Archive

Tag Archives: munich

aka Secret Recordings No.1

CONFESSION: Justified as research yet an attempt that left me feeling awkward and kind of embarrassed, I secretly recorded every single conversation I had with artists/gallerists/etc during Schmuck week 2012 in Munich, Germany. I am only now in the process of transcribing these conversations.

Over a year and a half ago I walked into Volker Atrops’ exhibition, No Stone Unturned, at the Zipprich antiquarian bookstore where we fell into a delightful conversation about perspectives on jewelry and its cultural relevance. Below are the highlights of our conversation (his text is black, where I chime in is grey), as well as images from the exhibition.

Images and info about his Munich 2013 exhibition are to follow.

Mr. Atrops has kindly given me his permission to post this text. 

——————————————————

2012 – NO STONE UNTURNED

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The jewelry scene is a special club. And this club works over the whole world and that gives you an impression that something is going on. For example, Otto Kunzli, my old professor, in this world, is quite famous. He has a lot of students – but when I switched over to my home country, nobody knows about the whole scene. And here (Munich) people come in and say oh nice show, maybe it’s been 60 people from all over the world. But if I make the same exhibition in my area nobody is really – it’s not inside the scene.  So that is a pity that is isn’t really cultural, there are only somethings – Peter Skubic, he put a silver plate under his skin, you know? It was a time -1979, punk, they started to make piercings… and so this has to do with the time. Jewelry was going into body manipulation. It was really special; it was a kind of culture. Peter Skubic was sensitive, but in general it didn’t come from the academies, it came from punk, from whatever, music, and I think for the schools, it’s a pity that all this talent and all this –

There’s nowhere for it to go.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

Yeah, if you study engineering, sometimes you make a new car, maybe, and the car drives on the street, and you’re part of the whole culture. And when we study here in the academies, in Australia, in Providence, or in Amsterdam, in Stockholm, it doesn’t matter, you make work – or it was like this- you make work just for the club… mostly, not every time. Sometimes people try to get over this kind of border, sometimes.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned What is the ideal environment that you would chose for a piece of yours?

Environment?

Yeah, I mean where would you like it to live? Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

That is easy. That is, you! A girl, a boy… it doesn’t matter. And so for a show, I have often some show pieces, but not so much, not only show pieces, which is good in between – but mostly I try… big rings – sometimes so for collectors, or museum shows, for the serious goldsmith/jewelry art scene collectors, I make some bigger pieces. And also when you work for fashion, you work totally different, if it has to show up on the catwalk, it’s totally different work. It’s about the size sometimes instead of what it has to do with.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

What about problems relating to typical display conventions, of a gallery for example, and how that might distance the object’s pursuit for its idea environment on a body and everything it could mean…

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

Environment… environment. I don’t want to show an environment. But maybe it’s a language problem… environment for me is this room or something. But this room, it’s like a living room a little bit. Because the pieces aren’t going out so fast, it’s not a product. All theses books had living rooms, and now it’s still kind of a living room. And to show is quite easy somehow – yes it’s best to do it also with privacy. If you decide to buy a jewel it has to touch you, it’s not about – you don’t think like a picture or a movie, or other art. So it’s totally different. When they come in (to the exhibition), mostly women, and they choose the jewelry, they make really fast decisions. I like it or I like it not, it’s really fast. It looks like it’s without thinking. And sometimes I wonder if it fits quite well.  Not every time, because sometimes it’s a collector and they want to show it’s from Daniel Kruger or Manfred Bischoff, or, it doesn’t matter. They want to show off they are collectors in the scene. Outside the scene, if you have a show somewhere else and people want to have a piece of jewelry and how they desire, is really pure. Because it has such an old history, older than painting. It’s very sexual, it’s like hair going into ornament… so it really has to do with life, your body, not dying…  so if you connect something to your body, it is what stays. You have something and you die and the warmth comes, and then it stays.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

Do you think the people that buy your work think about these things? Or are we the makers the only ones?

No no no. I think no body really thinks about it, but they know all about it. They have this in common in every culture,, everyone knows about it, everywhere. Ok so if I name it now, it is not so important because everyone know is it already but the don’t talk about it, they know it. But it doesn’t matter if someone, a little girl, if you put a nice flower behind your ear or something it is also kind of jewelry, it’s nice. The flower is a pure sexual organ, and people, humans, don’t think about that either, but they know. Do you know what I mean? I make myself nice with that attribute. And that is what is so important and more important for jewelry than with art, the art scene, and I don’t know other names…

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

Would you personally like a wider more art based/intellectual audience for your work?

