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.

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Schmuck #3: Fallmamal – Umsturz erwuenscht. Nine Jewelers at the Bowling Alley.

Another exhibition I visited during Schmuck 2013 in Munich was the show ‘Fallmamal – Umsturz erwuenscht. Nine Jewelers at the Bowling Alley’.

The show was curated by Anja Eichler and Gabi Veit and showed pieces that turned around the idea of subversion and falling over. The nine artist taking part were: Sungho Cho, Anja Eichler, Beate Eismann, Julia Heineccius, Young-Hee Hong, Wolfgang Loeffler, Barbara Schrobenhauser, Gabi Veit & Manuel Vilhena.

As the name suggests, the exhibition was set-up in the bowling alley of the restaurant Theresa in Munich. It was the first time I had seen this kind of set-up in such a fun-place. When walking down the bowling aisle, it made me wonder how on earth I had not seen a bowling alley as a place for this kind of exhibition before! It’s the perfect venue to show jewellery. The white walls are perfect to show the jewels and it even comes with its own little green catwalk!

Unfortunately, I arrived very late at the show. Since the restaurant wanted to rent out the bowling alley for guests after 5pm, I had to rush down the ‘catwalk’ to take a little glimpse at the works.

Anja Eichler was there and she showed me her new pieces and explained the concept of the show.

Previously, Anja’s work was marked by the use of industrial rubber gloves. Now, living in Shanghai, she moved on to quail eggs as her main medium. Seeing the egg shells made me want to go back to Shanghai myself and pay a visit to one of my favourite restaurants that sell the best tea-quail-eggs in town! But even with a hungry tummy, it was very interesting to see how Anja concentrated on the patterns and colours of the eggshells and how she found ways to underline those qualities. I am always amazed when I stumble over materials in jewellery that are usually disregarded and rarely looked at twice but that are then transformed into something that shows their natural beauty with a force that feels like a slap in my face!

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.30.37 AMAnja Eichler‘s quail egg jewellery.

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I think this necklace was made by Gabi Veit from a previous bowling pin that was gnawed at by a wood worm.

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Schmuck #2: Plateaus Jewellery Project

As mentioned in my previous post ‘Schmuck #1: Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch’, I visited quite a few exhibitions during Schmuck 2013 and I decided to write about a few that had a lasting impression on me.

One of those that stuck in my mind was the show ‘Plateaus‘ of Idar-Oberstein makers: Barbora Dzurakova, Patricia Domingues, Katharina Dettar & Edu Tarin.

The show was on display in the attic of a five stories living house and I have to admit that I kept cursing my way up the stairs but I was rewarded with a very intriguing and well-balanced show. The four makers met at the Fachhochschule Trier in Idar-Oberstein during their studies (I think a few of them are currently still enrolled in courses) and they decided to show together on the platform of saying that they have the same starting points in being individual artists in Idar-Oberstein but in addition they can build up on each other and find links in their different works and making processes.

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When seeing the exhibition, the link of the works became obvious: big stones, either in their natural form or in cut shapes were present in most pieces. With Idar-Oberstein and its long history in the gemstone industry, this comes not as a surprise. Still, each artist used the medium in their own individual way but without giving or taking too much from the others. The whole exhibition had a feeling of relaxation and tranquility to it. No piece tried to stand out from the crowd, they were allowed to be next to each other in harmony.

Although the set-up of the show was a little bit more quirky and experimental, it blended in perfectly with the look and feel of the raw attic with all its untreated wood panels and floors. The artists decided to show their work on top of wooden drawing boards that are usually used for life-drawing classes in Idar-Oberstein. It was funny for me to see them, since they took me back to my student days, when I was studying there. But again, the artists arranged them in a way that took them away from their previous use and they transformed them into very funky looking display surfaces that looked like they had always belonged to that very specific attic.

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From all pieces, there were two that especially intrigued me.

One was a necklace made by Katharina Dettar. At first sight, I have to admit that it did not impress me that much. It looked like cut wooden sticks that were connected to each other. But when I figured that it was made from unpolished and cut semi-precious stones, I was intrigued. I had a very close look and I found that one part of those sticks might be made of agate but the other part still leaves me puzzled. Until now, I can’t tell whether it is also made from stone or wood. This play with the look of materials and having the viewer guess about its nature, without being able to touch and hold the piece, is incredibly tempting and quite a bit cheeky!

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 8.32.54 AMKatharina Dettar’s stone (wood?) necklace.

The other piece was a blue enameled, octopus-like, brooch of Edu Tarin. I have to admit that I am quite a fan of enameled jewellery anyway. However, Edu finds a way of connecting the ideas of traditional jewellery techniques with the individual eye and making of an artist. It was obvious to see that he comes from a very technical and strict jewellery making background, in using multiples of common jewellery settings, but it seems like he almost tries to drown this tradition in covering the settings in layers of enamel. Even the shape of the brooch seems to underline the revolting struggle of the settings under the heavy layers of enamel but without success. The hands of the artist win this interesting battle of goldsmithing knowledge and artistic practice. Still, I kept thinking over and over about one little detail… the use of the enamel is done in such a thick and sometimes clumsy looking and uncaring way that the idea of an experienced enameler at work does not come to mind. But then I guess this is exactly what Edu tried to achieve and where the most interesting stories begin…

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 9.02.27 AMEdu Tarin’s blue ‘octopus’ brooch on the left.

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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!

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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.

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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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