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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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Doily Free Zone

lace serie 4

Recently I was invited to take part in a Triennial focused on young lace makers called Doily Free Zone , which will take place in Gandino, Italy, 10-12 June 2016. The project will include an exhibition as well as several workshops and talks with artists. Even though I haven’t been working with the bobbin laces for several years, this series, which I developed at the beginning of my studies in the jewellery department in Munich, is still dear to me and I am happy to get a chance to show some of these pieces again. When looking at the work of the other artists though, I must confess I feel a bit like the Dexter Morgan of the lace artists amongst them. My pieces started with the destruction of handmade laces, which could be interpreted as a rather radical or even disrespectful approach.

Around 10 years ago I had found a cardboard box full with these handmade bobbin laces and doilies in my parents cellar. My stepfather’s mother Lotte had been a big collector of all decorative things and after she died, it was quite a job to clear out several cupboards stuffed with compilations of figurines, fake flowers and embroidered bordures. My mother, who is a truly practical person, had no use for any of this “Ramsch“ and gave it all away – except the box with the handmade bobbin laces. Still, she was more than happy to be rid of these too…

In the studio I took some of the lace doilies out for a closer inspection. I could not see them as something beautiful, actually I felt a bit disgusted. They were yellowed and had brown coffee stains, on some I found remnants of some creatures who had feasted on them, too. But then I remembered that these laces were handmade, somebody or more likely a lot of somebody’s had invested quite an amount of time to make these laces with skillful hands. I had seen pictures of women working on bobbin laces and remembered wondering how on earth someone could manage this chaos of threads and sticks (so called bobbins) to create these complicated patterns. By imagining the hands who had fabricated them, the laces, too, became alive in a way and I felt like I was holding some fragile decaying creatures, more dead than alive. “Better to give them a clean death“ I thought and in an impulse took a pair of scissors and started to cut inside the first lace. I felt a tiny bit nasty, but I was also enjoying myself. When I had cut up several laces into tiny bits and pieces I looked onto a bobbin lace graveyard.

bobbin lace necklace 1detail

Not unlike I did with my previous experiments with other materials I began to play with the lace tatters. I sewed and glued pieces together and cut off other parts again. Very slowly a new form was growing, a three dimensional ornament which was free of the corset of a strict pattern. It took several days to finish the first complex form.
Like the original laces, all the pieces of jewellery I made from the bobbin laces have a filigrane and fragile, but also morbid complexion. They might imply associations of withered leaves, dried blossoms and branches, dead insects or bones of little animals. Some of the pieces I partly coloured with coffee, which gives them a burned grimy look. Others I dyed in the greenish and greyish colours of moss and fungi.

DSC_0012

To enhance the dismal aspect I casted my own teeth in resin, and integrated them into some of the brooches. At first glance, they look like dried shriveled flowers, only upon closer inspection do they reveal what they really are. Later I did the same with finger bones (apparently not my own…).
These pieces show a beauty which is still evident but already in a stage of decay. To be honest, I am not entirely sure why I felt I needed to emphasise on this aspect of deterioration in this work. Maybe because the laces themselves were in such bad condition and evoked both attraction and repulsion. Maybe because the traditional handcraft of making bobbin laces will probably disappear from this world entirely. Surely I was influenced by the history of the bobbin lace makers, which is a very sad one: “La decoration de la personne“ it was called in the second half of the 16th century, when the bobbin laces became so popular that the rich and aristocratic decorated themselves with them from face to foot. The bobbin lace makers on the other side were extremely poor and worked under inhuman conditions for several centuries. I can easily picture these women sitting day and night bent over the bobbin lace pillow urging themselves on and on in order to produce enough laces to keep their families alive- aching bashed-up fingers and hungry mouths with yellowed teeth…

bobbin lace brooch 1

Frost Crust 1

This is a German poem of Louise Otto-Peters (1819- 1895), which describes vividly the hard life of the bobbin lace makers:

Klöpplerinnen

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen
Die Wangen bleich und die Augen rot!
Sie mühen sich ab für einen Bissen,
Für einen Bissen schwarzes Brot!

