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THE ARCHETYPE ISSUE Issue #1 / Spring−­­Summer 2013

CURRENT OBSESSION

Jewellery is what you make of it


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www.current-obsession.com

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Rachel de Joode Severafrahm: Mirka Laura Severa & Michael Frahm Chris van der Kaap

Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Antwerp, Stockholm

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FOUNDER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Marina Elenskaya info@current-obsession.com

PRINTED IN BELGIUM BY New Goff, Gent

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Sarah Mesritz magazine@current-obsession.com

PUBLISHED BY Current Obsession Marina Elenskaya & Sarah Mesritz

ART DIRECTION AND GRAPHIC DESIGN Anna Hennerdal & Linda Beumer

ADVERTISING For advertising opportunities and other enquiries please write to: magazine@current-obsession.com

PROOFREAD BY Lisa Redford, Robin Waart Fred Mesritz, Fleur Mesritz CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Liesbeth den Besten Kellie Riggs Patrick Aaron Decker Chris van der Kaap

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The presentation of the Current Obsession Magazine #1 in Munich was made possible thanks to Hanemaai, and her project: My Infinite Home Tool (www.hanemaai.com) Cover image by Rachel de Joode, Limited edition piece by Noon Passama

ARCHIVES Serin Oh, Bettina Speckner, Jantje Fleischhut, Dinie Besems, Liesbet Bussche We would like to thank all the artists who contributed to the Archives call.

STATEMENT PIECE On Value, Market Economy and the Shape of Memory, Melanie Bonajo Work by, Maria Aparicio Puentes Body Snatchers , Goeun Bae

CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH Schmuck 2013, Alexander Blank, Karl Fritsch, Manon van Kouswijk, Kinga Zobel

THE PERFECT BEAD Geralda Jurriaans-Helle Conservator at Allard Pierson Museum

INTERVIEW The way of the Future, Chen Chen & Kai Williams Averagely Unique, Lin Cheung

THE PEARL GAME Locations photoshoot: Antiekcentrum Amsterdam, Aquarium Holgen Work by: Jantje Fleischhut, Felix Lindner, Stefan Heuser courtesy by Galerie Rob Koudijs. Sayaka Yamamoto, Adrianna Wallis. Photography by: Severafrahm

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MATERIAL Chemist, Marjan van Aubel PIECE BY PIECE Noon Passama by Rachel de Joode

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TRAVEL Twilight Nation, Tallinn, Estonia, Academy of Arts, Bruno Lillements, GRAM Group: Marita Lumi, Kristiina Kibe, Linda al-Assi, Maarja Niinemägi, Merle Kasonen, Lisa Kröber, Birgit Skolimovski, Kertu Tuberg, Kärt Maran ja Ettel Poobus, Gallery Hopp, IIDA Gallery, Katarina Kotselainen, Ketli Tiitsar, Ohuloss: Kadri Malk, Kristiina Laurits, Piret Hirv, Tanel Veenre, Villu Plink, Eva MargusVillems, Otse Group: Annika Kedelauk, Nils Hint, Rainer Kaasik-Aaslav

SCHMUCK 2013 Special show of the International Trade Fair Munich, 6. – 12.3.2013 Leitung/ Management: Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern, Wolfgang Lösche Organisation: Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern, Dr. Michaela Braesel. We would like to thank Eva Sarnowski for her help with the information about the Schmuck program

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"I just wanted to find out where the boundaries were. So far I’ve found out there aren’t any." — Damien Hirst We picked Archetypes as this first issue’s overall theme, as a way to touch upon the very core of the field of jewellery (this archetype being the ring, the pearl, the bead). It is also the foundation to move away from so as to see how far we can go.

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We started a dialogue with creative individuals of all kinds, from jewellers, to illustrators, writers, photographers, historians, fine artists, and product designers, to mix up the ‘creative juices’ and to see how one can inspire another. How, for example, an embroidered photograph is able to tell us about wearability and how the relationship between jewellery and a human body works; how an artwork with a small golden ring can trigger thoughts about invisible control in our lives; or how a collection of obsessions can question the fundamental subjects in the field of jewellery…

Volker Atrops (jewellery artist, Germany) inspired this issue with his comparison of archetypal jewellery to a family photograph in your wallet, something so universal that no matter where you go everyone knows what it is about. He was interviewed by Current Obsession in its beginning stages, when we started off as a website. We wanted to give a time and a place to the jewellery makers from around the world, an online forum where they could share thoughts about the field and show their work.

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It took precisely one year for us to take the next step and to materialize the primary ideas behind Current Obsession into a physical, tangible, 80-page dialogue. This dialogue speaks the language of jewellery; a kind of 'shoptalk', like when two colleagues get together and speak about the intricacies of their business.

"Jewellery is what you make of it"

This is our motto. An aphorism that reflects on what jewellery is and can be, for both the makers and the audience. It points to the abundance of materials and subjects jewellery can take on. It emphasizes that the borders of the field are constantly being pushed back, broadening our understanding with every new discovery that calls itself jewellery.

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We are very excited to present this magazine to you and hope that you will love reading it as much as we loved making it. In appreciation,

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Editors of the Current Obsession Magazine, Marina Elenskaya and Sarah Mesritz


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Greed — Liesbeth den Besten

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Statement Piece — Goeun Bae

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Piece by Piece — Noon Passama

The Archives

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Travel — Tallinn — Twilight Nation

Statement Piece — Melanie Bonajo

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The Perfect Bead

Interview with — Lin Cheung

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Material — Chemist — Marjan van Aubel

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Currently Obsessed with Schmuck — Karl Fritsch Alexander Blank Kinga Zobel Manon van Kouswijk

Statement Piece — Maria Aparicio Puentes

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Interview with — Kai Williams & Chen Chen

The Pearl Game — Severafrahm


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" What if a piece of jewellery is the connector between people and the magazine? Sometimes you see people walking with sheets of paper or a magazine rolled up in their hands. The bracelet made for the debut of Current Obsession Magazine will roll it up to go with you!" —Noon Passama

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To find out more about where you can purchase these exceptional pieces, please visit our website: www.current-obsession.com

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Photography by Rachel de Joode

final results – casted hard resin bangles, shaped like a continuous number eight in different metallic shades: dark silver, black steel, bright and muted copper. Noon wanted to create a wearable piece of jewellery, which would also interact with the magazine in a fun and quirky way, so she proposed to use it as a handle to carry the magazine around. We love this idea and hope to see it spill out on the streets!

When planning this first issue, one of the essential ideas was a collaboration with a talented artist/ designer for a jewellery multiple to be sold along with first 150 magazines. The perfect candidate was Noon Passama, an Amsterdam-based Thailand-born jewellery designer with an impeccable taste and a great sunny personality. She is known for her fantastic Extra Button series and the award-winning collaboration with the fashion designers of Capara. While discussing our project over cappuccinos, Noon agreed to collaborate. She proposed some exciting ideas and few months later we were presented with the


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Text by Liesbeth den Besten

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I see things, flat things, round things, cubic things amorphous things, carved things, soft, heavy, shiny, rusty, and worn out things, composed things, assembled things, things with colours, structures and protruding things, hanging, dangling, stiff and clinking things, big things and miniscule things, things with holes and things carrying things, colourful and monochrome things, meaningful, empty, dangerous, daring, funny, beautiful, bumptious and ridiculous things, things made of metal, wood, textile, glass, paper, plastic, glue and stone, things wrapped together with tape, thread, and rubber bands, things that are like monoliths, things that are airy …I think…I see jewellery. I think I see it everywhere, on the streets where my bike brings me, on people, in architecture, in paintings, on my plate, in my cappuccino, in nature, in shop windows, in galleries, showcases, drawers and museums. You might think I’m obsessed. I collect impressions of jewellery, things that look like jewellery, and also real jewellery, childhood jewellery, family jewellery, contemporary jewellery, and lost and found jewellery. The latter is only a small part of my collection: nobody looses jewellery, only fools do, and if they do I pick it up and collect it. Jewellery is not for loosing; jewellery is for wearing and collecting. One can have

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amounts of jewellery, and ideas about jewellery, without having a problem storing them. Jewellery is small, that is one of its virtues, just like pebbles, shards, shells, and all other remarkable small pieces of drift junk that cross my path, like souvenirs of a certain occasion and place. I also collect those. Collecting implicates completeness. A collector wants to have more, wants to have it all, and is driven by a longing to own, by an uncontrollable greed. Our forefathers took artefacts from indigenous people; they bartered smartly (some beads for a piece of land) or just made off with the most exceptional artefacts. Colonists and occupiers built collections based on robbery, just like the first archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists and biologists did. Napoleon collected famous artworks in the countries he conquered – the yield of his looting in Egypt and Italy triumphantly depicted on huge and gaudy Sèvres porcelain vases: processions of soldiers, horses and carts carrying antique statues such as the Laocoön, the Apollo Belvedere and the Dying Gaul. Beauty makes greedy, greed can turn into looting, both are the foundation for collections, and collections make Wunderkammers, Cabinets of Curiosity and our museums.

