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A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE

A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE

 

It was that week of the year again…
The only week in the year when I iron my clothes and apply lipstick every morning. The week when I hardly get any sleep at night, experience consistent dehydration in the afternoons and become hoarse to speechless over the course of the day. The week when even I (who rarely ever drinks a drop of alcohol) am longing for a drink every evening. The week when Munich is invaded by the community of the contemporary jewellery world, without the people of Munich even noticing it.
The week before last was Munich Jewellery Week 2017. What a harmless title for this jam-packed abundance of everything to do with contemporary jewellery. I think Munich Jewellery War would be as appropriate, because you easily get the feeling that you need to fight your way through the week in order to simply persevere, no matter if you came to see or show or both. Or Munich Jewellery Walk, as there is definitely a lot of walking involved during these days. From one exhibition, artist talk, party event to the next all day, several days... Or Munich Jewellery Wow, because it is altogether an overwhelming experience, stimulating and exhausting simultaneously.

Last year I had only started writing the KARMA CHROMA- blog and gone into the MJW with the expectation of writing a rich synopsis of all I saw and heard, but the task was just too big for me. In the end, I wrote two articles about two artists whose shows I had visited during the week. Given that around 80 jewellery exhibitions had been on show and I had seen probably half of them, that is a bit meager of course, but I think I prefer it that way. This year, I had an exhibition with three colleagues myself and did not manage to see too much unfortunately. So, this year I will merely write about our project during the MJW 2017.

Our exhibition with the curious title “A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE” showed a large number of the latest jewellery pieces and artworks of other media of Attai Chen, Mielle Harvey, Barbara Schrobenhauser and me in the two rooms of the “Verein für Originalradierung München” (an association, which usually is specialized in showing etching art). Barbara, Attai and I studied together almost the whole time in the Munich jewellery class at the ADBK and have been very good friends and colleagues ever since with a lively exchange. Attai Chen and I have been a couple for the last nine years, during which our work has been profoundly influenced and inspired by each other. Mielle is from an earlier generation of Künzli graduates, though I have felt connected with her work for a long time as she was one of my idols when I began to explore art jewellery. She is also a lovely person, so it was both an honour and a pleasure to make this exhibition project with her. The four of us felt that our work was strongly connected in some ways, but was also different enough to create an interesting diverse exhibition together. It wasn’t a curated exhibition though, so we needed to elaborate a concept for our show.

An extract of our exhibition text reads:

“The exhibition, ‘A BARBARIAN, A TITLE & A MIRACLE’ is designed like a collage, created from the collision of diverging and intersecting nuggets of meaning. A group show is a kind of assemblage of different artistic positions, joined temporarily to create a new whole. To this end, we take on the exhibition like a game of scrabble, juxtaposing our individual bodies of work to expose new meanings.”

The idea of making a collage, which created new perspectives and meanings for our work, was the core of the concept when we developed the title, the invitation card and the presentation of the work. For our strange title, we wrote down our four first names on paper, cut the letters apart and played a scrabble game with them until we found a sequence of words, we liked. In the process, many even odder titles came up, but we liked “A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE” the best. It could be the title of a poetic story or the beginning of a joke...

For the presentation of the work, we built four long tables assembled from many boards of different colour, material and thickness. We collected pieces of old furniture from different eras and other disregarded boards for several months to have enough interesting material at hand. We all liked this idea also for ecological reasons. It was agreed that in the past we’d experienced that too much waste is created for exhibitions which are only on display for a few days, so we wanted to try to produce as little new waste as possible for this project.
Building the tables went astonishingly fast, but laying out the jewellery pieces took more time than anticipated. For two full days, we were trying different variations. We felt that finding the right way to place the pieces on the patchwork tables was the key to making the show work. The “new nuggets of meaning” became our motto and a running joke during this phase. It was important for us to not only lay pieces next to each other by chance, but to choose them very carefully in order to find interesting partners and relevant groups. In the end, I think we succeeded very well. One visitor even liked one particular “new nugget of meaning” so much, she said, that the two pieces belonged to each other and purchased them together.

