but not least, I would like to talk about the Schmuck-satellite-exhibition ‘(ig)noble’, showing work of Swedish artists Karin Roy Andersson, Lisa Björke, Pernilla Persson, Hanna Liljenberg and Sanna Svedestedt at the Schwedische Kirche.

I will say it in advance, this was a difficult and challenging exhibition for me to see. Difficult and challenging in a good way, since it raised a lot of questions in my head that I am still thinking about.

But to the show… The artists said that the idea of the exhibition came to life after reminiscing about last year’s Schmuck-madness. The girls found that it seems like the contemporary jewellery market is getting more and more saturated. More people seem to be adjusted to the idea of artists using non-precious materials in jewellery, the price-range seems to be around 300€ plus, the quality of the work seems to stay around a similar level but there does not seem to be real buying force.

Therefore, the girls came up with the idea to make four different kinds of pieces, ranging from 35€ for several small-edition pieces over to six small-edition pieces with slight variations for 200€, two one-of a kind pieces for 600€ and one exclusive piece for 2000€. This was meant to help explore the visitors’ interests and buying bahaviours.

The exhibition was set-up in form of four wide tables that showed the 35€ work of all artists in the front row, the 200€ work in the next row, the 600€ pieces came right after, followed by the 2000€ work in the last row. The prices of the pieces were determined by the time the artists needed to make them. This was mainly visible in the pieces in form of the size. Although each artist used the same materials in all pieces, the 35€ work resembled small tokens that people could take with them to remember the show, whereas the 2000€ pieces were big elaborate statement pieces.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 4.47.55 PMKarin Roy Andersson

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.47.12 PMLisa Björke

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.49.54 PMPernilla Persson

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.52.39 PMHanna Liljenberg

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.56.16 PMSanna Svedestedt

The reason why I wanted to see the show was because of the duality that came with it. It seemed like the Schmuck world was parted in half. Prior to seeing the exhibition, I talked to a few people about it and some were absolutely intrigued to go and see it because of its bold statement that put the selling-point of jewelley in the spotlight. Others seemed appalled because of just this. It seems like we are still living in a world where artists are not supposed to talk about money. Pretty sad to me, since we all know money unfortunately does not grow on trees, especially not when you’re an artist.

As you can hear, I applaud the boldness of the exhibition and I am still very intrigued to know about the results that the girls gained from it.

During the time I visited the exhibition and quite some time after I had left, I had several thoughts and questions in mind. So far, I have been a frequent Schmuck visitor. Almost every year, since I started to study jewellery design, I went to Munich to see the event. Now, almost 10 years and several satellite-exhibitions later, it seems like my perception of the event has changed. I guess the show has always been the same way but this year, it occurred to me that, I assume, there might have been 60% students, 25% makers, 10% galleries and 5% potential buyers. Now, come to think of money, we all know that students don’t have it and most artists don’t have it either. Galleries mainly come to find, represent and sell new work, which leaves only a very small number of people that is interested in actually buying the work.

Back to the show… when being there, a student who joined us to see the exhibition decided to buy one of the 35€ pieces. When asked why he went for that one, he said that he would have loved to buy a bigger one but that he could not afford it. Hence, he bought the smallest and cheapest version of it, so that it would remind him of the bigger piece he actually really liked. I found this very interesting. Does this mean, in reality, in order to make a living, one will have to make just this? Make cheaper jewellery that reminds one of something one can’t afford? But then who is one making the big expensive pieces for? For the hope a potential buyer will come along and buy it one day anyway or to keep the dream alive for people who can’t afford them? Don’t get me wrong, there are millions of other reasons as to why one should make the big pieces but trying to see it from a mainly selling point of view, I am not sure if I want to hear the answer.

But back to the roots of the problem. If there is only a small number of people that is capable of buying the more expensive jewellery, how does one reach them? Is a show like Schmuck the right platform to try and approach this kind of people or is it really meant to be more of a showing event that presents the newest trends? But if this is the case, where does one show and sell the pieces? Of course there are contemporary jewellery galleries, which can be very successful in selling the work. But other than galleries, is there nothing else artists can actively do? How can artists reach the buying force? Also, how can artists attract the millions of people that still don’t know about contemporary jewellery? As we all know, the contemporary jewellery world is still very small…

This is a really difficult matter and honestly, I don’t know the answers to it.

I would really like to hear what the Swedish artists found out. I guess the 35€ pieces might have been the best sellers, which is great of course but a little sad at the same time.