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Archives started as a visual journey into the obsessions of different jewellery artists. In November 2012 we created a public call for entries, inviting jewellery artists to share their inspiration with us. We asked them to send us inspiring texts, images of material archives and collections of found objects: anything they feel has to do with being inspired by an idea, being immersed in it and seeing it everywhere. Those "obsessions" create connections that were not obvious before – ideas, forms, emotions and, eventually, jewellery.

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This collection developed as an almost anthropological study into inspirations and interests of contemporary jewellery artists today. We have received over a hundred emails and the results artists shared with us were indeed curious and surprising. Current Obsession Archives will feature a selection of the material we received, a choice that, we hope, will tell a story about the field of contemporary jewellery, trigger your thoughts and reinspire.

Bettina Speckner

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Statement Piece This is a rubric in which we find jewellery interacting with the world around us. As the world around us provides us with anything from readymades, modernist painting, forensic science to unknown stories. It is a space — a 2d environment — inside this magazine dedicated to experiment, extensive questioning, and the range of possibilities that include jewellery in its many appearances. In a dialogue with the work and/or the maker, we look and try to find something we hope can tell us a little more about who we are and what we do. 'Jewellery is what you make of it'. 12


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Hidden | 2012 | single channel HD video | 3min 53sec | Black and White


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Hidden | 2012 | single channel HD video | 3min 53sec | Black and White

Thumb and Toe Rings by Goeun Bae

A television screen is glowing intensely in the dark room. Approaching it, one would see a black and white video, tightly edited shots of human limbs in a constant struggle. The intensity of this struggle ranges from idleness, rest, caress, sudden alert, anxiety and panic. One would hear the sound of the rubbing skin, snapping nails,cracking joints very closely. At some point it would become evident that the cause of the struggle is an invisible object that binds the limbs together, holding them tight. What can it be? Goeun Bae (1984, South Korea, visual artist) was looking into an ultimate symbol that can be precious, valuable and desirable on one hand as well as having the ability to represent control and power on the other. Intertwining two rings together she created an object that makes use of the history and symbolism of this piece of jewellery. An archetypal gold ring, a shape resembling the wedding band, immediately creates strong connotations in our minds. Binds between people, promises to belong to someone, ultimate symbols of the relationships between human

beings are all packed into Bae's small, shiny object. The conjunction of two rings creates a shape that brings to mind a symbol of infinity. Whereas a symbol of a single ring – a complete circle – reminds us of an eternal bond and sense of belonging, the anamorphic joining of two rings connotes physical restraint. If gold in the case of a single ring stands for hope and justice what does it symbolize when it comes to the feeling of oppression? A trivial process of putting on a ring is transformed into an instant limitation of freedom and movement – the body becomes oddly constrained. The black and white video depicts the power symbolized by the rings, which is invisible yet tangible. The absence of colour anonymizes the individual and places the viewer in a space of quiet contemplation. The ring references external and invisible forces, framed by etiquette, education, family and society. Something apart from ourselves we have to deal with in our lives. Never a ring was put on a finger, captivated by a sudden need to break free.

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The trade secret of Murano – an island off the coast of Venice, dedicated to glass bead making - was secured in a Fort Knox fashion. None of the craftsmen (mostly women) working on the island were allowed to even speak to foreigners.

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According to the archives of the Amsterdam city board, it appears that in 1597 a master of glasswork called Antonio Obizzo was brought to the city of Amsterdam to teach the production techniques of already world-famous Venetian chevron bead. Obizzo left Murano under strict circumstances and until this day it is not clear whether he was bought by the Dutch or taken away under false pretense. He could never go back due to a death penalty condemnation devised immediately after his getaway.

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The night slowly covered the island with a thick veil of black and Antonio ventured out of his hideout and proceeded to the agreed meeting point by the abandoned warehouse. He had to keep close to the water, walking slightly sideways, so that his face would not catch the light of the street lanterns. He was trembling from deep inside, feared for his own life and lives of those he was leaving behind. But the decision was made. The word was given and hands were shaken. There was no way back now... Tensely peering into the dark waters, he saw a distant shadow of a dinghy. There were no lights on - they could not afford being spotted from the shore. They were waiting afar in mortal silence. Antonio approached the meeting point and then sat down, hiding behind a gaping mouth of a flipped rotten boat. He had to give a sign– light up a candle and raise it two times. It took him few minutes to complete a simple task – his hands were shaking like never before. At last, the sign was given and Antonio heard muted whispers as the boat started gliding toward him, ever so slightly touching the water with it's paddles…

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Murano Island, Venice, Italy, 1597


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In 1490 a death penalty was set if the glassmakers were to leave the island, or pass on the secrets of the trade abroad. All the materials used in production process originated in Italy, safeguarding both the purity and profitability. These measures meant maintaining the monopoly which Venice held since the 10th century on the production of the finest and most desirable quality of glasswork. The Venetian glass masters were able to produce the nicest and brightest colours through adding different materials: cobalt would make glass dark-blue and when lead was added it would turn into light blue. Copper made glass green, lead – light green. Cadmium turned glass yellow, lead orange. Before 1930 the glass masters used gold to produce red. The illusive chevron bead bears a distinctive pattern that seems to be painted or enameled on. However, the intricate pattern is in fact created by individual layers of coloured glass. The initial core is formed from a molten lump of glass – a "gather". An air bubble is blown into the center of the gather via a blowpipe, thus creating a cavity – the future bead’s perforation. The gather is then plunged into a star-shaped mold, which can have anywhere between five and fifteen points. Up to eight layers of different colour glass are subsequently applied. Then the glass is "drawn" or stretched out into a cane by pulling from both ends in opposite directions. The bubble at the center of the gather stretches with the cane and forms the hole in the bead. Later, the cooled glass cane is cut into short pieces, which are ground at both ends, revealing desired chevron pattern. The outer sides of the beads are also ground in facets, so that deeper layers come up to the surface. It’s the pattern of this bead that makes each one appear visually unique.

"Wait… so the Venetians produced the original, the Dutch copied it. Then the Africans copied the Dutch. And finally the Dutch and other Europeans copied the Africans". We set out to investigate several chevron beads out of the 20.000 pieces Van der Sleen collection, housed at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam to find out what has been and still is making them so desirable. What properties do they possess and how could their value travel so quickly? The first beads we looked at were the ones of the 17th century, produced in Amsterdam after the arrival of Obizzo. The Dutch merchants would find out that ‘their’ version of the Venetian bead never really matched the perfect original in terms of clarity and brightness. The soil and water in Holland differ from those in Italy, so the white was never quite as white and the red – never as red. These failed attempts at creating the perfect bead, however, didn’t stop the production of chevron beads that lasted for more than a century. Much like the watermarks in our countries bank notes the chevron beads carried their own production hallmark: its inherent quality and distinct skill represented a direct kind of value. This 'monetary' way of looking at these beads is what defines the way we look at them and appreciate them. Because of the trade, beads became a commodity, representing value all across the globe. Beads may have had a different value depending in which part of the world they were traded: a bead which is not rare in one place and does not have a high value, may be traded for high price somewhere else, where it is considered rare. The production of these beads might have been less of an effort to chase the perfect jewel and more of an attempt to produce something both small for the sake of transportation and huge

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In the 18th century, it seems, the Dutch glassworks took a step backwards. The Dutch returned to making a simpler version of the chevron bead in a limited colour palate, as they needed more beads for the VOC (Eastern Indies Trading Company) and its worldwide trade. The production needed to be hasten, therefore the Dutch artisans stopped attempting to produce the lovely layered glass bead. Instead, they made beads from only one glass layer with the coloured stripes already embedded; much like the African beads. The native beads - although using different materials - were inspired by the European beads. But as the time went on and the demand for the ‘exotic’ grew towards the end of the 19th century, the Europeans started using the native beads as an inspiration. So, the Dutch copied the Venetians, the Africans copied the Dutch copy and then the Dutch copied the African copy. Wait…so the Venetians produced the original, the Dutch copied it. Then the Africans copied the Dutch. And finally the Dutch and other Europeans copied the Africans. But maybe we are missing the point here? Looking at the beads within this linear narrative we often overlook what is truly remarkable about each one of them. Whenever we stop thinking about a simple 'copying' and setting a monetary value, we can start seeing and appreciating the inventiveness of each culture and getting a better glance at what these beads may have to tell us. Instead of 'copying', which indicates a 'perfect' original, we might want to speak in terms of 'transformation' as we can see the form, size, clarity and colour of the beads change according to the place and time they've been produced. From the Venetians, the Dutch, Africans and back again -every bead -every time attributed to a new aesthetic that we think largely inspired their rapid exchange. But instead of money, it brought along something to wear and to admire.

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in terms of leverage in trade. Many things rare and valuable have suffered attempts at recreation, falsification or counterfeiting. Having acquired the chevron bead through merchants from Europe who traded it, Africans soon started their own chevron bead production from recycled glass, using crushed glass from medicine bottles and the old beads from Europe. The powdered glass was slowly poured in a clay block in a pit; the whole block was then baked. This technique was easily accessible for the local artisans, as it didn’t require the high temperature kilns - recycled glass has a lower melting degree. This production method delivered much less consummate beads when compared to the fine Venetian original. They are mere copies - not nearly as rare as the ‘original’, but by looking at the beads in this monetary fashion, we fail to see how the inherent quality of each reproduction possesses its own intrinsic value. Something about trade that returns more than mere profit: an interchange of cultures, means, resources and production.