Yeah I like it. Most friends of mine – because I really like art, in Berlin, also I studied at the academy and most of my friends are artists, some of them are very good but not good at selling, and others are higher end, rich – and yeah I like it very much. Art is really nice, but I think for jewelry, it is really, really difficult. And with the quality of jewelry, it is so close to the body, this is the difference, it’s so close to, what do I say, life, humanity. In art you try to make the whole picture artificial, the whole life you want to show! In a movie! In an art piece, you want an artificial piece of life you want to show somehow, that is high-end art. In jewelry, you’re still a part of life and this is the difference. With jewelry you add to life a dead thing, but you add it, you know? You add it to humans. I add something to you. In art they want to make a whole picture and they make you a second time. Yeah it is quite easy.

You think it’s easy? Yeah but I make it really easy to explain.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

Sometimes I wonder why jewelry is marginalized or placed in a supplementary category, but other days, I think that all the things that define jewelry are so special and unique that why should I care if it doesn’t end up penetrating fine art. Why do I care? I care because I think more people should get to understand why we love it and appreciate it so much, I mean it was so easy for you to say all these things, that you say people know but don’t think about, but I would love for everybody to think about them, and I don’t know how to solve that.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

It’s nice, if you have people who are rightly educated or know about all these art things, it’s nice to talk… but the really basic thing is that these people sometimes lose the way, the professors… they’re really into this jewelry art and they sometimes lose the way, so they don’t get the point anymore. So they stretch the borders, it’s quite nice also…

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

They might be trying to please too many people? 

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

It’s also ok, and it’s also kind of cute… what could happen if they really stay or came to the real point? I said to Manon van Kouswijk, in the 1990’s was making a lot of pearl chains, this really really basic jewelry piece in a lot of ways… the sexuality, it’s pure, it’s a jewelry piece that has worked for how long make man can think. Something else that’s more culture, something like gold; if I make the same exhibition in my area where nobody knows about he jewelry scene and I make it in iron, it’s difficult, it’s not possible, not really.  Nobody will buy anything. They say, OH nice show! Oh, you have ideas? You are very creative, oh! But If I make the same show in a big city, or kind of the same show in gold, everyone would say, ahhhh, I want to have it, only because it’s gold, and so it’s about culture.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

I like this idea as an experiment, maybe making the same body of work in two materials yet indistinguishable, to see what would happen. 

Because in art there is also kind of – if you put something, everything, in Germany, in the white cube, and then you put something on a pedestal, that is something really important for a lot of people; Ahh that must be higher than me, also these things are quite important.

Volker Atrops - No stone unturned

**The textile pieces shown in this show were from the artist’s wife, Brigitte Atrops, as until 2010 she was part of the Berlin based label Boessert-Schorn. 

——————————————————

2013 – VINTAGE VIOLENCE

The background to the exhibition is as follows:

“Some time ago, I was invited to exhibit in a nineteenth century villa, where I made an exciting discovery. Behind the villa was a stranded ghost ship, in the form of an enormous, abandoned jewellery factory, the captain of which was still sitting behind stacks of dusty files and reading the latest newspaper. The ship’s lieutenant led me through the treasure-filled wreck… A year later my wife and I returned on a 14-day mission to hammer out the bitter remnants of the past. Embossing, punching, winding… the 1950s fashion-jewellery aluminium we found went into the early-industrial machines with such finality, that it was almost impossible to reproduce standard pieces, as is the case with genuine handicrafts. Through cottage-industryesque labour, the crude output of the machines was bound together into sheaves of lovely jewels. The pieces are numbered and stamped with BfG (Bund für Gestaltung / Confederation of Design ). The title “Vintage Violence” as well as the arrangement of the scene photographed for the invitation card are taken from a completely different context and originate from an early 1970s’ record sleeve (John Cale). Despite all the retrospect, the pieces are completely fresh and untarnished and were  on display for the first time in the Zipprich antiquarian bookstore, within the wider context of the Internationale Handwerksmesse ‘Schmuck’ exhibition.”

volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops - vintage violence volker atrops w/ CO

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. 

Nanna Mellond

flight plan

Nanna and Aaron
Nanna and AaronAbove 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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Have you seen the new Current Obsession Magazine yet? It’s basically the very first of its kind!!!!!!!!