Großmutter hat sich die Augen erblindet,
Sie wartet, bis sie der Tod befreit –
Im stillen Gebet sie die Hände windet:
Gott schütz’ uns in der schweren Zeit.

Die Kinder regen die kleinen Hände,
Die Klöppel fliegen hinab, hinauf,
Der Müh’ und Sorge kein Ende, keine Ende!
Das ist ihr künftiger Lebenslauf.

Die Jungfrauen all, daß Gott sich erbarme,
Sie ahnen nimmer der Jugend Lust –
Das Elend schließt sie in seine Arme,
Der Mangel schmiegt sich an ihre Brust.

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen,
Seht Ihr die Spitzen, die sie gewebt:
Ihr Reichen, Großen – hat das Gewissen
Euch nie in der innersten Seele gebebt?

Ihr schwelgt und prasset, wo sie verderben,
Genießt das Leben in Saus und Braus,
Indessen sie vor Hunger sterben,
Gott dankend, daß die Qual nun aus!

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen
Und redet noch schön von Gottvertraun?
Ihr habt es aus ihrer Seele gerissen,
Weil sie Euch selber gottlos schaun!

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen
Und fühlt kein Erbarmen in solcher Zeit,
Dann werde Euer Sterbekissen
Der Armut Fluch und all ihr Leid!

lace serie 3

lace serie 8

Images:
1 Carina Shoshtary: Untitled, necklace, 2009; Bobbin lace, paint; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
2 Carina Shoshtary: Untitled, necklace, 2008; Bobbin lace, coffee, plastic bead; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Carina Shoshtary: Untitlednecklace (detail), 2008; Bobbin lace, coffee, plastic bead; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Carina Shoshtary: Untitledbrooch, 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, paint, stainless steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
5 Carina Shoshtary: Untitledbrooch, 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, coffee, stainless steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6 Carina Shoshtary: Frost Crust, brooch, 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, sand, paint, stainless steel; Photo: Carina Shoshtary:
7 Carina Shoshtary: Untitled, necklace; Bobbin lace, coffee, silver; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
8 Carina Shoshtary: Ice Floes, brooch (detail), 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, paint, stainless steel; Photo: Attai Chen

Text edit: Hayley Grafflin

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Where Blue hides after Dark

Mariwithsting

“Where Blue hides after Dark ” was the title of my first solo exhibition in Sienna Gallery in Autumn 2014 where I was showing pieces from the  “Karma Chroma” – series. Sienna Patti and I decided to make a catalogue to accompany the exhibition. It was immediately clear to me that I would like photos of the pieces worn upon the body in this catalogue besides pictures of the pieces on white paper.

In the past, I didn’t think of the body much whilst making my jewellery pieces. For me, it was actually more like creating sculptures on a small scale which had the option of being attached to the body. Once people started buying and wearing some pieces of mine, I realised how the pieces came to life when they were put on the body… I am making jewellery after all.

Before this project I photographed my pieces on the body myself. I was asking friends to model for me, quite casually photographing them wearing my work in front of a white wall. These pictures were not bad, but they were also nothing special.

Stefanowithmedullanecklace

For this catalogue I wanted something more sophisticated, with a narrative and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to achieve this myself. However, finding the right person for such a project can be a cause of sleepless nights. I wanted a photographer who would be able to create a strong atmosphere in the photographs without taking too much attention from the jewellery pieces. I didn´t want the images to appear too much like fashion photography, yet still retain a tiny touch of a gloss; a very fine line. So I was looking for a person with a sensitive understanding of the artworks, but also someone who has her/his own strong visual expressiveness.

It was pure luck that brought me together with Laurens Grigoleit. A friend of mine, who had just recently photographed by him, made the contact. Laurens, who creates artistic photographs as well as working as a fashion photographer, was not only interested in taking the pictures, but even offered to bring a whole professional team including make up artist Nadja Kaiser, stylist Katharina Gruszczynski and Laurens´ photo assistant.

AngiewithMedullaearrings

The models were our mutual friend Angela Geisenhofer, Stefano Troia and Mari Halang (who was, back then, only starting her career, but has since worked for huge companies, such as Zara, Mango and Monki).