Attai Chen (born 1979 in Jerusalem, Israel) showed his new paper jewellery series Matter of Perspective, which addresses the theme of multiple perspectives and how we perceive our surroundings. The explosive disorder of his previous paper series is now bundled and tamed in oval shapes. The way he cuts the paper has also changed quite a bit. Attai is building countless little flat projections of cardboard, which he merges into complex abstract views. Even though Attai was mainly inspired by the Pre-Renaissance perception of space and perspective, for me they are like peepholes to futuristic apocalyptic cityscapes. The backs of the pieces are made with an intricate technique of layering and sanding graphite dust to smooth and slightly shiny surfaces.

Barbara Schrobenhauser (born 1979 in Traunstein, Germany) also exhibited totally new works: There were three freshly finished brooches, where Barbara explored the possibilities of creating a three-dimensional shape only by knotting a string. Like often with Barbara’s pieces, the viewer can only fully understand her works by touching them and so this exhibition was a great opportunity to do so. Barbara showed also several pendants and necklaces made of string and wooden handles. The strings were woven together elaborately to close the handles’ open shape and were hung into each other like the links of a chain. What I enjoyed about these pieces was the playful moment when people tried them on. Even though Barbara had actually planned them to be worn in a particular way, the visitors found different ways to wear them.

Mielle Harvey (born in 1971 in New York, USA), presented pendants, necklaces and brooches from two series: Silver Scenes and Moments of Sky. The delicate pieces, which she created in versatile techniques like painting, drawing and patinating silver, appear like windows that capture a glimpse of a fleeting moment. A passing butterfly or bird, a fluffy cloud or a view of a beautiful landscape, they all represent precious moments, which we too often overlook. I especially fell in love with one piece titled Cameo III, which was made by the lost wax casting technique. It shows a detail of a birch tree forest in an oval frame. At least this is my interpretation of this pendant, because it is almost abstract.

And I (Carina Shoshtary, born 1979 in Augsburg, Germany), showed most of my new pieces from the last 1 ½ years, which included necklaces, brooches and earrings. My idea was to create ceremonial jewellery for a fictitious tribe of hunter gatherers. The most characteristic material is still the graffiti paint, but now involves other found materials into my work, e.g. driftwood, seeds and shells etc. My colour emphasis shifted towards the colour red, which is truly fascinating for me at the moment. Associations to the body are always present. Some pieces contain shapes with bright red openings which invite the viewer to have a look inside the “organism”. One lady said that the pieces appear very seductive for her, but that there is also something unsettling about them. I liked that; it’s exactly the kind of ambivalence that I am looking for.

In our second smaller room, the four of us each exhibited other artworks.
Attai presented one of his new paper wall sculptures, which are a big replica of the brooches of his Compounding Fractions -series. A lot of people who knew his jewellery were amazed at how well he transported the details and the overall impression of the jewellery into a much bigger scale.
Barbara had four of her paper vessels in the second room. The pieces, which are created with incredibly complicated and time-intense techniques, were quite astonishing for the visitors, as many thought at first that they were made of stone and marble. Also, here people needed to touch and feel the paper to comprehend the objects.

Mielle, who is never working on a theme only in the medium of jewellery, but is always simultaneously drawing and painting, showed a couple of drawings on a big wall. The themes of her jewellery pieces were resumed here and gave people a wider insight into her creative work.
I showed four large-scale photographs of my beautiful sister in law wearing my jewellery pieces. The photographs are part of my second collaboration with Munich based photographer, Laurens Grigoleit, who in my eyes is a master of light. Some people even asked me if they were painted images. I will surely write more about this collaboration on the blog soon.

Altogether we were really happy with our exhibition. We want to thank everybody who came during this week, we really met many wonderful people! We also want to thank the "Radierverein" to rent us their beautiful rooms for this week!

Our special thanks goes to Katrin Eitner and the “Förderverein zum Aufbau einer Juliane Noack Künstlerförderung” for supporting this exhibition with a grant of 700 €. Our project was the second they funded, but there are more to come. So please follow up the news on their website!

And finally, we want to thank Tereza Novotna, who a few months ago started an internship with Attai and since then has become an irreplaceable force in many ways for all of us (e.g. when none of us had the energy anymore, she jumped in and made us this incredibly clever and handsome exhibition plan with the info about all the pieces): You are amazing, Tereza!!! Ty jsi nejlepší! Milujeme tě a rozhodně bychom tě adoptovali, kdyby nám to tvoje rodiče dovolili. Objímáme tě.