CO originally existed as a blog about contemporary jewelry and then a website (promoting the field through the voices of the artists) created by the talented, Marina Elenskaya (artist and editor in chief of the magazine). And as of March 2013, CO now also exists as a bi-annual printed magazine that debuted at this year’s Schmuck. Marina and Sarah Mesritz (the creative director of the mag) launched the first issue, The Archetypein Munich, which was really exciting for me because they invited me to be a contributing writer/editor for the issue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here I am at Schmuck after having my first look inside the magazine. It’s the first time i’ve been published, and in the photo above, the page is opened to my introduction and interview with Karl Fritsch. The segment shows new pieces by the artist that were also exhibited at two Schmuck exhibitions.

Click —–> here for a peak inside.

I also had the pleasure of working with Alexander Blank on another interview about his new series, also exhibited at Schmuck.

Alexander Blank, King of my Blues exhibition

The CO team also asked me to help them create a guide for all the Schmuck events this year to help visitors navigate the city. After having contacted every artist or organizer for all the collateral Schmuck exhibition (for photos and information regarding their event), we tried to create a descriptive teaser, basically CO’s Schmuck 2013 picks, highlighting various initiatives we thought were worth seeing. To see the PDF, click —-> here

from CO Facebook page

Below are some photos of Marina and Sarah giving a presentation at the Messe, where the main Schmuck show was situated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To learn more about the wonderful backpack and suitcase by the design team Hanemaai shown above, click —> here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Above, Volker Atrops giving some critical feedback to the team, which you should feel free to do also! We are always looking for comments and are eager to hear what you think.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marina and contributing editor/husband, Chris van der Kaap at the show, Schmuck You, presented by Galerie Biró Junior and featuring the work of Réka Lorincz and Flora Vági.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Super babes Marina with artist and friend, Suzanne Beautyman 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sarah Mestriz toting around the mag and the guide at the Pinakothek der Moderne.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is artist/researcher/writer, Aaron Decker, another contributing editor of the CO magazine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

from CO Facebook page

Some team shots, below with superstar, Tanel Veenre

from CO Facebook page

CURRENT OBSESSION 
– is a new printed magazine about jewellery and its relation to different fields of art — performance, illustration, photography, etc. Apart from jewellery artists and critics, we feature material researchers, fashion designers, collagists and many more. Our goal is to create a different dimension for jewellery in printed environment. We tell inspiring stories about people and places, touching upon subjects like value, language and presentation.
Our motto is “JEWELLERY IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT “

check it out:  OPEN CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS !

“The second issue of the magazine will be about “The Youth” – students, newly graduates, alumni and up-and-coming artists, keeping in mind that being young is not about the age, but about the attitude!
Release date of the second issue – October 2013 launched in Barcelona JOYA/Amsterdam SIERAAD/Eindhoven DDW.

We have created this open call for contributions because we are searching for:

– Projects that connect jewellery to other fields of art/design/fashion: performance, photography, illustration, audiovisual, collage, sculpture, etc.)
– Research projects: material, formal and theoretical
– Great new jewellery!
– Hardworking writers!

Our goal is to show the diversity and potency of the upcoming generation, to outline their standpoint and tendencies and to address the problems and choices the young makers are subject to.

To contribute or for more information, please email to:
info@current-obsession.com with THE YOUTH as the message subject.

Deadline: beginning of June 2013 “

————–

Check out the CO website to order a physical copy of the first issue.

or, here is the LIST OF RETAILERS :

+Klimt02 BARCELONA
+Galerie Rob Koudijs AMSTERDAM
+Gallery Ra AMSTERDAM
+Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum AMSTERDAM
+Do You Read Me!? BERLIN
+You Are Here EINDHOVEN
+Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h MONTREAL (QUEBEC)
+ ATTA Gallery BANGKOK
+Chrome Yellow Books LONDON
+ Galley P’LACE DRESDEN

ellen maurer zilioli/manfred bischoff

I’ve finally started organizing all my photos from Schmuck 2013, so look out! I couldn’t quite decide how I wanted to break it all down this year, so to keep things simple, I will go chronologically based on the order of what I went to see. In comparison to last year, it’s probably much less; in 2012 I left Munich feeling esaurita, an Italian word that basically means, fucking depleted of any physical or emotional energy. A year ago I thought to myself, if I ever have to see another necklace hanging on the god damn wall, i’ll…. Needless to say I overdid it.

To avoid that feeling, I approached things differently and decided to just see what I’d see, meet who I’d meet and enjoy myself. So in that spirit, I’m happy to say that the delightful Ellen Maurer-Zilioli was the very first on my list to see.

