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!
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