As to the show, I think it was a very bold and brave attempt to raise awareness as to how to make a living in this field. It surely is not easy. I hope there will be more exhibitions of this kind to come in the future. Artists get together!

What do you think about this matter? What can be done? I would love to hear your opinions.

Thank you for reading.

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‘Die Zikade’ (‘Cicada’)

Today, I finished the first of three pieces I will show at ‘Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch‘ in Munich in March. Please come by and see the work and the artists, if you are in town. We will all be very happy to welcome you!

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.36.22 PM

The piece is called ‘Die Zikade’ (‘Cicada’). ‘Die Zikade’ can be worn as a brooch or it can be attached to a chain to be worn as a neckpiece. I like to give more options to the wearer when standing in front of the mirror and deciding how to put it on.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.20.42 PM

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.20.53 PM‘Die Zikade’, Brooch/Neckpiece, 2013; Stainless Steel, Silver, Enamel, Cubic Zirconia, Porcelain.

After having read Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Storytheller’ the other day, I had many more ideas and I started to experiment with a few more shapes and looks. It is still very early to talk about the future pieces in detail but I have a vision in mind. One that incorporates a lot of enamel, patina and all kinds of surface structures. …of course in contrast with stainless steel.

Here are the beginnings.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.05.05 PMI am still intrigued with ‘roots’. Right now, I am playing with shapes and connections. It is not as visible yet but there is a lot more in my head.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.05.28 PMInspiration: I found this piece in the scrap metal box of the School of Jewellery during my student days. I don’t know who made it or why it got thrown out but I found it very intriguing and I took it with me. It has stayed with me for more than five years now. During that time, it has changed quite a lot. Initially, it only had a little bit of patina on it. Now, the patina is much more defined. I love to see how nature takes possession of the piece.

More to come soon. Let me know your thoughts! Thank you.

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Inspiration – Walter Benjamin: ‘The storyteller’

I read Walter Benjamin‘s essay ‘Der Erzähler’ quite a while back. A couple of days ago, I stumbled over it again. Walter sums my thoughts up beautifully and he gives them a sense of direction. (Scroll down for the English version.)

Auszüge aus Walter Benjamin’s ‘Der Erzähler’

‘“Wenn einer eine Reise tut, so kann er viel erzählen”, sagt der Volksmund und denkt sich den Erzähler als einen der von weither kommt. Aber nicht weniger gern hört man dem zu, der, redlich sich nährend, im Lande geblieben ist und dessen Geschichten und Überlieferungen kennt. … Die reale Erstreckung des Reiches der Erzählungen in seiner ganzen historischen Breite ist nicht ohne die innigste Durchdringung dieser beiden archaischen Typen denkbar. … Der sesshafte Meister und die wandernden Burschen werkten in den gleichen Stuben zusammen; und jeder Meister war Wanderbursche gewesen, bevor er in seiner Heimat oder in der Fremde sich niederliess. … In ihm verband sich die Kunde von der Ferne, wie der Vielgewanderte sie nach Hause bringt, mit der Kunde aus der Vergangenheit, wie sie am liebsten dem Sesshaften sich anvertraut.

(Die Erzählung) führt offen oder versteckt ihren Nutzen mit sich. Dieser Nutzen mag einmal in einer Moral bestehen, ein andermal in einer praktischen Anweisung, ein drittes in einem Sprichwort oder in einer Lebensregel. … Rat in den Stoff gelebten Lebens eingewebt ist Weisheit.

Auf der anderen Seite erkennen wir, wie mit der durchgebildeten Herrschaft des Bürgertums, zu deren wichtigsten Instrumenten im Hochkapitalismus die Presse gehört, eine Form der Mitteilung auf den Plan tritt, die, soweit ihr Ursprung auch zurückliegen mag, die epische Form nie vordem auf bestimmende Weise beeinflusst hat. Nun aber tut sie das. … Diese neue Form der Mitteilung ist die Information. … Jeder Morgen unterrichtet uns über Neuigkeiten des Erdkreises. Und doch sind wir an merkwürdigen Geschichten arm. Das kommt, weil uns keine Begebenheit mehr erreicht, die nicht mit Erklärungen schon durschsetzt wäre. Mit anderen Worten: beinah nichts mehr, was geschieht, kommt der Erzählung, beihnah alles der Information zugute. Es ist nämlich schon die halbe Kunst des Erzählens, eine Geschichte, indem man sie wiedergibt, von Erklärungen freizuhalten. … Das Ausserordentliche, das Wunderbare wird mit der grössten Genauigkeit erzählt, der psychologische Zusammenhang des Geschehens aber wird dem Leser nicht aufgedrängt. Es ist ihm freigestellt sich die Sache zurechtzulegen, wie er sie versteht, und damit erreicht das Erzählte eine Schwingungsbreite, die der Information fehlt. … Die Information hat ihren Lohn mit dem Augenblick dahin, indem sie neu war. Sie lebt nur in diesem Augenblick, sie muss sich gänzlich an ihn ausliefern und ohne Zeit zu verlieren sich ihm erklären.   Anders die Erzählung; sie verausgabt sich nicht. Sie bewahrt ihre Kraft gesammelt und ist noch nach langer Zeit der Entfaltung fähig.  …