This material was realized with guidance and advice of Geralda Juuriaans-Helle, the curator of the Van der Sleen collection, at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam for her graceful help with this story.

(Title Page) Tray 103, diameter 8mm is a modern Venetian chevron bead. Plate 68, row 8, bead 7, diameter 10 mm Bead from the ‘Boeren Wetering’ (This is the RAI in Amsterdam nowadays. These are nicely colored, nicely finished beads, probably these were the first after the arrival of the Venetian glass master. A lot of these beads where found in the Indian Graves in North-America and Canada).

Plate 72, row 2, bead 3, diameter 20 mm Garbage from the factory, found in the 'Boeren Wetering', failed beads. 008, African imitation of the European chevron bead The Dutch imitation of the "exotic" version of the chevron bead

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Work that comes out of Estonia is mesmerizing in it’s own intangible way.

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We wanted to know more about who these makers are and why they have a tilt for the dark matters‌

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Most things having to do with jewellery circulate around a large corner building in the center of Tallinn - Hobusepea 2. This enterprise of a building belonged to Joseph Kopf, a German man, who established a jewellery and silversmith company here in 1891. In it’s glorious past, it was swarming with workers who produced pieces in diverse workshops across the building and sold them in luscious jewellery shops on the ground floor. Now it is a maze of countless artist ateliers and living quarters, where gold and silversmiths carry on the tradition. Passages here are long and curvy; floors succeed each other through tight stairwells; original Kopf machinery is scattered across the building. The courtyard shows vertigo of windows with jewellers benches; balconies, stacked with materials, rusty metal objects and glass jars. It is a breathtaking anthill. Here and now is where Tallinn contemporary jewellery is made.

Hobusepea 2

How did we end up here in the first place? Well, the work that comes out of Estonia is mesmerizing, dark and poetic in it’s own intangible way. I guess we just wanted to know more; more about who these makers are and why they have the tilt for the dark matters, masterfully twisting the story with wonderful unexpected turns. Academy of Arts has not been in its original dwellings for many years. Instead the Metal studies are being pursued in an old science institution, where the laboratory and libraries were located in the communist pat. There is a maze of nuclear hideouts, framed with thick metal doors, sitting deep in the guts of the building. If you pass the metal workshop, with all the hard cumbrous machines, acid cabinets and rusty-dusty tools and follow a dark narrow corridor, you will see a door to your right – it’s a sauna. People constantly use it, and this combination of spaces is striking: somehow it makes sense here! In a place, where people know about Polar Night firsthand and where it’s dark almost 8 months a year, sauna in the metal workshop of the Art Academy makes a lot of sense. "I think people are very deep here… Metal students considered being the heaviest drinkers in school. But you have to find a way to let it all out… There is a lot of suffering, but also a lot of joy…" – says Bruno Lillements, former student, and now an independent maker. Bruno is showing us an abandoned rusty pool in the courtyard. It used to contain an enormous computer back in the soviet past. We are standing outside the Academy looking into the windows. He smokes and tells us stories. It’s already getting dark…

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Inside one of the goldsmith studios at the Hobusepea 2


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" There is a lot of suffering but also a lot of joy "

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Colorlessness Inside the school we are looking at the wall of student’s work, contained in glass boxes. Mostly metal, very intricate, labour intensive pieces, very detailed and refined. Black and grey. Mostly grey. The colorlessness is a part of the local identity. But it is not about intentional absence of colour, it is about the natural colour of the material. And the material is natural in almost in every case. In 2012 Rainer Kaasik-Aaslav carved a decorative egg titled "Circle Dance", depicting three dancing men, with hands around each other’s shoulders. While carving a speckled whitish moss opal, he stumbled upon another stone that was growing inside of it – a lighter, softer kind. This discovery led him to carve a figure of a child and keep it inside the object. He comments: "I will not use a material that mimics something else. I will only use an original." "Natural material is like a partner, it’s moving all Katarina Kotselainen 
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Silence When asked what makes your work Estonian, Piret said: "Silence. Inside ourselves. We are silent people. In nature there is silence." "Jewellery is an art form, along the lines of music, painting, sculpture, theatre, etc. You cannot call jewellery an applied art, because its application is not purely functional like that of a ceramic pot. The function is emotional and very intimate. And it’s worth something. Emotional function means you don’t have to wear it, or it doesn’t have to be an object with a pin… It functions for our senses. Jewellery is an investment in emotion." Famous Estonian composer Arvo Pärt recorded his famous Tabula Rasa back in September 1977 in one of the Tallinn’s churches at four o’clock in the morning. One of the main features of Pärt’s style was his ability to articulate silence. The piece consists of considerable silences, and the sound of silence is what he was trying to capture.

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"After the Storm" Piret Hirv


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Kristiina Laurits at her bench

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Piece by Kristiina Laurits Brooch, animal liver, silver, scapolite, citrine, Japanese lacquer, 2009

"Do you know about kaamos (polar night – Finnish)? It gets really dark here. No sun for eight months a year. November is so rainy, and, of course, there is sun behind the clouds... but already starting in September it gets dark around 6 p.m." - Kristiina Laurits is another member of Õhuloss. She is interested in objects of status and luxury. I notice beautiful lacquered brooches, painstakingly decorated with precious metals and stones. This reddish black glossy material is animal liver."I find liver as a material very interesting because liver is a very symbolic organ. For ancient people liver represented an organ that contained all dark emotions: jealousy, anger, etc. It is a very mythical organ, and a very emotional organ. I made it darker, covering it with lacquer. I decorate it and I make a jewel out of it, so people can put their negative emotions into the piece, rather then into their own liver." In many ways Kristiina’s work deals with decoration of a simple non-precious material and through that process she eventually creates an object of desire. She made beautiful work with dried pieces of brown bread, set with precious stones and covered with gold leaf. Once again, she lifts the value of the bread and it’s meaning in times of war or hunger. A piece of jewellery, being the last in the line of goods and the "daily bread" being the first - merge into one in her work. "I like contrasts: like liver and stone, or piece of bread with gold and emeralds. There is preciousness that is universally recognized. And bread is very precious, maybe not as a material for jewellery, but for a human being in general. Estonia is a poor country, we do not have history of gold production, like Etruscans in Italy, and in our mountains we don’t have precious or semi-precious stones. So, in a way, we mentally allow ourselves to be open to what surrounds us, wood, salt, animal originated materials". Being surrounded by forests, many people have country houses where they grow their own food and often have animals as well. Closeness to nature makes their understanding of materials of animal origin quite the opposite to the conventional: not disgusting, but beautiful. The closeness of the forest is unbelievable.

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We are driving through Tallinn with Annika Kedelauk and Rainer Kaasik-Aaslav 2/3 members of the OTSE collective. Approaching the Northern part of the city we see how forest intertwines with human dwellings. People are coming in and out of it, jogging, walking their dogs, and for a second one might think it’s a city park, but looking deeper between tree trunks one sees a lurking pitch-black thick forest. I see the water and ask Annika to stop the car. I want to have a look at it. I walk to the shore, covering myself with an umbrella. It’s still raining. On the shore, I see how the grey wet asphalt enters the dusky grey water, which in turn transforms into the grey gloomy sky. There is almost no way to tell the difference. It’s our second day in Tallinn. e

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Old center Tallinn

– Black is your favorite colour? Or mood? – Yeah, mood I have been in black since I was born We are meeting Kadri Mälk around 1 a.m. at her home. There has just been a storming rain and in a matter of minutes old city center is flooded knee-high by muddy black water. Kadri’s house in quiet and dusky. We sit and listen. She talks about becoming the head of the metal department: the story of a young professor, too young in fact, but chosen by her predecessor Leili Kuldkepp. It’s a journey full of struggles and hardships. She refers to it as "missionary work".


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People like her are natural leaders, destined to become powerful figures, retaining not just "earthly" credentials, but mainly a complex position of being a spiritual leader. A shaman is not just someone in contact with the "other side", a transmitter of the will and order, imposed on us by higher powers, but also Brooch, an influential member of the society – a mediator Unexpected Angel for those who want to get in contact with the pre Painted cibatool, silver, existing environment. Kadri Mälk is a true shaman, white gold, black raw diamond, aquamarine and in this way she resembles Joseph Beuys and his teachings on energizing our spirituality and combining it with our thinking: "Our vision of the world must be extended to encompass all the invisible energies with which we have lost contact." He believed that the "enchanter" must appear in places of rational thinking to distract from rationalizing, thus destroying emotions and creativity. Mälk took the position of a teacher, who not only helped to give form to Estonian contemporary jewellery, but also pointed out its gravitational centers and supplied the newcomers with endless re-telling of the story. There needs to be a solid story, so a stranger can begin to understand. At first, her words and writings seemed too airy, intangible, like chasing something in the middle of a pitch-black night: it seems like you are almost grasping it, but when you open the palm of your hand - the only thing there is your cold sweat. But understanding the commonplace, confiding with the existing, agreeing with the proven is not where art begins. It begins outside boundaries.

"Jewellery belongs to the spirit, and that is why the function of being worn is not a prime one."