The following is the blurb I wrote for Current Obsession Magazine’s Schmuck Guide (MORE ON THAT SOON!!):

From Brescia, Italy, Maurer Zilioli Contemporary Arts will be showcasing two artist/goldsmiths deemed legends of the field. The work of Bruno Martinazzi (IT) and Manfred Bischoff (DE) converge on grounds beyond that of noble material preference, but also through their shared geographical territory and subtle reference points. Turin-born Martinazzi inherited a devotion to Italy’s visual history, while Bischoff’s references are chosen and interpreted more freely. Dr. Ellen Maurer-Zilioli, gallerist and president of MZ Contemporary Arts, comments on the pair: “For all this complex artistic directionality, what ultimately emerges into the focus of perception are idiosyncratic pieces of jewellery, bearing witness to an irresistibly fragile yet stunningly evident beauty that is on occasion presented with an absurd or ironic twist.”

The exhibition will boast a perfectly digestible amount of work between the two artists. If you’re new to contemporary jewellery, be sure to stop here at the very least (!); it’s a prerequisite to what else is out there, a must see, contemporary jewellery 101, if you will. And the best part is that the exhibition is hosted by the contemporary art gallery, Kunstbüro Reillplast, representing a school of young, but very able artists. CO is excited to see what kind of fresh, new-art eyeballs will land on this work consequently. Maurer Zilioli always aims to bridge the gap between contemporary jewellery and contemporary art; after all, the gallery doubles as a Cultural Association aimed to do to just that.

ellen maurer zilioli/manfred bischoff

The lovely lady herself.

maurer zilioli/babetto

Ellen had some other goodies laying around that weren’t part of the exhibition, like this brooch by Giampaolo Babetto.

ellen maurer zilioli/babetto

This one too…
manfred bischoff

Manfred Bischoff’s golden masterpieces

Unfortunately I got a little sidetracked and forgot to take a photo of my faaaavorite piece of all time, The Madona del Parto, which was inspired by Piero della Francesca’s fresco of the pregnant Virgin in Monterchi, Italy, which I recently visited. Here’s a photo of the piece I stole from the website of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Musuem (Boston, MA), where in 2002, Bischoff had an exhibition.

mb

piero della francesca

CO

HI EVERYONE! I AM SO PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE (YOU’VE ALL PROBABLY HEARD BY NOW THOUGH) THAT CURRENT OBSESSION IS PROUDLY DEBUTING THEIR NEW MAGAZINE AT THIS YEAR’S SCHMUCK IN MUNICH IN JUST A FEW DAYS. I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO WORK WITH THEM TO CREATE A COMPREHENSIVE SCHMUCK GUIDE, SURE TO AID YOUR SCHMUCK EXHIBITION PERUSING! YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE PDF  —->  HERE, BUT IT IS ALSO AVAILABLE AS A PHYSICAL COPY INSIDE THE MAGAZINE. IT’S A LITTLE TEASER OF SORTS TO HELP YOU DECIDE WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE TO GO. I ALSO HAD THE PLEASURE OF WRITING TWO INTERVIEWS FEATURED IN THE MAGAZINE, ONE WITH ALEXANDER BLANK AND THE OTHER WITH KARL FRITSCH. THANKS CO SO MUCH FOR ALLOWING ME TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH A WONDERFUL PROJECT!!!! BE SURE TO GO TO http://current-obsession.com/ TO LEARN ALL ABOUT THE PROJECT AND TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU CAN GET YOUR OWN COPY OF THE FIRST PRINTED EDITION!!! YES YES YES JEWELRY RULES

below is a thumbnail of the guide!

thumbnail of guide

CO

If one was to compare the display conventions of the Pinakothek’s contemporary jewelry collection to that of other international art museums, there is an obvious standard. Although the Pinakothek’s devoted environment is extremely spacious and impressive, the shared standard is still a banality that unfortunately extends its reach all too often. Whether elevated off the ground on pedestals or vertically assembled against a wall, seeing works in jewelry behind glass is almost always the norm (the MFA Boston, MAD NYC, the V&A in London, click —> here for a nice video about the Pinakothek’s collection…). It can be said that the usually plentiful pieces that make up a series for exhibition have to be installed; the space is curated in a straightforward manner that normally remains indifferent to the work and its ideas as dictated by the limitations of the cases. It’s a unique problem, summarized well by Liesbeth den Besten in her book, On Jewellery, A compendium of international contemporary art jewellery.

The museum showcase stresses the preciousness and uniqueness of a piece of jewellery. When an object or a piece of jewellery enters a museum collection its appreciation is changed. Its significance has increased but so has its isolation. The glass vitrine hinders the creation of meaning : the object now has an art status.

But does it really, or is it a perfunctory illusion? Does gaining an art status really mean obscuring the object’s very own conceptual underpinnings? No, I don’t think so, yet in the case of jewelry it is an excepted turn of events. One could argue that the museum’s role is to enhance the qualities of uniqueness, not push them back, yet if the artist does not present this necessity, and many do not, then how much framing of the work is required of the museum as an institution? This is where my head starts to hurt. It’s like thinking about space or something, posing questions that no one can really answer. If one refers to my “Cosmology” of contemporary jewelry, there are arguably very different categories of work being made in the field, all with different motivations that extend beyond the guise of the word jewelry. As Stefano Marchetti recently told me, some work dies behind the glass, and some work dies outside of the glass. Considering all of that while also understanding that the potential life of any jewelry work is so much more infinite than a painting’s for example (sure, you can put the painting anywhere, but a jewelry work can be taken anywhere and simply given to anyone and so on and so forth), is where things get even more complicated. Interestingly enough, this aspect does add to the uniqueness of our field, just like its inability to be easily defined, explained and labeled. I often wonder if individual preference by artist is being met, or in which ways the artist values the lives of their pieces (I have an old blog post that address this issue a bit, read it —> here). Are museums really doing the individual pieces justice? Depends on who you talk to. Perhaps the museum’s most pertinent role thus far is to simply yell, “HEY, YOU! THESE THINGS EXIST!”

 Step by step by step.

Also in the Jewellery Talks film, art historian, curator, writer and lecturer Mònica Gaspar Mallol, talks about the duality of life inside or outside the glass.

Well, if I have to tell you my background, I come from a family of art gallerists, so for me art was something always hanging on your wall or something out of your reach. I was always interest in what you can use and what you can touch and what you can make your own. So I think that since I finished my studies in art history, I went directly for this field, I didn’t have an intermitted stage with other disciplines. That’s always a very interesting conflict that not only jewelry, but any object has. The moment you put something behind the glass, somehow you betray the nature of the object. You make it sharable, you can show it with the rest of the world, but the whole nature of use, of meaning and attachment with the owner or with the collector, somehow gets lost. So I think it’s very interesting the potential that jewelry has being worn on the body, which is almost the worst place to appreciate the piece of jewelry, it’s the worst place you can put an object to really see it and understand it because the body is in movement, you have so many other inputs that can distract you from the perception of the object; it’s very interesting and very paradoxical that the body actually is the best place.

Ok, so if we’ve decided that the museum elevates the work to an art status by negating the very idea behind it, when do others get to fully understand the power of the artwork? Islanders (remember, contemporary jewelry as a small and uncharted island) recognize the potential of the work, as they see time, thought, research and tactile relationship without having to touch. Chances are they know a little (or a lot) about the person who made as well. To islanders, the glass remains satisfactory, after all, their piece is in a museum. If Monica Gasper is right, the body isn’t necessarily so ideal as a place of exhibition either. Of course everything changes and it goes far beyond the technical problems of movement, etc that she mentioned. It’s also likely that the average person never actually gets to touch or wear or experience the piece to begin with; it’s an all too rare exchange left to collectors/buyers whether independent or from other contemporary jewelry galleries. More talking to ourselves. If it isn’t in the glass case and it isn’t on the body, then where the hell is it that those on the outside get to fully understand that these objects are more than precious relics or avant-garde accessories?

THE ROLE OF THE GALLERY EXHIBITION

As a city and center for quality museums and contemporary art, Munich also boasts some well-known contemporary jewelry galleries within its mix. In the case of Schmuck, additional spaces are created to house collateral gallery events, either as extensions of existing international galleries or independently run pop-ups. Because this entry serves to reference the specificity of Schmuck, it will avoid commenting much on the bigger name contemporary jewelry galleries that usually participate in Schmuck’s fair-like aspect; this year Galerie Marzee, Galerie Ra (Holland) and Platina (Sweden) presented themselves in this sense with set-ups adjacent to the Schmuck exhibition in the Handwerkmesse. I will also note that in general, the roles of these established and often quasi-historical galleries serve more similarly to that of the museum and are part of their own, unique system that includes a few exceptions to that very system.