Geschichten erzählen ist ja immer die Kunst, sie weiter zu erzählen, und die verliert sich, wenn die Geschichten nicht mehr behalten werden. Sie verliert sich, weil nicht mehr gewebt und gesponnen wird, während man ihnen lauscht.

“Der heutige Mensch arbeitet nicht mehr an dem, was sich nicht abkürzen lässt.” (Paul Valéry)  … Wir haben die short story erlebt, die sich der mündlichen Tradition entzogen hat und jenes langsame Einander-Überdecken dünner transparenter Schichten nicht mehr erlaubt, das das treffendste Bild von der Art und Weise abgibt, in der die vollkommene Erzählung aus der Schichtung vielfacher Nacherzählungen an den Tag tritt.

Extracts from Walter Benjamin’s ‘The storyteller’ 

“When someone goes on a trip, he has something to tell about,” goes the German saying, and people imagine the storyteller as someone who has come from afar. But they enjoy no less listening to the man who has stayed at home, making an honest living, and who knows the local tales and traditions. … The actual extension of the realm of storytelling in its full historical breadth is inconceivable without the most intimate interpenetration of these two archaic types. …The resident master craftsman and the traveling journeymen worked together in the same rooms; and every master had been a traveling journeyman before he settled down in his home town or somewhere else. … In it was combined the lore of faraway places, such as a much-traveled man brings home, with the lore of the past, as it best reveals itself to natives of a place.

(The story) contains, openly or covertly, something useful. The usefulness may, in one case, consist in a moral; in another, in some practical advice; in a third, in a proverb or maxim. … Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.

On the other hand, we recognize that with the full control of the middle class, which has the press as one of its most important instruments in fully developed capitalism, there emerges a form of communication which, no matter how far back its origin may lie, never before influenced the epic form in a decisive way. But now it does exert such an influence. … This new form of communication is information. … Every morning brings us the news of the globe, and yet we are poor in noteworthy stories. This is because no event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information. Actually, it is half the art of storytelling to keep a story free from explanation as one reproduces it. … The most extraordinary things, marvelous things, are related with the greatest accuracy, but the psychological connection of the events is not forced on the reader. It is left up to him to interpret things the way he understands them, and thus the narrative achieves an amplitude that information lacks. … The value of information does not survive the moment in which it was new. It lives only at that moment; it has to surrender to it completely and explain itself to it without losing any time. A story is different. It does not expend itself. It preserves 􏰃 and concentrates its strength and is capable of releasing it even after a long time.

For storytelling is always the art of repeating stories, and this art is lost when the stories are no longer retained. It is lost because there is no more weaving and spinning to go on while they are being listened to.

“Modern man no longer works at what cannot be abbreviated.” (Paul Valéry) … We have witnessed the evolution of the “short story,” which has removed itself from oral tradition and no longer permits that slow piling one on top of the other of thin, transparent layers which constitutes the most appropriate picture of the way in which the perfect narrative is revealed through the layers of a variety of retellings.

Click here to read the full essay in German.
Click here to read the full essay in English.

Thank you for reading.

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‘Exupéa’

Earlier this year, I was asked if I was interested in taking part in the ‘FlourishRing‘ Exhibition at Kath Libbert Gallery in Saltsmill, UK. In 2010, I took part in their exhibition ‘IntoFlora‘ and I was very happy to hear that the gallery wanted to feature my work again.

The theme of the exhibition was inspired by the gallery’s 16th anniversary and asked for a ring with exuberant qualities. 100 jewellery makers around the world were asked to take part.

I am more of a brooch-girl, which means I have a preference of making brooches, rather than other forms of jewellery. I have, of course, made a few rings in the past but since it has been quite a while back, I decided to make a new ring for the exhibition.

Working on the ring turned out to be a lot of fun. It was very refreshing to walk new paths and experiment with ring shapes, rather than brooch fittings.

