Tag Archives: interview

The following is an excerpt from an interview given by Marina Elenskaya of Current Obsession and artist Ulrich Reithofer

C.O: What would be the definition for you: I’m a contemporary artist, I’m a jeweller, I’m a craftsman.

U.R.: I am contemporary because I’m now. And I’m a jeweller because thats what I’m aiming for, is to be carried away, taken with someone. That the work is possibly given as a present with meaning of something related to jewellery: birthday, wedding, engagement… I just made a ring for a new born baby and his mother and this is how I’m a jeweller.

C.O: Why did you choose jewellery as a medium? Why not expressing yourself through sculpture?

U.R.: Well, I anyway do sculpture, because a ring is a sculpture, brooch is a sculpture, parts of a necklace are always sculptural. But sculpture is based on the ground, there is a relation to the human body in size, but it is based somewhere and stays there. The jewellery is somehow worn and at a certain moment comes to the body and creates this personal relation with the body, it communicates only through the body. And the sculpture would not do that.

C.O.: So the act of wear is important for you, its not to be sitting in the box or hang on the wall?

U.R.: It is OK for me, but the object that I make, this sculpture has to imply the use. Even if its not wearable, even if it hurts when worn, then there is a statement about the non-wearability. But the human relation that lies in dimension to the body is important.

C.O.: About the work itself, how it looks now and what it embodies, how did you come to this?

U.R.: Its about putting things in a different prospective. Say, the chair, we know it as a furniture object in the room. What happens to the object in the room when its worn on the body?
Its the irritation that communicates. I think jewellery has to irritate to work. It has to be something that does not physically belong to you. It is not a pimple on your thumb, or a scratch on your cheek. It is something strange, but then does it communicate? Sometimes it just doesn’t. But sometimes someone will ask: “Why does she wear a fucking chair?!” That would mean I achieved my goal – I started a communication.

the rest of the interview can be seen —> here

The following is an excerpt from an interview given by Marina Elenskaya of Current Obsession and artist Volker Atrops.

Here is the manifesto of CO:

Jewellery is what you make of it 

We are searching for new ways of presenting jewellery

We are collaborating freely

We are not attached to any place

We are creating a new world web for contemporary jewellery 
free of restrictions

We are attracting new audiences by taking over existing venues 
and creating crossed-media exhibitions 

We promote, show and teach jewellery

Join and contribute

the interview:


Current Obsession: Can you tell something about what this represents?

Volker Atrops: Yes, ok. I made this photo for this workshop, but before it was hanging like this in my workshop. But without the darts, just the board with the chain. I added darts to the sides later, just to make it clear that there is a center and the board symbolizes jewellery field, and the chain that hangs in the middle makes it clear that its about jewellery.

C.O.: Did you make the chain?
V.A.: No, I found it on a flea market, its clearly just a chain and nothing else, its a decoration piece for the body, jewellery piece, simple, no precious stones, no gold … Then there are three darts, I purposely put them on the periphery area of the board. And what I wanted to say with this, is that there is a whole field of jewellery and a center, which is maybe a simple wedding ring or a pearl necklace that has history, suitable to the body and has a lot of meaning and its so strong that no matter where you go, to everyone it is clear that this is a jewellery piece. And the fact that it fits very well to the body and very well developed over thousands of years makes it the center somehow. And then to see where the field ends, maybe some people explore boundaries because they are kind of bored, or maybe because what you can develop is already developed they are looking for new areas, for new fields, they want to put some things from outside ( that case from art) in. Then you have the periphery I name each darts after Rudt Peters, or Otto Kunzli or Peter Skubitc or other people that in the nineties or the eighies were busy with working in the periphery, trying to look for the boundary, or to overstep the edge of the boundary, they tried to do it. In general they didn’t get the point…

C.O.: Yes, because when you go on exploring, its nice to get out there, but you get further away from the center…
V.A.: You are getting out or want to open a kind of door somewhere, let something new in, its quite important, but most things are already defined.

C.O.: In contemporary jewellery? 
V.A.: not in contemporary jewellery, but in jewellery. It is a basic thing, like food for plants, for animals, jewellery is important for human beings, it existed for very long, and its still alive and it does not matter how the culture is changing…

C.O.: So the concept of “contemporary” does not concern you, it s just jewellery then?
V.A.: Well, there are differences… contemporary jewellery is also nice, because it means its “nowadays”, and then there is this artistic jewellery, or jewellery art, it is also something different, so you can find a lot of names, but is the end its about jewellery and what you are doing with it. This is precisely the point, the center is very important and if you are studying, don’t loose the center. Because, in the process you can turn to the periphery and explore, but you always have to come to the central point. Especially in art schools they’ve developed in a way, that it is expected to find a place in the periphery of the field. Because there is sort of a scene for those margins, and you make a good work, marking the territory in a way, and the work stays there somehow. But it is a very difficult position, because in former times jewellery field wanted to be perceived as art, but it didn’t really work out, because it was not accepted by the art scene. The critics didn’t really care, and fine art gallerists didn’t really care… I mean sometimes it works out, but more as an exception, its not enough. So it stays in this strange position, like between the two spheres. And thats why its a pity that all the talents at art schools don’t work around or try to manipulate the center. So they leave it to the main stream. And its a pity because the center connects us to the daily culture. To our culture. Like ethnic jewellery of Africa: to our eyes its exotic because of its strange forms or colors, material combinations, but it fits in their culture, it reflects their daily life. The kind of nature they live in, their conditions, rituals, the whole life span… But works made on these margins of the field, its more like a dead-born child. Some things worked out, but it didn’t really become a part of our culture, remaining a the small insider club of nerds.

To read the full interview, click here

for more info about volker atrops, visit these pages:


A jewel once you say so. A conversation between Christoph Zellweger and Manuel Castro Caldas , 1999

(Zellweger is a contemptory jewelry artist and Caldas is an art historian, curator, critic of contemporary art, art director. This interview was also taken from klimt02)

Manuel Castro Caldas – Looking at your work in retrospect, the first idea that comes to mind is that you belong to a specific family of contemporary jewellers, whose authors position themselves very bluntly within the tradition of jewellery as a craft, while questioning certain of its basic principles and premises: value and worth, function and aesthetics, what is jewellery, what it once was, what can it be tomorrow…. Do you feel that you’re part of this family?

Christoph Zellweger – Definitely…!

mcc – What about tradition? You make works of jewellery and I am thinking, for example, of the critical posture that led some painters to not make paintings…

cz – You can not make a painting without reference to painting, not jewellery either without reference to jewellery and relating the jewellery itself to the body. But you can reject, be critical with one’s own tradition. It’s just that at certain times, rejection is an option. Radical rejection of what came before is a creative option.

mcc – Do you feel this is still possible now?

cz – Things have changed. Twenty years ago there was a discussion going on among some contemporary jewellery artists in Holland and Germany about whether gold should even be used anymore, because gold was in the midst of a political crossfire in conjunction with the South African system of apartheid. Naturally that was a question of ethics, etc., but it also had to do with jewellery itself and it had a lasting effect on our self-understanding and the way we continue to use non-precious materials now. Today we are moved by very different topics, although, again, this involves ethics and political postulates. Currently, more jewellery makers are thinking about the body, which is being altered and manipulated more and more for medical and aesthetic reasons.

mcc – Some of your recent work addresses that question. You use expanded polystyrene as a material for jewellery, you form body parts or you chrome-plate bone-shaped pieces made of gold. In all of your work, I see this recurring idea of hidden materials, things that are not exactly what they seem to be at first glance.

cz – Now since CNN and Dolly, it really is not so easy to say anymore what is what, what is real. Manipulation is all around us. It has become a serious question, whether you should spend a huge amount of money on gold jewellery with lots of diamonds, or whether you should have your nose straightened or fat suctioned out or have your hip joints renovated for preventive reasons… I think people accept that now that the body does not have to stay as it is and are willing to also invest in improving their bodies, in cultivating their appearance, the way they used to do especially through the medium of jewellery. A more perfect body increases status?

mcc – Do you see a certain aesthetic appeal in the implanting of silicone cushions or metal parts in the body, rather like the jewel within?