Kadri Mälk As a Mountain I Remain Silent

Mälk: "After all, it is not essential to see what has not been seen before, but to think differently about what everybody sees. Expressed in unusual enigmatic after iconography." Kadri Mälk finds significance in depth of both matter and energy. She seeks the materials that contain spiritual power. She knows physical qualities of stones and metals, but speaks of them in her own way. For example she calls a jet "stone that experienced life" and therefore she finds its dust precious. She compares coral to human skin and thinks of facet cutting as an accumulation of circumstances. Jewellery belongs to the spirit, and that is why the function of being worn is not a prime one. Nevertheless, jewellery helps us to connect to a comfort zone, transform our thoughts in another direction, make us feel safe and keep remembering… How many times a day you touch your wedding ring or a pendant without even noticing?

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Our meeting with Tanel Veenre took about three night hours. Despite the fact that his work was one of the reasons we wanted to come up to Tallinn, his personality and vision go far beyond expectations. He is intensely charged with an intoxicating mix of carnal and spiritual energies: "The abundance of energy always comes up in my conversations with people. I sleep seven hours a day and can work 16 hours straight for years. But don’t look at it as sacrifice or heroic deed, it still pure egoistic fun. I am just this bad in resting!" Tanel Veenre might rightfully be considered one of the most well-known Estonian contemporary jewellery artists of today. We asked him how does he feel about his success: "I don’t have that feeling. Exhibitions and proposals are happening a lot, but our world is small and after all it doesn’t matter if you are famous in your street, in your town or in the world. It’s just stretching the scale a little bit. Everything is a moment and then it’s over. The End. I’m constantly thinking about that, looking at things from a big prospective, thinking about eternity and death and these sorts of things. So, somehow I’m not so concerned about being known somewhere now. Of course, those are nice moments, touching contacts between two human beings, but in the evening I feel like all is so small on the scale of eternity."

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Tanel Veenre in his studio

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Trophy VIII Neckpiece 2012 Wood, silver, cosmic dust

Trophy I Neckpiece 2012 Wood, silver, cosmic dust

Trophy VII Neckpiece 2012 Wood, silver, cosmic dust

Trophy II Neckpiece 2012 Wood, silver, cosmic dust

Obsession

Tanel about the future "I think art history will be re-written and it will happen quite soon. We find ourselves in a very decadent era. I made my Master Thesis based on a "triangle of everything":morning-day-evening, childhood-fertility-dying… All the known cultures went through this triangle. They start somewhere, they have their peak and then they die. We are a dying culture in this sense. I think the Christian culture, which counts over 2000 years, the European culture is dying, obviously. And I feel like celebrating the sunset with rose in the buttonhole, with pride and dignity. So there will be something new. That is why I’m always directed towards the future, my biggest inspiration is the future. It is kind of a mind game – how much I can predict and even influence the future?" Tanel about quality vs. influence "I try to achieve a certain level of quality that would still be considered precious in 10 years time, regardless of the actual material value. In my opinion, what makes you stop feeling related to the old work is superficiality, influences of which you were unware at the time, but you see them when you look back." Tanel about style "Few years ago I got this idea, that I would really like to get rid of "the style". It bothers me that in contemporary jewellery field almost everyone works in series. I find this notion very artificial, almost like in fashion business. Often the pressure comes from the galleries. It’s about becoming known and remembered for a certain style that is becoming a trademark, a product. So, in my work, I really want to be able to make U-turns (from fashion to installation, from photo to design, from delicate organic carvings to huge mathematical constructions), and a viewer would not be able to guess that the same person made them. I find that very intriguing. Galleries are the System. You have to comply with expectations, but I do not work like that. I do not like linear thinking. Isn’t it most boring if you can see all the intentions of the creator? I’m distancing myself from the notion of "constructing" the work. It is similar to the idea of working in series. Loads of conceptual art in general ends up in some sort of "construction". And it is not convincing. It is a result of a certain way of thinking. I feel that my approach is much more intuitive, but the work itself remains conceptual. The concept is a selfpreparation, it`s about trusting my own body and my ideas, but the thing is, they are still only fragments, until the work is done, somehow. And then I just look back and see the whole story coming together with all it`s significance and still open ends. I feel like it all should be here before. It might sound a bit creepy, but aren’t artists just mediators? All things are already here as ideas, but artist’s role is just to release them into the physical world. It works subconsciously and quite often my work is built this way. It’s a result of freedom I give myself. Often I don’t know what is behind certain pieces. There is a lot of switching between scales, materials, technologies, etc. What I feel is a great urge, high pressure inside. Human beings, art pieces and diamonds are formed in their inner pressure and heat. So I am just digging and digging deep… It’s a huge process, like a river and I’m in this river and I just follow my instincts. I don’t need any mediation to get myself to certain a point. I’m all the time at that exploding point! (laughing) I’m constantly there! It’s the only way I know."

And yes, we always wanted to know about the mysterious cosmic dust and how it ends up covering his pieces in gentle gradients colour – he smiled and showed us a tea strainer…

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Bonajo

On Value, Market Economy and the Shape of Memory Performance/Installation 2011 Interactions in capitalism often appear quite different from what they really are. This project looks into an alternative economic structure by addressing the aspect of giving material goods away without explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards as a substitute for market or trade economy. Contrary to popular conception, there is no real evidence that societies relied primarily on trade before using money for commerce. Instead, nonmonetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics. When trade did in fact occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or would-be enemies. This project is an invitation to reflect upon how we define value. People no longer see the human cooperation behind the market, which makes supply and demand possible. Human evaluations have their origin in the ability of sentient living organisms to prioritize and weigh up behaviors consciously according to self-chosen options; if they value or cherish something, that should be in the first instance a subjective appreciation. When a system becomes impure, in this case the trading values of things, they seem to gain an independent, objectified power over us. The relationships between things shape and even dominate the relationships between people on a larger economic scale – to the extent that they must constantly adjust – consciously or unconsciously – to the changing value proportions between things over which they don’t have any control anymore. This system can only be alternated by re-defining the value of things and adjusting the ritual of exchange. In this show I collected 86 things of various nature, of value to me and re-distributed them into a system where the effects of a certain act are not to be forecasted by logic. The system works as a method and can be applied by anyone. The objects displayed in my case were often intercoms to a memory, indicating special events in my life. It plays with the aspects of found objects after someone’s physical disappearance through for example death. In this way the exhibition also functions as a construction and deconstruction of a personal life and the symbols that it is portrayed by. In order to divert from the art object fetishism and the market value of the (art)product, the show was made in order to disappear during the course of the exhibition. The objects on display in the exhibition, varying between objects with personal histories, photographs, gifts and art objects, were to be taken by the audience as a gift (for free) signed by the artist. On the first day 69 objects had vanished. The exhibition vanished completely during its time on display.

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1 — Heart Bracelet, Broken. Gift from best friend. 2 — De Schone Man en de Vieze Vrouw Zonnen samen in de Regen, Stone, 2005. 3 — Little Droppings, Plastic bag filled with leaves. Unknown source. 4 — Feeling, Yellow plastic string. 5 — ‘Stone’ 6 — Greenland, Hairs from deceased polar bear.


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7 —Thank You’s, Gift. Sparkling three-dollar sign ring. 8 — Topographer, Nipple clamp. Used twice. 9 — Against Endings, Silver heart charm. Broken.

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We are closer to having than to being. Objects represent fragments of the world that surrounds us. They define the boundaries of a place we can not leave. In which the objects own us as much as we own them. And yet we care so little for the lives of things. We are such poor neighbors to the things that surround us, locking them up in boxes and subjecting them to our narratives, the fictions and dreams we weave around our past. The objects never had the ambition to become icons. In an ethnographic museum, among a jumble of objects from distant sources was a show on Polynesian artifacts. A text explained that within Polynesian cultures your richness is defined by what you can give away instead of what you own. The more you give away the more valuable become the things that stay behind.

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1 — Select 86 objects that you have kept for over 10 years and that you are attached too, but you do not really need. 2 — Catalogue all of the items. 3 — Give them away.


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10 — Gift For Myself, Fake golden necklace inscribed with 'I love you'. 11 – Pro-endings Plastic heart. Gift from friend.

12 ­— Mini Bible, Gift from first soul mate. No personal contact. Facebook friends. 13 — Parents Houses, Picture taken for pen

friend in China. Never sent. 14 — Conquered and Recorded, Undeveloped film roll. Content unknown.

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15 — Ghosts in Machines, Olympus audio recorder. 16 — Disasters of Peace, Chocolate cigarettes called Wind.


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"Each of us is merely one human being, merely an experiment, a way station. But each of us should be on the way toward perfection, should be striving to reach the center, not the periphery." Hermann Hesse, Das Glasperlenspiel Photography by Severafrahm 40


Previous page: Rings by Jantje Fleischhut Left page: Antique pearl necklace Right page: Necklace by Sayaka Yamamoto


Previous page: Earring by Felix Lindner Left page: from left to right, Antique bracelet Ring by Stefan Heuser Right page: Candle wax bracelet by Adrianna Wallis


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AVERAGELY UNIQUE Lin Cheung

Interview by Patrick Aaron Decker & Current Obsession

The work of jewellery artist extraordinaire Lin Cheung (UK, 1971) — senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins in London and known for her design of the 2012 Paralympic medal — is shaped around the ever different reading of everyday jewellery. Lin’s story could have been the nostalgic tale of jewellery in its most archetypical form — if it wasn’t for the multifaceted artist herself. Instead, Cheung’s words can guide us through the narrative of contemporary jewellery, sharpening our notions of material/concept /form through her personal motivation to keep on making. Her work enriches the language of jewellery by constantly supplying it with new verbs and proverbs. When was the last time jewellery made you think about being uniquely average or averagely unique? 48


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"Inside every piece of contemporary jewellery can be found the DNA of its archetypal ancestor."

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C.O. Do you think there is a reason we always turn to the iconic forms of jewellery?

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L.C. I use archetypal jewellery forms in my work as a basic language with which to build a conversation about jewellery. By borrowing and referencing the familiar shapes of lockets, rings and necklaces, I am priming the pieces ready to receive an idea, a≈thought, an observation. They are visual cues indicating I am commenting on something I’ve noticed about jewellery – the subject of jewellery and the possibilities that surround the jewel – and not the jewel itself. These conventional forms were rejected by the radical New Jewellery movement of  the 70s and 80s in favour of more expressive and experimental forms of jewellery. Recently, they have crept back into play and not without the blessing of some of the key exponents of the New Jewellery movement. A new generation of makers are reevaluating and repositioning these iconic forms at the core of their work from which to build their ideas. Inside every piece of contemporary jewellery can be found the DNA of its archetypal ancestor. A self-referential ‘jewellery language’ is developing and as a result is perhaps less concerned about what jewellery is, but exploring instead what is it doing, where is it, what is it saying, who does it belong to and why. These forms are alluring because they seem like the ‘beginnings of jewellery’, starting points devoid of any apparent design, year of manufacture or makers marks and the essence of them have not changed since humans first started to wear objects of significance. They represent an almost perfectly a fascination I have with the basic principle of  a jewellery object: a blank foundation upon which I can express ideas confidently – unhindered by unnecessary concerns of colour and material choices, considerations of  scale and aesthetics that all serve to divert attention elsewhere, somewhere I do not intend the idea to go. I feel if I stray too far from the language of these forms, I risk losing the point I’m making about jewellery. These ubiquitous forms do have further uses: everyone recognizes them as jewellery. Whether expert or novice, everyone is welcome to form an opinion, to join in on an ongoing conversation about jewellery. In fact, individual experiences of these forms of jewellery, however limited, are essential in the interpretation of some of the work.

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C.O. Can you talk about the trinity of concept/ form/material in the development of your work? How do these precede each other? Your work is refined to the point where the concept meets the chosen form and they come together in the "perfect" material in order to communicate something you envisioned — the reading of the piece is very precise — no mistake could be made. The meeting point of these three (concept /form /material) is where your jewellery resides.

C.O. Completeness is obviously an important part of your work. In the later works you search for a completion of the possibility, becoming almost obsessive in a peculiar way. Does it have to do with perfectionism? 24 carats of gold, Wedding rings for the average man and woman – both these works demonstrate every single variation of a universal idea.

L.C. An interesting aspect of jewellery – and here, I am really talking about the jewellery that is out there in the world, being bought and worn on a daily basis, untouchable by the jewellery artist or contemporary maker – is that on the surface of it the forms are not that remarkable, boring even. You could argue that a ring from one high street store is more or less the same as a ring in any other store. Even so, if you ask two different people that have bought the same piece, you get two different stories. Knowing that a jewellery object is not unique, mass produced in fact, doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of it or the trust in it becoming special to the people that buy and wear it. The circumstances that surround choice and choosing, the means of purchase or acquisition, the timing, the place of exchange, the ritual of gifting can all influence and define that object, giving it its distinct meaning and value. The objects are unique simply because we are unique. This is a very powerful concept for any object to behold and even more so if we all uphold it. This hidden narrative is essential in driving my imagination and this is what I try to express in the pieces I make. Almost every piece starts with an idea, then form, then material, in that order and it rarely gets reshuffled. I find it hard to make without a reason to. I can of course, always find a reason to make; it is the good ones that often elude me!

L.C. I do like being thorough and consequently, I often revisit ideas. Because I am too easily driven by ideas and tend to have lots of them, I try to make it a rule not to turn over too many but instead I try to refine, perfect and reiterate ongoing concerns. I know there is not always one answer and in making further iterations, I can say things slightly differently, in another tone, from another perspective. When I think about something long enough, there always are more possibilities not less. The more I reduce and distill, the more nuanced an idea becomes and this subtlety is important to explore especially if something is hard to say or pin point. Wedding rings for the average man and woman (UK size) is a recent example in a long line of works that  continually explores ideas around something being 'uniquely average' or 'averagely unique'. In this example it comments on two objects that on the one hand are expected to fulfill their role as wholly unique items for a bride and groom but ironically because of their 'average' size, are produced in an abundance to facilitate this.

24 carats of gold 2012

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"Jewellery is not for something; it is for and of someone."

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C.O. In discussing jewellery we are also talking about objects imbued with meaning. We carry these things around with us, they are gifts from loved ones; they are relics of our family past, soon to be passed onto the future. What is it that jewellery possesses to become such objects? e v i e

Wedding rings for the average men and women 2011

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L.C. Jewellery more than any other object I can think of, is the closest example of something that represents both a person’s identity and their soul and not surprisingly we associate jewellery objects easily to a person, real or imagined. Jewellery is not for something; it is for and of someone. Firstly, there is no mistaking jewellery’s corporeal relationship to a person; a hole for a finger – a particular finger and not any finger; a chain only makes sense as it becomes a necklace around a neck; the pin of an earring is intimately hidden within the body and silver has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal and warms itself instantly to body temperature against the skin. We can recognize someone through their jewellery as easily as we recognize their gait, their voice, their hairstyle, it becomes part of them; the person and the jewellery are inextricable. Secondly, jewellery is innocent and it is the consummate, blank object that exists without prejudice, bias or function so as to be able to accommodate all manner of significance and meaning we can, at will, bestow on it. This is its function and because it is not judged on how well or how effectively it performs this role, there is no need to doubt it. To do so would only undermine our fundamental human need for a repository of uncertainty for memories, for beliefs, for hopes and for all things intangible, esoteric, aspirational, unsubstantiated and unscientific. Jewellery is innocent because it can accommodate any number of meanings, be owned and changed by any number of wearers. Meaning it seems, can be wrung out of a piece of jewellery as easily and as readily as it can absorb it. In the face of its innocence, we exert our will over it and become its corruptors, but we are also bound as its benefactors and carers; submissive to its inscrutability through fear of losing its accommodating nature. To err is human, to forgive, is divine as the proverb goes. Perhaps jewellery, the concept of it at least, exists to remind us that we all make mistakes. Museums are full of  examples of human endeavor, great achievements, advancement of knowledge but also of uncertainty, of possibility, of invention and individual free will and I often think jewellery encompasses this aspect of our behaviour very succinctly. Perhaps its small size proportionately represents in the grand scheme of things, that tiny seed of doubt we all understand must exist. It reminds us it is OK 'not to know for sure' or 'one can change one's mind.' Few things are designed to accommodate this feature of humanity and in my mind, jewellery exists as one of them.


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María

"I remember once I connected the trees in a park with a thread to make the space between them evident; another time I measured the facades of several buildings and then unrolled these different dimensions of threads over me, making the relationship between the body and the dimension of architecture more physical." — María Aparicio Puentes (Santiago de Chile, 1981)

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Interview with Kai Williams & Chen Chen

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further then everyone else. It is a section about obsession with the future and here we invite people who, in our opinion, introduce a new thinking, new aesthetics, materials and production approaches.

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A title inspired by the story of Howard Hughes and the final scene of The Aviator movie, in which the main character countlessly repeats the same line — "The way of the future": someone who appears to be stuck in the future, seeing far

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We interviewed Brooklyn-based product design duo Chen & Williams. Their partnership began in spring of 2011 and for almost a year they have been spotted creating psychedelic coasters and jewellery through slicing studio junk mixed with resin, assembling weapons of opportunity inspired by prison, casting sculptural bookends and waterjet-cutting sleek bracelets out of Blue Bahia granite and marble…

KAI WILLIAMS

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CHEN CHEN

What is your first memory of the future? When do you remember the first time thinking about the future?

Kids, especially boys, are shown a number of different versions of the future from a young age. I particularly was brought up on Back to the Future and became heavily interested in science fiction books all generally set in some period in the future. Science fiction especially what they call "hard science fiction" poses a lot of problems that are inherently about object design.

I don’t think it is possible to go that far back in your mind to a specific point of your childhood in a reliable way. However, looking back on it, there is a specific day where I actually traveled through time, 60 years into the future. I moved from China to the United States in 1991, before that my food and my bathwater were heated on a coal stove and I had only been in a car once. However, I think the more traditional answer you were perhaps envisioning would be something about the influence of science fiction on the formation of my aesthetic. I think a large portion of boys begin their artistic interests in comic books and cartoons like Robotech or Voltron. I was no different. It’s a very specific way to learn how to draw when you are creating very technically influenced drawings on a purely aesthetic basis, only learning later on where the forms you grew up drawing were derived from (for example pistons or motors).

