All posts filed under “Art Jewellery

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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!

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

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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (1/5): Mari Iwamoto

A few days ago, I was in Munich to see the diploma shows of the graduates in the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. Of course, I was especially curious about the exhibitions of the five graduates of Karen Pontoppidan´s jewellery class. I know most of them from my own studies there as our time in the class overlapped for one or two years. It is an exhilarating but also a bit scary moment to finish these long studies: In the ADBK Munich, you can finish your diploma after three years, but most students stay there for five or even six years. So, we weren’t only talking about their artworks in the diploma show, but also about their plans for the future. The interviews with Mari Iwamoto, Nadine Kuffner, Jing Yang, Emi Fukuda and Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova will be presented here, one by one, over the next few days.

I want to start with a friend of mine: Mari Iwamoto (born 1987 in Tokyo, Japan), came to Munich 6 1/2 years ago to study in the Munich jewellery class, which then was still under Prof. Otto Künzli. Previously, she had studied at the Hikomizuno College of Jewelry in Tokyo from 2006-2009.
For her diploma show, which was titled Zieh dich aus! (“Undress yourself!”), Mari dared to enter a completely new terrain. She created an installation, which consisted of three parts: A city of glass jars, which were all filled with cooked peeled tomatoes, a heap of yellow leaves, and a single oval shaped brown pendant, which was lying on a square cement stone. I recorded our conversation, when Mari explained her work to me:

Carina: Did you cook and preserve these tomatoes?

Mari: Yes, I first separated the tomato skin from the meat and then cooked the meat and preserved it in glasses. The leaves here are the skins of all the tomatoes in the preserving jars. The pendant has a wooden core and then it’s covered with tomato seeds.

Carina: How many tomatoes did you use there? It looks like many kilos.

Mari: Around 150 kg. I cooked tomatoes for about three months…

Carina: Please tell me a bit about the idea behind it. I know that you worked with the shape of tomatoes before, but now this is a whole different story I believe.

Mari: For me, the tomatoes are similar to humans. They consist of a thin skin and inside there is meat, water and seeds. Also, tomatoes are a very common vegetable, and you see them all the time. And they are very fragile, which I find is comparable to us.

Carina: So when the tomatoes are symbolizing humans, why did you peel their skin off? Did you want to expose their insides?

Mari: My aim in the beginning was to create a jewellery piece. I think that one important characteristic of jewellery is that it helps to express the individuality of the wearer. So, I was thinking about what individuality means today for my generation, especially in Japan. I think my generation did not create a lot. My grandfather’s and father’s generation had to rebuild Japan after the war almost from scratch, but today, we are just followers. Today, most people in Japan totally identify themselves with the company for which they are working. Even if the work is really, really hard, you will never quit, because it is the most important thing for you. When we are born into this world, we have our own individual skin, our own character, but eventually we consciously or unconsciously get rid of it to fit into another cover instead. And we have to change a lot to fit in there.

Carina: So the jars symbolize the new “houses” where the individuals had to fit inside. And all the jars together create something like a city, an accumulation of unities, which contain the individuals. Is this installation talking about the loss of individuality when we obligate ourselves into a certain closed community, e.g. a company?

Mari: Yes, exactly. I must say I feel very secure and comfortable in a group, for instance, I belong to the group of students of the ADBK which makes me feel safe. The individuality of one person is beautiful, but also instable and weak. But when you belong to a community, the group is much stronger and protected. It feels comfortable. However, we do have a substantial need to be different from others even though I believe we don’t know what this really means. This is what the pendant is symbolizing.

Carina: What do you mean? What do the seeds of the pendant stand for?

Mari: The seeds symbolize the future. We have the potential to build something new, but we don’t know how to do that. Our system is finished and rigid, and to change or destroy parts of it doesn’t come naturally to us.

Carina: So do you think that we have to leave the safety of the jar to create our future differently?

Mari: Yes, definitely.

Carina: The pendant looks quite archaic.

Mari: Yes, I wanted to create a kind of talisman from the seeds.

Carina: So, now that you are finished with your studies here, what is the individual Mari going to do?

Mari: I will stay in Munich for now and will continue making art, but I don’t know which kind of art that will be. I’ve been working in the field of art jewellery for a long time now and I want to continue my research about the body etc., but I feel that what is more important for me now is to implement an idea that I have and develop it in the way I feel is right for it.

Carina: I think it works really well here. The different parts of the installation all tell one story together. It is totally conclusive. So maybe that is a good way of working for you, to express an idea in different media and bring them together.

Mari: Yes, I would like to choose the media according to the idea or thought that I have. Video, installation or jewellery, there is no limit for me, and also no hierarchy. The media has to express the idea well. That is where I will center my attention.

Carina: So congratulations on this great diploma show. You also won a prize for it, no? Which one is it? I know there are several…

Mari: It is called “Senator-Bernhard-Borstpreis” of the Stiftung Kunstakademie. It includes another show from the 9th until the 17th of June 2017 in Lothringer 13 Halle in Munich.

Carina: Great. So people will have the chance to see a similar installation again there?

Mari: Yes.

Carina: Thank you, Mari!

1 Mari Iwamoto: Invitation card for diploma show Zieh dich aus, Photo: Mari Iwamoto
2 Mari Iwamoto: Diploma show Zieh dich aus, Munich, 2017; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Mari Iwamoto: Diploma show Zieh dich aus, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
4 Mari Iwamoto: Zieh dich aus, 2017; Tomato skins; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Mari Iwamoto: Zieh dich aus, Pendant 2017; Tomato seeds, wood, soil; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
6 Mari Iwamoto: Diploma show Zieh dich aus, Munich, 2017; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
7 Mari Iwamoto: Zieh dich aus, 2017; Tomato flesh, glas jars, cement; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
8 Mari Iwamoto: Diploma show Zieh dich aus, Munich, 2017; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi

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(A text for) Judit Pschibl`s pp- series

Writing this blog is a temporary commitment I made, which makes me sit down and write regularly, and I really enjoy it. Especially writing in English. My German writing is always far too tangled. Interspersed with train sentences, foreign words and bumpy metaphorical phrases, I probably try too hard to sound clever. In English, though, I take the liberty to write plainly, which has allowed me to be more straightforward and to the point. The same actually counts for me speaking English. My experience is that when I am speaking English, I am often more comfortable and open than the German speaking me, which I surely do find a bit weird. Maybe I just lack the ability to beat around the bush in English? Or is it the sound of the language itself, which makes me feel and act differently? Or maybe the foreign language creates a bit of a distance, so that I don´t feel as involved as in German and so feel more secure? Whatever the reason, it is a strange phenomenon, and I find the notion quite interesting that a different language brings out a different version of yourself.

So, astonishingly, when my friend and colleague, Judit Pschibl, asked me if I would write a short informative text about her recent art jewellery series, I decided to accept the challenge, but I also decided to write it in English. Judit will then hire someone else to have the text translated to German, which is quite funny, but is probably for the best (That reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger having someone else dubbing his voice for the German version of his movies. Like all Germans, I have watched dubbed movies in the past and recently I was watching Predator again after many years, but this time in English. I could not believe my ears… Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking English is the real deal! I almost fell off the couch laughing…).

Judit Pschibl (born in 1973 in Weiden i.d.Opf., Germany) studied jewellery design at the State Academy of Drawing, Hanau, and made her master of goldsmithing and jewellery design in 2001. She then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich in the class of Otto Künzli from 2003 to 2008, where we met in 2006 when I was joining. I remember her diploma show very well, because I really enjoyed the pieces she was showing there: Judit had created a series of chain necklaces made of hand sewn and coloured fabric filled with sand. I immediately had a strong impulse of wanting to touch and wear them, to feel the weight and texture. The biggest necklace was shown on a life scale photograph on the topless body of a classmate and I wondered if she had felt crushed or hugged in that moment. When Judit showed me the pieces privately after the show, I could finally try on a necklace: The chain felt more like a cosy pillow, like something warm and soft caressing your neck.

Her recent series is completely different, but equally interesting to experience. Here is my text for Judit:

Judit Pschibl’s pp- series is made of transparent polypropylene, a termoplastic polymer, which due to its qualities such as high resistance to chemical substances, and general stability, can be found in versatile applications today. While normally the characteristic stress-whitening that appears when folding the polypropylene is considered a fault of the material, in this case it was the key point which roused Judit Pschibl’s interest in working with it. The prominent white edges create a striking contrast to the transparent surfaces and establish a graphic element which plays an important role in Judit Pschibl’s artworks. In some pieces, she dyes parts of the edges dark with graphite, which enhances the contrast and creates a clear reference to drawing.

The composition of her necklaces appear complex and highly constructed, however they are assembled only of one single geometric element, that is repeated in various sizes. Like the appearance of a cut diamond, the impression of these pieces is always elusive, constantly shifting with the movement of the wearer and the ever-changing surroundings. The overlapping layers of polypropylene sheets shift from grades of transparency to total opacity, thereby partly reflecting the colours of the environment, and partly refracting the incident light into its individual colour-components. Despite their conspicuous shape and size, these jewellery pieces never seem massive when worn on the body, because they adapt to the wearer’s bearing and situation like the skin of a chameleon.

Judit Pschibl’s pp– series clearly correlates with natural phenomena as well as facets of architecture, drawing and traditional jewellery. However, at its core, this work cycle is actually demonstrating another matter: The basic joy of the maker exploring and interacting with a material, establishing methods and rules to master it, while still embracing the unexpected elements.

1 Judit Pschibl: franzi_1, 2013; Polypropylene, Photo: Judit Pschibl
2 Judit Pschibl: pp/3, 2015; Polypropylene, Graphite; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Judit Pschibl: mia, 2008; Fabric, sand; Photo: Judit Pschibl
4 Judit Pschibl: pp/4, 2015; Polypropylene, Graphite; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
5 Judit Pschibl: Judit Pschibl: franzi_1, 2013; Polypropylene, Photo: Judit Pschibl
6 Judit Pschibl: Untitled, 2015;Polypropylene, Graphite; Photo: Judit Pschibl
7 Judit Pschibl: pp/5, 2015; Polypropylene, Graphite, pigment; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi