Artist, Nanna Melland was part of the main Schmuck 2013 exhibition with her work, Swarm, the very first piece ever in Schmuck’s history to be showcased OUTSIDE the plexi-glass case. This is a huge accomplishment, really, and after chatting briefly with the artist about how it came to be, it sounds like it was an up hill battle. If you’ve read previous posts of mine you should know that I tend to loathe work that is restricted behind display cases, and so let’s hope Nanna’s victory set a new precedent for future Schmuck exhibitions, acknowledging that some work deserves a little breathing room and a chance to really connect with its viewers like it’s destined to. The work’s freedom was imperative to its success, as each little aluminum airplane dangling from the wall was up for grabs, an honor system money box sitting beside (or as a part of) the installation.
As the week crawled by in Munich, it was quite touching to see all the people who picked one up, wearing them on their sweaters, each person perhaps from a different city, a different country, all converging at this event. I’d say that Nanna’s work was this year’s glue, really something to remember as it was quite attractive and easy to take one piece home and to feel a part of something bigger (even I bought one, the prices ranged from 10 euro up to 50). It was really something to be appreciated by everyone. Swarm speaks beautifully about the power of jewelry and its potential to map and unite in a way that other art genres are quite frankly, incapable of, at least this intimately. The strength of its singularity is also worth mentioning, as I would say the work of many other artists in our field rely on trying to bolster a piece by placing it among the company of many others quite similar. This piece on the other hand, speaks for its complete self.
Above are some images of the piece, as well as Nanna pinning my friend Aaron with his newly acquired airplane.
I would say that the work echoes a more open (and much needed) consideration of what contemporary jewelry is and will continue to be, beyond the rigidness of existing definitions or assumptions. To go along with that thought, below is a bit taken from an interview with the artist conducted by Aaron Decker (above), researcher/writer/jeweler, that was originally posted on AJF in September of last year.
How would you define contemporary jewelry?
I guess its like boxes in a cupboard. People usually tend to think of it as one box, jewels as jewels, but today I think we’re past that. There are so many artists working in so many different ways, that to put everyone into one box is not helpful anymore. On the other hand, there is also fashion, trends and the time you’re living in. Each and every individual is unintentionally a part of a trend. We have streams of expressions, periods of time where change occurs and this one cannot see before some time has passed. I think we need jewelry categories in contemporary jewelry. Now there seems to be some confusion. Sometimes confusion is good, but order brings clarity. If contemporary jewelry was more organized I think it would be easier to see more people out there and not just the few who are famous and are representing our so-called contemporary jewelry scene. It is an incredibly difficult question to answer, which I believe and trust the art historians to answer.
To see the full interview, please click ——-> HERE
Swarm was previously exhibited at Galerie Spektrum in Munich, as well as the Deichmanske Bibliotek, or the main library in Oslo, Norway, among other places and started as a site specific installation.
For more information about Melland and this piece, read —-> THIS by Norwegian Crafts Magazine