cz – These parts themselves are often quite beautiful. Through an uncle, who is a casualty surgeon, I obtained a number of second-hand models. They are made with great precision and skill; they really are exquisite objects made of special high-grade steel alloys to be inserted in the body. But in order for it to be jewellery, there has to be a conscious intention about it. My works are not intended to be inserted into the body, and I have nothing to do with plastic surgery either. Yet I relate my work to the body, to the parts and shapes of the body, to whatever in our society is becoming technically possible, imaginable, feasible, and of course also to the aesthetics of these implants. Years ago, the jewellery artist Peter Skubic was already experimenting with objects under the skin. Currently an American sculptor is implanting arched steel forms directly under the skin…

mcc – We’ve come a long way since Otto Künzli’s “gold makes you blind”, that famous piece where a golden ball was hidden in a rubber bracelet.(1)

cz – That was a crucial, an important piece. He rendered the issue of value visible by hiding the actual precious material. Of course the gold is still there, but it is not the visible material value that is enticing, it’s rather the elaboration of the theme that is attractive and has been implemented in a wonderfully aesthetic way. I do see an analogy here to the steel implants, where value and beauty are hidden in the body.

mcc – Your work seems to deny ‘mere’ form, but one would not call it conceptual either, in the strict sense of the word. Your pieces show that they’re made with the utmost care, incorporating a great deal of care and attention to detail, to the craft. However, you’re also not a technician…

cz – The challenge is to implement the ideas in such a way that more is created than is actually visible. I am interested in a kind of ambiguity; … nothing can really be seen in only one way and no other. … I am also interested in crossing the borders to other disciplines. The borders between design, fashion and politics, art and philosophy are not static. There is movement at the margins, the boundaries are constantly being shifted, torn down and rebuilt. These boundaries interest me because something is happening there. Jewellery can be very much oriented to function and design, very expressive and personal, but it may also be conceptual – an idea. Jewellery touches on the whole spectrum; it can be anything – for the person who wears it or possesses it.

mcc – In many aspects, you seem to approach the question of meaning and significance like an anthropologist. It has to do with use. What do you see is the role of the body? How does the jewel work as a sign on the body? Why and when and how do people wear it – and is that important?

cz – It is important. I have some kind of a potential wearer in mind, someone with a certain attitude, who wants to get something out of the piece. But it’s never related to status, it relates to something much more personal. You wear the jewel or you hold the object and you behave different, you change your attitude… The object generates this tension, for yourself – but also for others.

mcc – Why do you need this ‘powerful’ object in the first place? Do you wear it (or make it) because it’s missing in the world? And it’s powerful because it refers to what is missing?

cz – Someone told me a story about this guy who bought a picture and then he hung it the other way around, turned to the wall, because it was too confrontational, too strong. But it had to be there, it was important. I think the oldest jewel must have been a piece that someone just wanted to carry around – close to the body – wanting it as something that was of significance to him or her – something that would give power. It can do so in the most subtle ways.

mcc – I’ve mentioned before that your pieces are very carefully done, that obviously incorporates labour. But they end up looking very economical, very light, in the sense that we don’t see the hard labour hammered into the piece. The craft is respectful of whatever – whatever else – is already there…

cz – If you don’t see the making, then it’s all right. I don’t like when the craft gets in the way… you did it, the work must go beyond the labour…

mcc – Six years ago you worked with Lego blocks and honeycomb in an installation in Austria, now you work with steel and with polystyrene. Does that mean you start again from scratch with each new idea?

cz – Whenever it is required by an idea I try to learn the necessary techniques, whether it be computer manipulated images or cast steel. With the polystyrene works, for example, I had no idea of how to work with this material, but I was fascinated by its qualities. Expanded polystyrene consists of tiny, originally opaque little balls, single, cell-like particles, which are made to expand tremendously through the use of steam and pressure. Finally, they condense into a shape. Cell for cell, they form a fragile body.

mcc – It’s very biological…

cz – It’s very organic, it’s about bodies…

mcc – You mean that you saw the material as metaphoric in itself?

cz – A metaphor where you wouldn’t know exactly everything that it could be a metaphor for… I became aware of this material for the first time in 1986-87, in Asia, where it floats around in even the most remote little stream. It is an universal waste product, an omnipresent product… and it is beautiful.


(1) …’a bangle of black rubber, the interior consisting of a golden ball – like a snake with a small elephant in its body.’
original text, Otto Künzli, 1980 (a photo of this piece can be seen in the blog post about Künzli below)