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Chaos + Order = Polarity Your individual work is very different: Chen is experimenting with expanding foam + spandex and creating sculptural pieces, where the functionality is not a priority. Kai is creating very clean woodwork, sharp-edged CNC carved pieces. Together you produce a new aesthetic that no single person can contain. Can you comment on how you see the future and your collaboration?

I think we both share a love of materials and a devilish impulse. We have differing aesthetics, but I think a team with similar aesthetics would be poor designers. There has to be some fight to get something interesting. In collaboration one person has to lead, the other complements and then they need take turns.

The reason our collaboration works is that no matter the aesthetic, we are true to the materials and the process. Our design is in the process. Kai’s CNC stools are designed specifically to maximize the number of components one sheet of plywood can yield. It’s about efficiency. My Swell vases are also about efficiency. They are made by taking a netted spandex bag and spraying foam into it. A simple process that takes one minute but yields an extremely complex form.

What are the aesthetics of the future? The "styles" are a lie. Style is a unity of principle animating all the work of an epoch, the result of a state of mind, which has its own special character. Our own epoch is determining, day by day, Its own style. Our eyes, unhappily, are unable yet to discern it. — Le Corbusier.

Whatever the era, good design is true to the process and is not frivolous. Form follows process.

The aesthetics of the future are a lie. Design for the present and any stylistic generalizations come in hindsight.

What are the tools and means of the future? When those words "tools and means of the future" come up, I think most people will think of rapid prototyping, CNC milling, waterjet cutting and the like. Those production methods will become more ubiquitous in the near future but the core technology has been around for decades. The only change is that all these methods have become cheaper and are just now entering the public consciousness.

Practically we are very low-tech designers. We were taking apart an airplane seat recently and were blown away by the tight mechanics and aluminum extrusions and stamping. I’m guessing that the chair was built 20 years ago from a general design that is over 50 years old. It is still from a level design technology that is beyond our reach.

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I don’t dare make predictions, I don’t think anyone has that kind of foresight. I remember when I was in school a futurist was invited to lecture. He told us that in 3-5 years all packaging and t-shirts would have motion graphics. He didn’t say a thing about touchscreen technology.

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Openness to change. You have to be willing to give up the past to move into the future. I’m giving up a CNC router so that the space can grow into something else.*

This partnership is a big investment.

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* In 2008 Kai Williams bought a 27,000-pound CNC machine he believed to be the largest in Brooklyn. The machine required data to be run through three different computers, each of them at least 15 years old.

1. Shanks, signed and numbered edition of 30 2. Echo Bracelet, Machined Corian 2012 3. Metaphoric Rock bookend 4. Swell vase 5. WHITE: Stone Age Carrera Bangle 2011, waterjet cut, White Carrara marble BLUE: Stone Age Bahia Bangle 2011, waterjet cut Blue Bahia granite


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These substances expand several times their original volume, while remaining extremely light and stress resistant.

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Marjan van Aubel (Netherlands, 1985) is a designer with an inquisitive, almost scientific perspective. She graduated in 2012 from the Design Products course at the Royal College of Art and is currently based in London.

CURRENT OBSESSION

MARJAN VAN AUBEL

You’ve mentioned that you are coming from a family of chemists. Can you tell a bit more about that?

Both my dad and my sister are chemists and there was always a fascination in scientific fields from my side too. For example, I followed courses at the university of Amsterdam in Quantum Physics. It is very interesting to learn different methods and ways of doing things, which are borrowed from other professions; for example how to separate colours with chromatography. These things I learned at home and they come from chemistry.

When did the fascination with material exploration begin?

It happened during my studies at Design LAB at the Rietveld Academy. I did an exchange project with Ecole Boulle in Paris on the use of ornaments. Ecole Boulle is very much about crafts and making. Back in Amsterdam I applied this way of thinking into crafting new materials. I created new materials that emphasized the ornament and its use.

Your work is based more on the quality of the material then on the shape. The shapes are almost left to chance, due to the enormous expansion of the material. Do you like this freedom that the material gives you form-wise or do you try to control it more?

Yes, I am very much enjoying this experimental boundary between controlling the material while also letting it behave freely. There should be a balance and a good mix of both.

As both wood and china are 'foam', it seems the research is targeting the expansion of the material. Why? Is it about the optimization of the potential?

In the case of foamed wood it was about optimization of the potential. You see, by this discovery I was able to create 7 tables out of one table. I planed the table down to woodchips and by doing this I was able to increase the volume of the table when I recast it. By mistake bio resin started a foaming reaction when I added water, so then I suddenly could increase the volume by 7 times. In the case of Foam China it was not about optimization. Having foamed porcelain was a completely new use of porcelain. Porcelain is never lightweight and it requires a entirely other way of producing. This is still very interesting to discover and to work on!

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Currently Obsessed With

S The Schmuck phenomenon is gaining momentum with each year for 65 years and it’s no news that for a week in early March the city of Munich gets in a spotlight of the international contemporary jewellery scene, swarming with makers, lovers, owners, enthusiasts and followers of all kinds. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of Schmuck and the "trend ripples" it creates each year within the field. That is precisely the reason why we chose Schmuck 2013 as our main feature. Featuring: Karl Fritsch, Alexander Blank, Kinga Zobel, Manon van Kouswijk 64


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Obsession

The following questions were answered on the morning of January 21st at an Internet café while Mr. Fritsch was on holiday. I point this out only to emphasize the refreshing straightforwardness of the answers to follow. His responses are emotional yet not emotionally complicated, almost childlike, without being one bit childish. Karl knows what he wants and he knows what he likes, like a little kid at playtime, building blocks in hand. The way a kid gets swept up with action instead of theory, or simply doing instead of rationalizing, Karl’s tendencies as a maker and thus his vast array of fingerly delights, echo this youthful spontaneity. Whether standing there alone or among the company of many others, every one of Karl Fritsch’s rings is able to speak for itself, without a drop fuss, just like the words of their maker. NO FUSS, Karl Fritsch Interview by Kellie Riggs

Ring, silver, copper brass bronze 2012 Ring, silver, brass, bronze, diamond, rubies, tanzanite, garnet, citrin 2012

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Your output is quite impressive; how do you address the notion of the singular object in your work?

Your devotion to jewellery, the ring in particular, is clearly decipherable. Would you like to talk about why your visual commitment is so strong?

Most of the time they speak the same language, but sometimes they may speak something else, and sometimes they don´t talk at all; sometimes I understand them, sometimes not, sometimes they are singing, sometimes they scream, sometimes they talk about love, sometimes they talk about sausages, sometimes they gurgle sometimes they cough… No, but each one needs to exist.

If you were to highlight one piece we might soon see on exhibition, which is it and what would you like to say about it ?

At the moment it is a big ring that I carved out of a rock that I found on the South Coast, but I might I have a new favorite when I return to my workshop in two days and work on some other pieces. And there are some rings where I work on carving some chunks of metal...

k

Please come and see, I don’t know yet what it will be at Biro, I am still working on it and there is always a bit of an ambition to show something new on the March -in-Munich-schmuck-stage… And in the residence with Gerd and Robert, it is always exciting to see what comes together on the blue round, when the work communicates with pieces from other artists. There will certainly be some pieces influenced by living in New Zealand…

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You are part of a couple of Schmuck’s events this year, including the 6th rendition of Returning to the Jewel is a Return from Exile, again with Robert Baines and Gerd Rothman; as well as an exhibition called, What I Do For You, at Galerie Biro. What exactly will you be doing for us?

u

Oh, there are lots of conversations, and that is the great thing about Ring, silver, brass, bronze, jewellery, that they can be very intimate and diamond, rubies, tanzanite, garnet, citrin, 2012 loving and cruel and universal all at the same time. And the person who engages with them can add their own stories; I like when the rings are open for interpretation.

m

I think I am very lucky that I found a medium that suits me so much. I love the small scale, I like working with fire and a hammer and other tools, I like that there is a variety of resistance from whatever material I work with, and that there is a history I can work with. I like that ideally it lives very close with somebody and will have a very different life once it is out there in the world; that is jewellery.

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What type of conversations do you want to be a part of? Are they intimate, based on the locality of where the work might live, or perhaps part of something bigger?

Rings are always looking for company, otherwise they are not complete. Ultimately they should end up on a finger, but if there are not enough fingers near, they are happy to have the company of other rings or to interact with other environments.

h

Even when seeing ten pieces at a time, your work is able to transcend a potential redundancy… is this a challenge you’re conscious of?

KARL FRITSCH

c

Is it fair to say that each of your pieces speaks the same language, or even saying the same thing, but with different voices, different tonalities?

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KELLIE RIGGS - CURRENT OBSESSION


Current

Obsession

Last year’s Schmuck darling has recently come out with a new body of work. Lucky for us, he has allowed Current Obsession to unveil an exclusive sneak peak… a pleasing aperitivo if you will, one that is sure to wet the appetite for what’s to be seen during this year’s Schmuck week. The typically tightlipped artist has left us with clues about his creative processes as well as his own thoughts on secrecy and identity, which, quite frankly, should leave you hungry for more. Show & Tell with Alexander Blank Interview by Kellie Riggs KELLIE RIGGS - CURRENT OBSESSION

ALEXANDER BLANK

Let’s talk about secrets. In past statements, you’ve written about a necessary secretive nature an artist is entitled to, which has recently reminded me of sociologist, Georg Simmel, when he said that "adornment has, in fact, a societal significance with a structure analogous to that of secrecy itself." How might you identify with this statement, or how might your new body of work?

I´d definitely agree from a wearer’s point of view. It is always a mystery of how, who, and why someone wears a certain jewellery piece...and it stays a secret for the maker and others until it is revealed. You can’t look inside a person! From a maker’s point of view I like secrets and I’d be happy if the work would speak for itself, rather than others or myself. I never enjoyed talking about my so-called projects and this and that, what I am doing and why, blah blah..! But nowadays it is not possible to "not" talk about your work and that is maybe why there are so many Wikipedia-based statements around, because everyone has to give’em all the time. But now I just know a bit better when to speak clearly and when to give the pieces some space of their own. In my new work secrecy probably might have its part. The pieces imply some kind of a twilight area between two familiar images, portraits and comics, yet they do not reveal a direct connection.

"Me and my Mask"

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I’d say both! I have my own ideas and reasons, why I start with a new concept and I try to have them inside the work, at least that I can see them in it. But during the work process there is a lot of time to think left to right,

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Are you trying to say something secretive about yourself in these new works, or rather trying to reach out to people with something specific they want to reveal about themselves?

m

I’d say not only the cameo, but jewellery in general. But figurative pieces definitely pretend to have an easy way to access meaning. It offers that by showing you something that you might already have a relationship with. It instantly sparks something in your mind that you already might know, but then you start to think about it more, and then there is this twist and one starts to realize what they do not know everything about it and so on.

h

Simmel also spoke about an interweaving of the external and internal aspects of the forms of adornment, with the meaning to "single the personality out, to emphasize it as outstanding in some sense…" The cameo in this sense is a powerful manifestation of this, don’t you think?

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Jewellery, if you do it, do it with dash, youth gone wild, bad to the bone, conquer a world, not a cowboy nor a hippy... I mean one could bend down anything to a historic reference. But you are right that here it is more obvious of course than in other pieces of mine. I wanted to work in a bold relief for some time and thought about cameo. I was very thankful that it was not used much in contemporary ways, so it became interesting for me to try it out. The historic use is obvious. The portraits normally represented a person who contained power or an ideal character in society. It was also used as a beautiful object/accessory only, without any specific relationship towards the person shown on the cameo and of course used for signet rings, on medals and coins or silverware, maybe as a kind of label. The outlines or the profile of the faces in my pieces are more or less characters/ celebrities of daily life. But the significant faces are scratched away, so they loose their identity and identifiability. Instead, as you said, comic attributes start to sprawl and sprout like mushrooms and take over the whole expression. I am not sure if the spores of those funghi were already in the faces and lived in a symbiotic way or if they just took over the host... Like all of my pieces, they have a personal background or they emerge from my own interests but I´d like to give them some time and space to start and live on their own, that they can fall into place, without my statement straight away.

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As we don’t want to reveal too much, can you leave us with some key words with which your new work is synonymous? You’ve explained to us that your new body of work is linked to traditional cameo carvings – a much stronger reverence to jewellery’s past than your previous work - yet the faces have been scratched away and replaced with more comic attributes. The work could be perceived as more personal. Is that fair to say?


Current

Obsession

as well as different possible versions to read my work. And I have a degree of humility to my pieces as I said before, to leave my thoughts or myself a bit more secretive at the beginning. But of course not for too long. I will have to talk about it at the exhibition... I am always glad to hear other versions. I think then the real talking about work starts. In the spirit of secrecy, could you give us a little hint of what we will find at your exhibition, Kings of my Blues?

I would not like to say too much about the upcoming exhibition. It is not final yet in terms of what it is going to look like. But to give a hint, the last series of pieces were more or less characters and I started calling them friends or problem kids, but definitely not just pieces! So the title more or less shows a bit of the relationship between me and my pieces. I somehow have to take care of them or there are sleepless nights when they are in trouble. They are part of the ups and downs in my professionalism. (I am going to show my newest work and some of my older friends.)

Studio view in Munich I call Batcave

I did not expect it; I also did not want to go out to the fair that day. I just wanted to come to the Jewellery-GetTogether, but my girlfriend made me go, and of course it was a great surprise and I had a good night of celebrating. It was also very nice to share the moment with Despo Sophocleous, a good friend of mine, and Tore Svenson, a great colleague, who also won the same price. Since that time not much has changed, I still have to develop new work and keep myself busy. It is an honorable prize, nice to have, no reason to lift off the ground!

Tell us a bit about your win of Schmuck’s Herbert Hofmann prize last year, did you expect it and how did it feel? What’s it been like since?

Would you like to make a prediction of who will take the price this year? Who are you looking at, or who motives you to keep pushing your own work forward?

That is truly hard to say, because most jewellers (or pieces that make me ponder) that I would give the prize to were not even selected for the show and in my opinion they should be… So I’d like to leave it up to Fortuna to honor the next Schmuck Darling...

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71 Three new ones of the bench before they get the final surface

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SECRETS OF THE MAKINGS c

The work in progress images were shot during Alexander’s time teaching a Wintersession course at the Rhode Island School of Design in early 2013, where he worked only on the mid-stages of surface preparation. All the "dirty work" of the main carvings were done in Blank’s home studio in Munich, the studio in which he sometimes likes to call the Batcave. k

Alexander Blank’s new work is characterized by the hand carving of high-density foam normally used for rapid prototyping and CNC carvings for mass production. On the image with the three brooches on the workbench, pieces have been finished with a surface ready to be applied with colour. The colour will be mixed with graphite pigments and a special additive that makes the final surface more tactile or haptic.


Current

Obsession

Several hundreds of people came to MaximiliansForum in Munich last year to see the Schmuck-Show curated by Kinga Zobel. She chose a dynamic form of a live presentation to demonstrate more than 100 jewellery pieces. This year in addition to the Show, Kinga Zobel presents a Schmuck-Finder, a free catalogue. Kinga shared her thoughts about her goal, and told us what Schmuck-Show and Finder are all about. Jewellery on a catwalk Current Obsession

How did your interest with contemporary jewellery begin?

Tell us about the idea behind the Schmuck Show?

Kinga Zobel

For many years I’ve been working for Galerie Biró in Munich, which was founded 20 years ago by Olga Zobel, my mother. Actually, I have a different background. I worked for more than 7 years in an event agency before I professionally got involved with art jewellery. But, of course through the activities of Olga I have always been surrounded by it.

My very first idea was always to show the interaction between jewellery, wearer and observer. I have often heard sentences like: "How lucky you are, you can wear this nice necklace, I could never do so". My aim is to show to people that everyone can wear good jewellery. I would like to emphasize, that my aim is not to create a fashion show; my choice of professional models is a way to present jewellery on the body; to create emotions like jewellery should always do. With the Schmuck-Show 2012 I was offering the artists this service and giving the visitors an overview of the increasing number of exhibitions during Schmuck in Munich.

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Corresponding to the Schmuck Show I created the Schmuck Finder just as the logical advancement to the project from last year. The small booklet gives information about the artist and his or her exhibition, accompanied by a colour image of the presented piece; it also serves as a map guide trough the city. Together with the website www.schmuck-show.com the visitors have a perfect navigation tool for Schmuck.

With this new form of jewellery presentation I hope to reach young people, who might not get in touch with art jewellery by the conventional presentation in museums or galleries. Showing the pleasure of wearing jewellery is the best promotion!

I am very happy about everything being done to get people aware of art jewellery. I would only like to remind, that the most important goal of jewellery should always be to adorn and not to have an outstanding installation/presentation. I am convinced, that galleries are important; gallerists do the best networking throughout the year. The Schmuck-Show is a short event for a current benefit, but it cannot establish sustainable contacts, as needed for art.

Necklace by: Sana Svedestedt (Photography by Gerhard Knorr)

Necklace by: Mara Irsara (Photography by Gerhard Knorr)

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Necklace by: Lucie Houdkova (Photography by Gerhard Knorr)

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What do you think about these temporary events and publications as opposed to the galleries system of presenting the work?

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You mentioned the ultimate goal in creating the Schmuck Show is to involve more and different collectors/buyers into the scene of contemporary jewellery. Can you share your ideas on that subject?

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This year you are introducing a new Schmuck-Finder. Can you tell us a bit more about this initiative?


Current

Obsession

Manon van Kouswijk is an established Dutch jewellery artist, currently based in Melbourne, Australia.Within the confines of the FRAME project Galerie Ra will be hosting a presentation of a series of her porcelain necklaces Perles d'Artiste and Trophées and a collection of new porcelain brooches titled Ornamental Residue.FRAME is one of the special shows of the Handwerk & Design and will be located at the Munich Messegelände, Hall B1. Hanging around with Manon – We spoke with Manon about archetypes, the wish to do something she hasn't done before and things that brooches "do". CURRENT OBSESSION

MANON VAN KOUSWIJK

We've come to know you as a jewellery artist with an almost compulsive attraction to pearls and beaded necklaces. Do you see this as a genuine obsession or just an archetype you like to play with?

I have to admit it has become a bit compulsive, although I'd like to think I'm still the one who is "pulling the strings". When I was studying I struggled with the way I felt that contemporary jewellery practice was increasingly talking about the maker before addressing anything else. I was looking for a more universal starting point for my work, and trying to find a piece of jewellery that was the total opposite of everything we were taught in art school. That's how I started working with pearl necklaces. Over time this has developed into a big love of beaded necklaces, which is a bit like a relationship, really: it's hard work! (all the rest of the clichés apply to this form of relationship as well). I've made a lot of other works that were based on different archetypes; both jewellery and objects, but I always kept returning to the bead necklace. Whenever I work with a material or process that I haven't used before it usually results in a new version of that same thing. Of course this doesn't solve any problem, nor does it answer all my questions; I still don't know how much authorship jewellery needs, and I think if anything my work is an on-going process

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The image archive in the book is not a historical reference, and I have no didactic intentions with it at all. Most of the collected images I used in it are not literally jewellery related, they show the basic principle of the beaded necklace as I see it in all kinds of other things; from a supernova in the universe to the smallest particle of tangible matter. I've always collected images like these alongside making my necklaces and I was thinking of this collection in similar terms as Charles and Ray Eames' Powers of Ten project* but in the specific context of the beaded necklace.

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The process of collecting can often work both ways: the making of necklaces informs the search for images, and some of the images that I find subsequently inform the work. While thinking of making a book about this work, it made sense to give the images a place in it as well, not as an illustration of the work, or something the work needs because it wouldn't be able to stand on it's own two feet, but as a way to show another part of the working process in the context of a book.

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In your book 'Hanging Around', which reads as a glossary of the works you have made from 1995 till 2010, pieces are literally overlapped with your inspirations that often stem from artefacts you encounter all over the world. Why did you place them so closely together? Do you think people need to understand this 'historical' reference?

of moving back and forth between doing more and less, searching for a space somewhere between the general and the personal, a space that is mine but that can be used by others as well; between me as a maker and the jewel as an object that has a history and significance of its own, and has to offer a space for someone else to identify with it and to wear it as an extension of their personality.

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Another reason for making an artist's book rather than a catalogue of my work was because I had the desire for the publication to have a life outside of 'planet jewellery'. It was taken on by an international distributor for art books, which meant it ended up in places it wouldn't have reached if I'd only sold it within the contemporary jewellery context.

* Powers of Ten: short film by Charles & Ray Eames

k

Perles d'Artiste,2009 Porcelain/Pigment/Glaze Photography: Uta Eisenreich


Current

Obsession

The new work distinguishes itself from others by showing a very manual, almost 'prehistoric' approach. Is it a deeper investigation into these archetypes or rather a departure from it?

I see it as part of an on-going investigation, that started in this case with the wish to shape clay with my hands rather than casting or reproducing existing beads. My work often starts from a wish to do something I haven't done before and the real work is then to find a form that makes sense to my work and my specific interests, to discover something that does this in order to make it my own.

It is a repetitive and calculated action, in which you've set rules for yourself. A bead made with two fingers, three, or four. It reminds me of performance art objects of i.e. Bruce Nauman in which he - in a few calculated actions arrives at a mathematical unknown. Is it in these (obsessive) restrictions that you find a way of letting go?

This a quite a complex question; maybe the restrictions and rules are a way to almost let the material find it's own shape or form, rather than me dictating it... Maybe this is shifting the authorship of the work to a process that defines the outcome. The process is not really about letting go, I think; I always try lots of things of which the result is unknown. With this particular work though it just started as simple as that: I made these shapes using my fingers in a methodical way. Perhaps it sounds a bit silly, but at the same time they immediately made a lot of sense to me as beads, and it took me a long time to get them right in terms of size, proportions, making a series of colours that worked with the different shapes, without them looking like cheap stone necklaces, etc. I realise they look extremely "obvious" in one sense, but it wasn't easy to get them to look like that! Haha! That sounds really quite ridiculous, spending a lot of time and energy on making something look obvious, that's good. I do like the idea of working with limited means as well; I'm not someone who uses a lot of tools and equipment.

For Nauman it was the performative act of making itself and the 'economy of means' by which he tried to find a way to work without tools, just the human body and heat. Is it similar to how you approach the process?

Perles d'Artiste, 2009 Porcelain/Ceramic pencil /Glaze. Photography: Uta Eisenreich

The restrictions and rules, I think, are also ways of working out what to make and if to make anything at all; defining the working space. (As in what can I add to everything that's already been done). Moving in a limited space means you have to be inventive, consequently everything is possible, that can make it hard to do anything at all. Martin Creed talks about this as well: "If anything this work began as an attempt to make something, if not nothing. If that the problem was to attempt to establish, amongst other things, what material something could be, what shape something could be, what size something could be, how something could be constructed,

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But it’s also about your tactile impression?

how something could be situated, how something could be attached, how something could be positioned, how something could be displayed, how something could be portable, how something could be packaged, how something could be stored, how something could be certified, how something could be presented, how something could be for sale, what price something could be, and how many of something there could be, or should be, if any, if at all." (Martin Creed, 1992, on Work No. 74, a 2,5 cm cubic stack of Elastoplast tape)

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"First exhibited in 2010, the objects offer up to scrutiny little else than just that: a series of white (and then coloured) strung beads sporting a growing number of facets, arranged on the page (and in the gallery) as one would geometric models, from the simplest (a large lentil) to the more complex (an irregular decahedron). More than any other works in the book, they flaunt the systematic, the serial, in the face of whatever notion of artistic spontaneity we hold dear. Each necklace implies a ‘how to’ that frames the way it looks, and spells out its position in a series. Not only do we know exactly what to expect, but the gesture of making a bead is already a classification, a standard of measure: that bead is this gesture. There are several things

u

The imprint of my hands is an integral part of the work, and forms a contradiction; this very hand-made way of producing a generic piece of jewellery. Benjamin Lignel talks about this in an essay he wrote about my work, I quote from it as I can't articulate it better than he does:

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Trophées no.1-4 Bead segment from necklace one to four: 1 finger wide, 2 fingers wide, 3 fingers wide, 4 fingers wide, 2011 Porcelain/Ceramic pencil/Glaze Photography: Jeremy Dillon


Current

Obsession

at play in this redundant operation. To begin with, it shifts our attention away from the object as commodity, onto the performative act of making. Second of all, it slips a mirror between history and the maker. Gone the pretence of paying homage to the archetype: this is about listing the tools of one’s trade and drawing, one set of fingers at a time, a negative portrait of the maker’s hand. The result is a conflicted statement of authorship. At once ironic (any child could have done this) and nostalgic (this is, after all, the ultimate hand-made piece, all fingerprints and signatures), it means to plot, on either side of the same coin, the particular position of craft in the fine arts: singular and generic, authorial and derivative, spectacular and predictable." (Quote from The singular and the generic: portrait of the artist as a maker written by Benjamin Lignel for the occasion of an exhibition at Objectspace Auckland, New Zealand, February 2012). We would like to hear about the brooches as well from this point of view?

The brooches have also started from the wish to do something "new". I have rarely made brooches and have become increasingly interested in wearing them, so now I've reached the point of starting to produce them. I have been looking at archetypal brooch forms and motifs, and the things that brooches "do". These new pieces are process-based, like the necklaces, but in this case it is a making process that I cannot entirely control. Although I start from the same forms that I use to make them (a series of improvised moulds), they always come out slightly different. They are based on a developing sequence of forms that I cast in different colours and combinations of colours. So the making process is very essential in these pieces as well, but they don't literally have my fingerprints on them. I would prefer not to say too much more about this new work, I view it as a series I will continue to develop and I would like people to form their own ideas, instead of me dictating the reading of the work.

Can you tell us about the (type of) artist you had in mind when coming up with the title 'Perles d'Artiste' for your recent collection?

One thing that this title is loosely based on is Piero's Manzoni's artwork "Merde d'Artiste" - cans with the artist's own shit. I think this question has already been answered: its not a specific artist I'm referring to, it's the archetype of the artist (so that could also be me...).

Paul Derrez, Director Galerie Ra:"I am a great admirer of the work by Manon van Kouswijk, and eager to present it in Galerie Ra. Joining fairs makes it possible for Galerie Ra to reach a larger and broader audience. Several years ago Ra showed at Frame in Munich a large work by Manon as a vivid mural. Now Ra focuses again on Manon’s work, mainly necklaces, next to a selection of jewellery by other Ra-artists. To work with Manon van Kouswijk and to represent her is always a great pleasure."

Trophées no.1-4, 2011 Porcelain/Pigment/Glaze Photography: Jeremy Dillon Artist book; Hanging Around - the pearl chain principle, 2010 Manon van Kouswijk in a close collaboration with Uta Eisenreich (photography) & Esther de Vries (graphic design) Publisher: Uitgeverij Boek / Distribution: Idea Books ISBN/EAN: 978-90-804085-5-5 Photography of this image: Benjamin Lignel

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CURRENT OBSESSION MAGAZINE #1 ARCHETYPE issue  

CURRENT OBSESSION is a new biannual magazine discussing jewellery as a part of today’s visual culture. Searching for common subjects that co...

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