Based on the exuberant topic, I decided to work with a peacock theme. I wanted the ring to show off in every way but doing so with grace and style. I started fiddling around with Chinese fabric knots and peacock feathers but came to the conclusion that the feather is exuberant enough and I found it more intriguing to work with the peacock’s striking colours instead. I have been thinking about reintroducing enamel into my work for quite a while and this seemed the perfect topic for experimenting. I ended up working with different layers of enamel, trying to construct translucent glazes and give it a relief looking surface structure. The ring was completed with a big lavender coloured cubic zirconia stone in the middle, holding a rainbow colour changing LED.

‘Exupéa’, Ring, 2012, stainless steel, enamel, cubic zirconia, LED, battery box, light switch, cable.
Photography: Savinder Bual

The ‘FlourishRing‘ exhibition opened July 12 and will be on show until September 30. Next to ‘FlourishRing‘, there is another exhibtion, ‘Flourish‘, on show, featuring the work of ten international jewellery makers. During the exhibition period, the audience is encouraged to pick their favourite ring and have a picture taken with it. The ring that will have the most ‘likes’ in the end will win a £250 cash price. I will keep fingers crossed for all featured artists! You can have a preview on the rings on the gallery’s website to get a first impression.

If you happen to be in the UK, please go and check it out! The pictures of the exhibition opening looked really intriguing. Please don’t forget to send me a pic once you are there. I would really appreciate it!

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
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‘Yin+-Yin’ – Suzy Solidor

Last year, when I was on vacation in Yang Shuo, China with my partner Barry, I was asked if I was interested in taking part in the ‘Mirror Mirror‘ exhibition in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. I was thrilled to read about the exhibition outlines, which turned around the life of Suzy Solidor, a French, homosexual nightclub-owner and singer, who got famous in Paris in the 1930’s. It was a great holiday surprise!

I had six months time to come up with a concept and making the piece. I was very thankful about the freedom in taking time, since it allowed me to conduct a lot of research and to play with multiple ideas, although I have to admit that I reach my true potential, when I am working under time-pressure. I am a true last-minute worker!

Researching Suzy was very exciting and sometimes full of surprises. I cought myself thinking that this woman really lived her life in full and that she did not leave any opportunity unanswered or open. I could feel a little jealousy creeping up from now and then, questioning the corners in which I could push myself further and explore. But then, I always consider the price and consequences my environment and I would have to pay and my desires readjust. I got the impression that consideration and respect was not necessarily always Suzy’s strength. In my opinion, she was a split character, living the highs but at the same time fighting with her own devils.

Here is my artist statement about ‘Yin+-Yin’:

Suzy & Suzy (‘Yin+-Yin’)

 

Suzy Solidor created a lot of myths, some during her lifetime, some after her passing.

 

‘Yin+-Yin’ is about the Suzy Solidor of my imagination.

A woman who seemed to know exactly what she wanted.

A sparkling and sexy super- woman on one side, self-centered, self-serving and spot-light addicted on the other.

 

The word ‘Yin+-Yin’ derives from the Chinese Yin and Yang, female and male. To every part belongs a counterpart. In Suzy’s case, being a celebrated lesbian, her counterpart must therefore also be female.

This results in two Yins: One positive Yin and one negative Yin.

 

‘Yin+-Yin’ is made from several elements. Suzy’s portrait, Suzy’s legendary heart brooch (pierced from two sides), the double-sexed zucchini flower, the crab and the uterus as the bearing spine of the piece, carrying a light in each ovary. The lights can be switched on, one at a time, putting the focus on either the Yin+ or -Yin side of Suzy. Each element stands for one of Suzy’s characteristics, where seeing them as a whole creates the completed image of Suzy.

 

‘Yin+-Yin’ is, just like its person of inspiration, a very versatile piece. It is meant to be worn on the belly, the center of femininity, but it can also be worn as a brooch or neckpiece.

Here is the piece, worn as a belt. I wanted to find a display for the piece that underlines femininity in every aspect and I decided to have it worn on the belly, around the area of the uterus.

This is the jewel worn as a neckpiece. The chain can be taken off entirely and the piece can also be worn as a brooch.

The ‘Mirror Mirror‘ Exhibition will be on display until September 23rd at Espace Solidor in Cagnes-sur-Mer and will then travel to Velvet Da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco in October.

Here is the list of the participating artists and some pictures of the show at Espace Solidor.
Unfortunately, in most cases, I don’t know which artist made which piece. So, if you happen to know who made which object, please let me know and I will tag it!

Emmanuel Lacoste – ‘La Vie Parisienne’

Maisie Broadhead – ‘Ssssssssuzy’

I hope you like ‘Yin+-Yin’ and that you can make it to the exhibition in either France or the USA. If you do, please write me a line and send me a pic! I would very much appreciate it!
See you there!

PS: Yang Shuo in the rain.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
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Märta Mattsson’s ‘Petrified Lives’ at Sienna Gallery

Märta Mattsson‘s solo exhibition ‘Petrified Lives’ is currently on show at Sienna Gallery in Lenox, MA. The show opened on June 29th and will run until July 22nd.

Last Saturday, the gallery invited the public to join the artist’s reception. Since Utica is only two and a half hours away by car, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the show and meet Märta.

We, my partner Barry and my jeweller friend Patrick McMillan, arrived early in Lenox and after a very lazy afternoon spent at ‘Haven Café‘, we strolled over to the gallery. Sienna Gallery is a space made from two connecting rooms. The room on the left shows permanent work and pieces of selected artists. The room on the right is used as the space dedicated to the newest show on display.

Based on the bug and beetle influenced topic of Märta’s creations, the artist chose to present the pieces in a forest-like display. The room was filled with several branches and trees holding Märta’s creations, showing a variety of pieces ranging from 2010 until now.

For me, it was interesting to see Märta’s development over the years through the changing use of materials, but still turning around a similar interest. I got the chance to meet and talk to Märta, an opportunity that filled me with joy, since I have to admit that I am quite a fan of her work. She is a very lovely person and we had a rather long conversation about the nature of her work, inspirations and making of her pieces. We found that we are both ‘Hate-Bug-Lovers’, people who are deeply inspired and intrigued by bugs but intimidated and disgusted at the same time. Working with bugs can be a constant battle of admiration and disgust, regularly pushing boundaries and expectations.

Another very interesting aspect that comes with Märta’s pieces is people’s reaction and the perception of the objects, when realising that there are still ‘real’ bugs ‘living’ in the jewellery. Märta had just finished explaining to us that peoples’ reactions can be very strong and diverse, when another visitor of the gallery approached her and enquired about a specific piece, a spider being cut in half. When the woman learned that the ‘skin’ of the spider was still in the piece, she shrieked and did not dare to touch it anymore!

The whole scene was somewhat funny to look at but also showed that Märta’s jewellery is not just pretty, daily ready-to-wear-bling but jewellery that truly pushes limits. Personal limits for sure, since the wearer is constantly aware of the fact that they are adorning themselves with a real insect, as well as ecological limits. I would like to think that once people get over this EEEWWW-A-BUG-mentality and encounter the beauty of those insects, they would want to help and preserve those species as well. This also makes me think of Christopher Marley‘s work. I certainly hope there will be more artists embracing this kind of topic and trying to make a difference for both, people and nature.

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Tug of War & DAFF Beginnings

My friend Savinder Bual and I just came back from a rather refreshing lunch break. This feeling of being touched by a breath of fresh air does not only come from the beautiful sunshine kissing Shanghai today but also from its people. Walking the streets of the city showed that the winter melancholia has been put aside and was replaced by a big welcoming party for the summer. 🙂

The highlight of our little tour was a big group of people playing ‘tug-of-war’ next to Shanghai’s smallest Starbucks coffee shop (maybe even the world’s smallest Starbucks coffee shop?) down Nan Jing Lu.

I am not sure how this group came together. I guess it might have been employees from the big restaurants around having fun, but the energy of the people could be felt in the air and for the first time, in a very long time, it made me feel content and happy being in the city. It made me smile …and it still does… making it easier for me to get back to the studio now and keep working on more pieces for the upcoming DAFF fair in Shanghai on the 5th of May. If you are around, please come, have a look and support ProonK! There will be a lot of fancy jewellery to see, as well as freshly printed T-Shirts and for one very lucky person, there is a prize to win from our special ProonK prize-draw for the day.

The guy with the megaphone was awesome… cheering all the time and making sure that everything was ‘in order’. Have a look at the guys bending over on the right. Each side had about 15 people pulling, it was really intense!

Is this the world’s smallest Starbucks? It makes me wonder every time I pass. The ‘shop’ itself is fitted inside a huge pillar holding the roof of the entrance area of the Portman Ritz Carlton hotel. One side of the pillar holds the register desk, the other one is the one where the coffee is brewed. There is a lovely outside seating area to sit and enjoy.

ProonK pieces in progress…

DAFF on the 5th of May at the Bund in Shanghai. Come along! …more info soon.