Two of the more known Munich-based jewelry galleries that I was able to visit during Schmuck week were Galerie Handwerk and Galerie Spektrum, showcasing contrasting yet equally interesting exhibitions, despite my resistance to believe so. Handwerk’s show, entitled Die Renaissance des Emaillierens, boasted a list of artists too long to name (click –> here), all of whom are making innovative works with enamel. Usually with a list that extensive I normally get a bit… frustrated, yet all of the work seemed to be carefully selected so as not to appear that the gallery simply invited every single artist living on the island who uses the stuff (even though they might have). Enamel use is a common traditional element in jewelry that doesn’t see the light of day much anymore and obviously it was the exhibition’s common denominator. A show based on material is usually another ingredient for frustration but somehow frustration never ensued. Perhaps it was because most of the selected artists seemed to transcend the qualities of the material in contemporary modes, as enamel can easily connote a statement of “I’m old, irrelevant and boring.” Here is where the show rationalizes itself, an example of good curation even within a theme as banal as “what the pieces are made of.” Other antidotes to a headache include a combination of the gallery’s size (the space is enormous and spans two stories with an open floor-plan), the quality of the individual work, and the space given around each piece. Nothing was overcrowded, as it tends to often be. The gallery clearly respects the work, even though the pieces were once again bound to glass vitrines.

Here I find myself a living contradiction, as again, I was not releasing steam as I moved around the space peering into the protective display cases. I imagine this was so because Galiere Handwerk does not proclaim to be a mecca for contemporary art jewelry. It is not trying too hard to experiment with “new” display that often ends up being just as boring and unconventional as the traditional predecessor. In this sense, Handwerk acts more like a museum while employing a much greater level of education and communication because it is indeed a gallery, with someone present to talk to you about the individual works. Here is Galerie Handwerk’s blurb, absent of fuss and grounded in a special locality:

A showcase for Bavarian trades and crafts, the gallery is devoted to conveying to the general public an idea of the outstanding skills of today’s craftsmen and women and the contribution they make to society.

Mounting seven exhibitions a year, the Galerie Handwerk gives the crafts a highly visible presence on the Munich scene. The exhibition topics reflect all the diverse functions of the crafts in culture and society. They range from applied art and artisanry, through the trades and architecture, the maintenance of protected monuments, and folk art, down to design education and training curricula in the trades. The presentations cover traditional, classic and avant-garde approaches. And they extend beyond regional developments to those taking place on a national and international level. As this implies, the gallery makes a significant contribution to the dissemination and advancement of artisanship worldwide.

Fine, great even. I suppose one could say that Handwerk views this jewelry work to be that of the avant-garde. As it was a good opportunity to see pieces in person (however limited) by legendary and upcoming artist/jewelers (Pavan, Marchetti, other Italian greats alongside more internal and personal works by Carolina Gimeno and Kaori Juzu, just to name a few) Handwerk’s model as a gallery is old and of little interest to my search for contemporary new platforms that want to showcase relational aspects of work being made in the field. Even so and speaking within a very jewelry as (just) jewelry perspective, it was an impressive collection at the very least. The gallery clearly values the pieces as precious relics, and that is not untrue, of course, but my interests are less of how jewelry remains to be related to tradition and craft, and much more of how the field also (or instead) relates to contemporary art.

In contrast to Handwerk, Galerie Spektrum plays in a different ball game that deals more heavily with the artist’s overall concept by aiming to exploit it. Generally, a better example of conceptual recognition within an exhibited series is almost always seen in solo shows, if one can nail one down.

Ruudt Peters’ exhibition Corpus showcased a ring of black cloaks hanging from the ceiling, an installation seen before at Galerie Rob Koudijs last September. Peters is known for taking advantage of space to communicate the fundaments of his works, which this specific installation certainly does. Historically speaking, Peters was one of the first to be recognized for new and innovative display conventions (in 1992 his Passio series, for example, included an exhibition where he also enclosed hanging fabric from the ceiling to the floor around the floating pieces so that one would have to gently find their way in to view the work).

If one was lucky enough to attend the opening at Spektrum on the Sunday afternoon in which the exhibition commenced, Peters was in attendance gifting fragmented brooches of the pieces on show  to those patiently waiting in the long line outside. Spektrum is teeny-tiny, the line to get inside was inevitable. Instead of letting the special restrictions limit the extent to which Peters was able to expose the work’s social ingredients, he used it to his advantage. Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview I had with Peters with regard to how the performance quality in his actions can be seen as a singular artwork.