Images:
1Tereza Novotna: Exhibition plan for A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE
2/3 Building of the exhibition A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE, Photos: Carina Shoshtary/ Attai Chen
4-10 A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE, Munich, 2017; Photos: Carina Shoshtary
11 Attai Chen: Untitled; Necklace, 2017; Paper, paint, silver, wood, graphite; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
12 Barbara Schrobenhauser:  Confused and Concentrated; Brooch. 2017; Cotton, string, stainless steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
13 Barbara Schrobenhauser:  Vom Tragen und Halten II; Neckpiece2017; Wooden handels, woven string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
14 Mielle Harvey: Moments of Sky Necklace; Necklace, 2016; Sterling silver, oil paint, silk cord; Photo: Mielle Harvey
15 Mielle Harvey: Cameo I, Pendant, 2017; Lost wax cast sterling silver, patina, oil paint, silk cord; Photo: Mielle Harvey
16 Carina Shoshtary: Over the Rainbow; Necklace, 2016; Graffiti, silver; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
17 Carina Shoshtary: Carnivore 3; Necklace, 2017; Graffiti, glass, silver; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
18-24 A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE, Munich, 2017; Photos: Carina Shoshtary, Tereza Novotna

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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (3/5): Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova

For her diploma show titled … I was here, Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova darkened a small room, which you entered though a black curtain. The only sources of light in the room were a black light hanging in the middle of the room and a strip of a LED light attached under her pieces, which were hung on one wall. On the opposite wall, there were illuminating handwritten letters, which said “I was here”. When I came into the room, my eyes needed a bit of time to adjust to the darkness before I could start to explore Flora´s work. Parts of her jewellery works, which were all made of transparent glass, slowly emerged like ghost-like appearances on a foggy field. The longer I stayed in the room, the more details were relinquished, but still the upper parts of the pieces stayed hidden, merging into the wall. The text, which Flora had written about the installation of her diploma show, read:

“This is an intimate installation which I intended as a reaction to the moment of leaving. Somewhere inside me is stored all that I have lived, everything that has happened. I can’t touch this but it’s there. The more I try to define it, the more I lose it. These are the ephemeral moments, imprinted into the fragility of this point in life full of doubts and uncertainty.
With this installation, I want to take you on a walk, when in one moment you are losing the past, losing sureness and at this same moment, the present appears. It is not possible to catch that moment between, but we experience it all the time if we become aware of it.
What fascinates me about the actual act of writing on the wall ‘I was here’ is its connection to the past which it refers to while the act of writing is happening now and creating a bridge with the future hope. It is this moment of honesty with oneself, when I want to reflect, when I want to acknowledge, when I want to connect with the person who ‘was here’.”

Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova (born in 1976 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia) obtained an Advanced Diploma in Art and Craft at the Hungry Creek Art & Craft School in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2010. In 2011, she gathered a year of work experience with artist Warwick Freeman, also in Auckland, New Zealand. Flora then enrolled in the Munich jewellery class in 2012 and studied there under Professor Otto Künzli and Professor Karen Pontoppidan.

I recorded our conversation when Flora was explaining to me about her jewellery pieces:

Carina: How do you make these pieces? I know a bit about glassworks because I learned glass bead making during my apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Neugablonz, but I don’t know how to make these bigger and free shapes?

Flora: I am using quite thick glass rods, either solid or hollow, for this series. These are heated in the fire and then stretched into a thin line, which then can be shaped.

Carina: Which kind of torch are you using for this? One with many tips? This was what we used for the glass beads.

Flora: Yes, the one I use has several tips too. I cannot make the beads though, that’s too difficult with this particular glass as it needs a much higher temperature to melt.

Carina: I always felt like the freer the shape, the more difficult it gets to control the glass.

Flora: Yes, you have to train a lot, but I have been working with glass now for around three years, so I have some experience with it. It also depends on which kind of glass you use. I learned to work with this particular glass, but if I used another kind of glass, it would be only slightly different and I would need some time to get a feeling for it.

Carina: I realized that even with different colours of glass, some colours were easy to work with and others were really hard. But you are only using the transparent glass, right? For me, your pieces look as if they were made of ice, also the sound when the glass chain you’re wearing now is moving is very icy.

Flora: Yes, they have an icy look. I like the totally transparent colourless glass, everything else would be too confusing, I feel.

Carina: What fascinates you about working with glass?

Flora: For me, it is like having a dance. My hands have to make the right movements in the right time, otherwise it doesn’t work at all. Of course, some days are better than others.
When I finished working with my previous project, for which I used newspapers, I was looking for something totally new. By chance, I visited a glass workshop and was fascinated by the process. I like this aspect of glass, that you can only shape it when it changes its state of aggregation from solid to honey like. And I also like that in order to work with glass, you need a lot of patience and focus. You cannot rush it. For me, this series is really about the material, to investigate what its possibilities are. I am also really fascinated with old traditional techniques and for working with the glass, I had to learn a lot about the craftsmanship of traditional glass working.

Carina: Probably a question you hear all the time: Are your glass jewellery pieces very fragile? You are now wearing a very fine necklace. Do you have to be very careful when you wear it?

Flora: It really depends on the shape of the necklace, on how big the parts are and how three- dimensional the whole form is. Naturally the thicker the glass, the more stable it becomes, but then e.g. this thin necklace with the small links I am wearing now is adapting to the shape of the body and moves with it, which makes it easy to wear and less prone to break. So, if somebody would hug me strongly now, nothing would happen to the necklace, but if I dropped it on the floor, it would most likely break.

Carina: That’s interesting, because my experience with bead making was that the bigger I made the glass beads, the easier they broke when they were cooling down or when I took them from the iron bar.

Flora: Bead making is a bit of different story. In general, if you temper the glass, you can release the inner tension in the thicker glass shapes and avoid the spontaneous cracking.

Carina: Does “tempering” mean that you put the glass in an oven to let them cool down slowly?

Flora: Exactly, if you don’t do this, the pieces would be super fragile. For me, the glass even feels different in my hands when I temper it. You have to temper the big pieces for sure, but I even feel a difference with the fine pieces. I put all pieces in an oven at a certain temperature for several hours and then let them cool down over night.

Carina: What are your plans now after the diploma?

Flora: My plans are to relax for now, but only until the Munich Jewellery Week. I will then have a show titled BIKKURIBAKO in the Kunstarkaden with four other students from the Munich jewellery class, Takayoshi Terajima, Asako Takahashi, Seung Hey Ryu and Nelly Stein. But I will also have some of my glass works in the Schmuck exhibition on the fair this year for the first time!

Carina: Congratulations, that’s so great!

Flora: Yes, this was perfect timing I believe!

Carina: Definitely. So, good luck with your projects and hopefully some well-deserved relaxation time too.

Images:
1 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Invitation card for diploma show …I was here, Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
2/3 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
4 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Go and f… yourself you dirty bastard;  Necklace, 2015; Glass, steel wire; 96 cm long; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
6 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Hara What?; Necklace, 2016; Glass;  17 cm x12 cm x7 cm (pendant part), 109cm long; Photo:Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
7 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Rain; Necklace, 2014; Glass; 130cm long; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
8 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show So What!, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
9 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova

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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (2/5): Nadine Kuffner

Nadine Kuffner and I have already worked together on several different levels: We shared a room during my last two years in the jewellery class, exhibited together and occasionally, Nadine was modeling for photos where she was wearing my jewellery. She was now one of the five graduates of the jewellery class of the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. Her diploma show was titled So What!

Nadine Kuffner (born 1982 in Munich, Germany) studied two semesters at the Contemporary Jewellery School Alchemia in Florence, Italy, before she completed an apprenticeship as a silversmith at the State Vocational College for Glass and Jewellery in Neugablonz, Germany, from 2004 until 2007. Afterwards she immediately enrolled at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, in the field of contemporary jewellery from where she graduated with a BA of Fine Arts. Since 2010, Nadine has studied in the jewellery class in Munich, first with Prof. Otto Künzli and then with Prof. Karen Pontoppidan.

Even though I know Nadine’s work, there was still plenty to discover for me in her exciting diploma show: She was presenting jewellery pieces and a wall piece all made of cast tin. On one wall, there was a necklace, which was apparently created by throwing the liquid tin directly on a chain, which was hung on the wall. The splashes ran down the wall and there were large spots on the floor. Next to it hung several oval pendants and a rectangular structured wall piece. The pedestals carried three very diverse necklaces. This is the conversation we had when I visited the show:

Nadine: I have been working for approximately one year now on this body of work, but it is part of a larger investigation, and I have been busy with it for quite a while now. I am examining and challenging different aspects of jewellery. Before the tin series, which I am showing here, I worked with bronze and cast massive pieces, which were not wearable because of their enormous weight. This brought the attention to other aspects of the adornment. This new series is scrutinising other facets of jewellery.