I was excited and a bit anxious at the prospect of working with so many people on these photographs but I needn’t have worried; everyone involved was extremely sensitive and professional. We had discussed ideas for the images by phone already and so on the actual day of the shoot, I didn’t have much more to do than to serve snacks and drinks and watch it all happen. I was particularly amazed by the complicated nature of the lighting. Laurens and his assistant took a lot of time in the beginning to construct this lighting and I couldn’t imagine at all how this would appear in the images. When I then saw the first photos on the screen, I was quite amazed. He brilliantly uses an effective incidence of light to create a kind of painterly impression, making the images look almost like renaissance portraits.

StefanowithRadugatreebrooch

Mariwithnuggetbrooch

The stylist Katharina and the make-up artist Nadja also did a wonderful job. Together they succeeded to create these strong and beautiful images, which cannot really be defined in time or place.

The second really lucky thing to happen regarding this catalogue was that jewellery artist Karen Pontoppidan, former professor at the Konstfack Universitiy College of Art, Craft and Design in Stockholm and now newly appointed Professor of the jewellery department at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, agreed to write an essay about my work. As expected this turned out to be striking and very perceptive.

Sienna Patti asked me, if I would also like to write a text for the catalogue. I struggled for days, trying to put my thoughts and feelings about this work into words. I always disliked writing artist statements. I think this must be because my work is so emotional and intuitive. Often I had the feeling that I was taking away some of the work’s “magic” by trying to characterize it in words. In the end, I decided not to write an explanation about the work, but a short story; a kind of fairytale, which is connected to it. This was, in fact, a dream I had:

Blue was a cautious, thoughtful being that knew it had to take good care of itself in order not to lose any of its radiance and glow. Whenever it felt weak and turned pale, Blue retreated to a safe, well- hidden place, resting until it regained its former strength. The other colours were not that prudent. Even though they may have been stronger, bolder and more vibrant than Blue, they were blinded by their own beauty and did not grasp the peril of being present and radiant all the time. So it came that even after all other colours had faded and almost vanished from this world, Blue was still gleaming vividly on the waves of the oceans and in the currents of the sky.

AngiewithBluebrooch

Who is Blue? No sense in denying that I can identify myself with the Blue creature in my dream. I often have to retire from the social world in order to function or simply to feel like myself again. I guess I do fit the stereotype of the unworldly hypersensitive artist. Yet in my dream, Blue actually accepts this weakness and even turns it into its strength.

I have since realised that creating art is doing this for me; turning my weaknesses into a potent energy. When I feel I have to reload my batteries or when I feel lost, I go to my well-hidden workshop in the middle of nowhere and start to create. This is my safe place and I am very thankful to have it.

Rabbitsfoot

Angiewithhearttree

Stefanowithradugabuds

Images:
1 Sting, necklace, 2013; graffiti, silver; 19,5 x 8,8 x 2,4 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
2 Medulla 3, necklace, 2014; cactus, graffiti, silver; 26 x 46 x 3,4 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
3 Medulla 2, earrings, 2014; cactus, graffiti, silver, paint; 6,2 x 2,4 x 1,4 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
4 Raduga Tree 3, brooch, 2014; graffiti, silver, stainless steel; 18,0 x 7,2 x 5,4 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
5 Nugget, brooch, 2014; graffiti, silver, stainless steel; 6,4 x 5,3 x 3,2 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
6 Where Blue hides after Dark, brooch, 2014; graffiti, glass, silver, stainless steel; 12,7 x 4,3 x 2,3 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
7 Rabbit´s Foot, necklace, 2014; graffiti, wood, silver, paint; pendant: 8,8 x 7,0 x 3,3 cm, chain: 67 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
8 Heart Tree, necklace, 2014; graffiti, wood, silver, paint; 44 x 23 x 8,0 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
9 Raduga Buds 4, necklace, 2014; wood, graffiti, silver, paint; 25 x 41 x 3,3 cm; Photo: Laurens Grigoleit

Text edit: Hayley Grafflin