Ruudt: I asked everyone if they wanted a present, and then I gave one, and I said oh, you want –and I put it on your jacket or whatever, so I put it on everyone. But finally, I had this show of the Corpus Christi [on Sunday], and in every church on Sunday they give you the [eucharist]… I never can do it in my whole life again, a giving a present to someone, because then I kill my whole concept.

Me: And so do you see that act, that day, you doing that, as a work in and of itself?

Ruudt: Yeah. 

Ruudt Peters is interested in building a bridge off the island, he always has been, with work like this serving as a testament. He values the power of his objects, they are charged and are made to charge others, both tactilely and tactfully.

Spektrum values this too. During my visit I spoke briefly with co-founder, Marianne Schliwinski, about installation from the perspective of the gallery. She talked about how the gallery always tries to get the artist to use the full space, as exhibiting at Spektrum is also an invitation for the artist to think about their work in bigger terms or how an installation can also be their work at the same time. Schliwinski said that the opportunity asks the artist to learn more about his or her own work and how it might exists in a new environment, which can be very insightful for the artist, the gallerist and also the public. She paralleled this to self-publication, “it’s like if you do a catalog by yourself you have to reflect about your work… it’s easier to get in front of these unknown people if you have an overview.”

The unknown people are the audience, the public, people who may or may not know so much about the generalities of contemporary art jewelry. Schliwinski wants to communicate to these unknowns and wants to make the information of the artists and the ideas behind the work assessable. Here might be an example of how we are not talking to ourselves.

Interestingly, Spektrum hosted another exhibition simultaneously entitled, FOREVER YOUNG, 30 Jahre Galerie Spektrum (30 years Galerie Spektrum), a self-explanatory retrospective with corresponding photos of the gallery’s artists taken thirty years ago next two singular pieces in the outside display window. Works inside the gallery were crowded together on shelves behind glass, almost mimicking objects found inside a curiosity cabinet. Because of the nature of the show itself, a declared collection of pieces spanning three decades before, the display was forgivable and felt more like a treasure hunt or game of eye-spy.

Lisa Walker’s solo show GLEE at Galerie Biro, and Schmuck darling, Alexander Blank’s Totem on the Sideline at Galerie ARTikel3, were two more gallery exhibitions worth mentioning. I attended both openings; Blank’s happened to be quite a lot empieter than Walker’s due to the late hour of my arrival, yet thankfully so because I was able to see the artist and guests handling the pieces. Walker’s opening was literally shoulder-to-shoulder, and while she took a more conventional root display wise (walls with glass boxes, necklaces hanging on walls), there were a few pieces missing implying that guests were instead adorned. Walker herself could be found at the center of the small space with her elbow resting on an empty pedestal. I mention these two shows together due to their white box similarities yet willingness to pass the pieces around during the chaos that can be an opening event. This environment more accurately mimics that of a real life situation, as after all, jewelry is the everyday and is meant to be experienced.

As far as existing in a self referential island, these two shows had the potential to be bridge builders in their own way, mostly due to the strong and conceptual nature of Blank and Walker’s work. Blank offered a long and impressive press release (which was a text from a former exhibition at Gallery Rob Koudijis written by Keri Quick of AJF) discussing his series in a way that wasn’t confined to the world of jewelry or its history. Instead, Blank’s objects and Quick’s text speak to a universality that in turn rationalize the work’s own existence. More importantly, the verbal framework show a willingness to speak to new audiences while the anonymity of the gallery helps as well (like Spektrum, Walker’s gallery, Biro, is described as a jewelry gallery).

I would like to continue this post, yet due to a fear that it is already too long to hold your attention, I will post a part three, in time. Schmuck exhibitions still to mention will be group show, Suspended at Studio Gabi Green, Volker Atrops’ No Stone Unturned, Mia Maljojoki’s Crossing the Line, Galleria Maurer Zilioli’s showcase of artists Elisabeth Altenburg and Wolfgang Rahs, Returning to the Jewel is a Return from Exile (Robert Baines, Karl Fritsch, Gerd Rothman), the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp’s exhibition The Sound of Silver, group shows What’s in a Frame? and Pin Up. 

Do I? A friend recently told me that my first Schmuck response sounded a bit… irritated. My friend is not wrong. Perhaps this is another reason these responses are coming along so slowly. I remember that during my last day at Schmuck I was walking around with a new friend, Sam Hamilton from Alchimia, ranting about my frustrations with display and editing, etc; I may have also told her that even after all I had seen, I was bored. She asked me, “well then, what doesn’t bore you?”  Good question, Sam, good question. And I do actually have an answer, a few really, but I am quite sure it will come with a regular dose of criticality, like always.

When Sam asked me this question, we were at the Pinakotek der Moderne viewing Ädellab – The State of Things, an exhibition of Stockholm’s Konstfack graduates. This is what it looked like.

Seemingly not so boring. Fair enough. It was likeable, it was. The neon in the back drew one in, the hanging mechanisms were not as conventional as usual and therefore mildly clever (I do LOVE rope. And how dynamic RED can be! Zig-zagging lines of red rope! I know I sound sarcastic but I really was “into it” when I first walked up the stairs), but sadly, aside from the red rope I felt the exhibition was mostly likeable largely due to the fact that the show was in a museum, a museum which, in fact, does have a contemporary jewelry collection (gasp!), and it was in an area that one basically had to walk through to navigate the wing. But although likeable, I did eventually get bored. After all, the pieces were still just hung on the wall, like always. Perhaps bored isn’t the best word; frustration soon ensued  because of the following:

A) There was just too much– a problem such the opposite of unique that I don’t know what to do because no one else seems to agree that it is indeed, a problem. I do hope I’m wrong about that. SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME! But is this just the name of the jewelry game? It is beyond a reoccurrence.

B) A lot of the work was great (!!!), you might just not ever know, unless of course you are 7 feet tall or have incredible zoom-like vision. The image below marks a point of sever vexation.

These pieces are those of Hanna Hedman, who in my opinion, is doing everything right. I’ve known about her work for a few years and this was the first time I was ever able to see any of it in person. Among the other work in the exhibition, these pieces are intricately detailed and delicate yet with a masterful presence. Hedman is beyond skilled and uses a combination of my favorite things in her work, that is traditional techniques and materials that transcend their conventional limits by making the work ever so contemporary and compelling as both objects and jewels. Something delicious for everyone. The piece in the photo on the left I surely recognized, which sadly took me a few minutes to realize because it was hung about 5 feet above the top of my head, thus the bad photo.  WHY. Please visit her website linked above (click on her name) to see what I mean if you’re unfamiliar. Actually, I’ll post a picture from her website below just to wet your whistle.

Although there was a key (each piece was numbered so that you could find the corresponding artist on a provided piece of paper), there was no individual write-up of statements for each separate work or intent. Just more necklaces that have nothing to do with one another against a white wall, categorized by the lone fact that all of the participants went to the same school. Certainly I could have taken the artist key and done some further investigation via the internet once I got home to find out more about each piece… which I am still doing. If I honestly wanted to do the work justice, I’d really need to stay in the space for a whole day, or more. Really. And ask to touch the pieces. Or put them on. Would I be allowed?  Even as I looked around, I felt guilty for leaving after twenty minutes, which was all the time I had considering what else was out there. Schmuck really forces you to spread yourself thin! But am I simply just irritated for the sake of being irritated? All I want is to know more and be able to appreciate the work on a higher level!

In a small attempt to help fulfill this desire, click —> here to read about the exhibition and see some “in context” images of a small number of included pieces. I suggest you do. Here is a quote from Danish jewelry artist and Department head of Jewelry at Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) Karen Pontoppidan. “…The work was created because an artist, a human being with experiences, feelings, dreams and failures, wanted the pieces to be.”

I’ll let you sit with that for now as It may or may not be fuel for its very own blog post (will it be angry!?). Here’s one of the images from the above link posted below. The photo clearly magnifies the significance and thought behind the work. I honestly appreciated the pieces a hell of a lot more after seeing them.

Katrin Spranger, “Best Before”, 2011. Crude oil and its products, gold, silver

But why weren’t they included in the exhibition? This was a missed opportunity. If you recall, Anna Fornari was even able to include itty-bitty corresponding images with her display case-ridden pieces in the show Pensieri Preziosi earlier this year in Padova.

If you visit Spranger’s personal website you’ll find a refreshing artist statement and more pieces from her series, Best Before. 

Below are more pictures of the exhibition. Check back for the names of artists.

too high up!

I suppose I didn’t quite answer Sam’s question in this post, perhaps I will in the next. To clarify, and as you can see, a lot of the included work was not actually boring. Eventually I will post an example of an exhibition’s display conventions that served the pieces more appropriately. It can exist, I promise. At least one can only hope.

I also suppose I could leave you with some questions that I did not address but maybe should have. IS the work included in the show art because it is an art museum? Or is it still just jewelry that happens to be showcased in an art museum? Do they make such a strong distinction in Germany vs. other places? Does it matter? What say the reader?