Tag Archives: relational aesthetics

Please visit the original post ——–> HERE 

BL: Loved your enthusiastic scribbling on Bourriaud. I have a problem with your working hypothesis (as usual!?) but like your dauntless crusade!

Where I find you err (!?) is that (1) you assume that the similarities between art and jewelry are what will bring them closer (2) you use as ‘proof’ an example that is particularly unhelpful: Bourriaud’s relational aesthetics texts encapsulates a ‘meaningful departure from the norm’ amongst contemporary art makers: a way of engaging the public that is new, exciting, and representative of larger social concerns. However, while it is new and exciting for art, it is old (and exciting) for jewelry: i.e. jewelry, as you point out, has always relied on a form of public sharing to function. So in my eye, ‘relational’ is not how jewelry becomes more like art, but how art becomes more like jewelry.

KR: I am smiling. And I both agree and disagree with you. Yes, perhaps it is old and exciting for jewelry, but it doesn’t hurt to bring those qualities to the surface and compare it to something so concrete in contemporary art (has it been done?), so that at the very least, dummies who have never thought about jewelry, in its old sense or contemporary sense, can at least take a new kind of pleasure in it, or consider it (even just a tiny bit) to be something bigger and more complex than they ever gave it credit for.

It’s more like, hey everyone, you think this bourriaud relational shit is cool? well guess what: we’ve already been doing that for… ever. so maybe it is worth thinking about, or at the very least enjoying. oh and here’s a whole bunch of jewelry that you’ve never seen before, or even knew existed! you’re welcome. 

BL: I am smiling as well. Comparing is fine, and the way you express it there is more to the point, I think. I would urge you to envisage the possibility that what will make CJ more ‘like art’ is precisely what makes it different from art as we know it.

This dialogue was taken from email correspondance on April 30, 2013. Mr. Lignel is my editor at AJF. 


Well, not exactly. The following is… let’s say, an unofficial “edit” of a selection of excerpts from Nicolas Bourriaud’s writings on Relational Aesthetics. Although from 1998 (the english version of the book was published in 2002), the text is actually quite relevant to work in contemporary jewelry.  It’s almost as if one could replace most references to “visual art” or “contemporary art”-or really just “art”- with the word jewelry… and that’s exactly what I did.

I will note that when I use the word jewelry (I apologize if this is redundant), I am speaking to “our kind” of jewelry, contemporary art jewelry, as stated by Marjan Unger in her text and talk presented at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, during Schmuck. Click —> here for that full text. It’s quite interesting in comparison to Bourriaud; I would argue that the two are talking about the same thing, yet the problem remains that no one in the jewelry world has been willing to make these kind of comparisons (I would love to know if I am falsely stating). I would say that Unger talks about jewelry as relational aesthetics, yet can’t seem to just say so. Her text also ends on a somewhat disappointing note, as she suddenly steers far clear of vocabulary associated with the art world and simply resting on design and the history of jewelry. Am I alone in the search for a bridge off the island that is “our kind” of jewelry, to a bigger and wilder place like contemporary visual art? Most artists really could be on their way yet fall short in the framing/formalization of their work. START GIVING YOURSELVES SOME MORE CREDIT, YOU’RE ACTUALLY MAKING WORK THAT CAN BE DESCRIBED LIKE THIS:


nicolas bourriaud on contemporary jewelry