Carina: Are these new works made in a similar way to your bronze series, for which you used lost wax casting?

Nadine: No, these pieces are made differently. I heat up the tin on the hot plate, as it is melting at around 230 degrees. This enables me to work directly with the liquid material, which is really exciting for me.

Carina: So how do you create your shapes?

Nadine: I make negative forms from soft materials, e.g. for the really long necklace, I used self-drying clay, which I arranged in a ring-shaped heap on the floor, pressed a groove into it and poured the just melted tin inside. What you see there is the lower side of the casting. The proliferations were not planned of course, but I really like that they happened. I feel like I am doing some kind of collaboration with the material. The material has its own character and will, so the material and I are equally involved in the process of making. Of course, I make the decision in the end. Is the outcome going to be a jewellery piece or something else? Or will I quash the result and start anew?

Carina: What specifically is this series talking about when you say you are challenging aspects of jewellery?

Nadine: It’s about the craft of jewellery making, about what is expected from me as a maker of jewellery. Traditionally, jewellery making is precision work, for which you need to gather a lot of knowledge first. It normally also takes quite a lot of time and patience to make jewellery. With these pieces I am questioning these expectations towards the creating of jewellery, because the pieces were made in a brief moment and more by chance than by control and skills. (Nadine points to one of her pieces, a flat round pendant with cloudlike structures) And here I was drawing with the liquid tin.

Carina: How do you draw with liquid metal?

Nadine: I’d say it’s a kind of choreography of the material and me. It’s a technique, for which I am dripping and pulling the material, all in a matter of seconds. This piece here merely took a minute to make. So it is far away from the painstaking time-intensive work of goldsmiths. Of course, it took me plenty of time and countless tryouts though to understand how the material reacts and until I reached satisfying results. (Nadine points to the next necklace) And for this loop chain necklace, I used hematite stone powder, a stone which is also used for traditional jewellery. I pressed furrows inside the hematite sand and then cast the tin into it. The loops were not opened and hung into each other, but the next loop is cast as a link into the previous one.

Carina: And how is the wall-piece made?

Nadine: I folded the material and then forged it with a silversmithing hammer. Like this, the material got stretched more in some places than in others and when I unfolded it again, this three-dimensional shape emerged. It was exciting for me to create a piece of free art with the traditional technique of silversmiths to forge the metal with a hammer. I investigate the borders between fine arts and applied arts, I look at their relationship and question hierarchies.

Carina: I know that you are going to show during the Munich Jewellery Week in March now, I think even in several shows, right?

Nadine: As one of five finalists of the “Förderpreis der Kaufbeurer Künstlerstiftung”, my work will be part of a one-day exhibition in the Pinakothek der Moderne on Friday, the 10th of March, which is the same day of the opening of the Tone Vigeland show there in the museum. And “scattered flux” will be an exhibition of mine, together with Patrícia Domingues in Türkenstraße 78 from Wednesday the 8th until Sunday the 12th of March. In this exhibition, we will broach the issue of creating together and I am looking forward to working with someone, who does or did not study in the jewellery class in Munich, as I hope to experience a totally different approach to the theme.

Carina: Great, I am looking forward to that. May I ask what are your plans now for the near future?

Nadine: I am staying in Munich and I want to continue with my work in this direction. I have been studying and creating in the field of contemporary jewellery for already 13 years and ever since got totally hooked, so I want to keep at it and hope that I will develop my career.

Carina: I have no doubt that you will, but I still wish you the best of luck!

Images:
1 Nadine Kuffner: Invitation card for diploma show So What!, Photo: Nadine Kuffner; Layout: Future Playground
2 Nadine Kuffner: Diploma show So What!, Munich, 2017; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Nadine Kuffner: Diploma show So What!, Munich, 2017; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Nadine Kuffner: 169, Necklace 2017; Tin; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Nadine Kuffner: A Jeweller’s Anarchy, Pendant, 2017; Tin, string; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
6 Nadine Kuffner: Ösenkette, Necklace, 2017; Tin; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
7 Nadine Kuffner: Diploma show So What!, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
8 Nadine Kuffner: A Jeweller’s Anarchy, Pendants, 2017; Tin, string, steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi