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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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Extraordinary! No.3: The salt vessels and jewellery of Naama Bergman

Naama Bergman3

One of my favourite exhibitions during Munich Jewellery Week this year was Dissolved Revolved in the Akademie Galerie by Naama Bergman and Emi Fukuda. Their display was seemingly simple, but very effective. A rolling board was meandering its way into the big room and around a centered pillar. Numerous dimmed light bulbs created soft spotlights on the pieces and even though the gallery is unromantically situated in the underground station, the exhibition had a calm almost poetic atmosphere. In one of the corners, there were a few glass containers filled with a cloudy liquid. Airy white creatures were floating inside, gracious and fragile looking. These were no jellyfish, but Naama Bergman’s work in the making. Now a student in her 3rd year in the jewellery class of the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, she has been experimenting for almost two years with the process of crystallising salt on fine iron structures. I already knew her amazing jewellery pieces from this series, but these vessels were very new and I was really excited to see them. And I was far from alone there: Naama is going to have her first solo exhibition in Gallery Loupe in the USA from the 17th of September until the 8th of October 2016.

Naama Bergman2

Naama first studied jewellery at the Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts, Jerusalem from 2004-2008. I actually knew her back then, because she came as an exchange student to Munich for one semester, when I was only in my first semester. She lived and worked for a couple of years in Amsterdam before she enrolled in the Munich jewellery class in 2013. Before getting started with her salt pieces, Naama made delicate necklaces from cow intestines. It was during her work with the intestines that she started wondering about the qualities of salt, and its ability to preserve materials, which otherwise would quickly decay and disappear. Hence, the language of the salt series is all connected to the notion of collecting and containing. But in Naama’s work, the salt plays an ambiguous role. On the one hand, the salt crystals, which form around the iron, support the fine metal structures, but on the other hand, the salt is slowly eating its way into the metal. A chemist friend told Naama that probably it would take between 20-30 years until some parts of the pieces definitely fall apart and the form collapses. This makes these pieces even more attractive for me because their beauty is the kind of beauty that is drawn from life. The colours of the vessels are also intriguing. While the pieces floating in the salt brine are still completely white, the exhibited pieces had beige and brown gradients, because the iron had already started to rust. Naama told me that the colours will still change, and the pieces will get a darker hue of brown over time.

Naama Bergman7

Naama kindly answered a few of my questions about her salt series:

Carina: You mentioned that the shape of the container plays an important role in this work. Can you explain this please?

Naama: My vessels and jewellery follow the shape of containers, but are made of nets and thus cannot fulfill their designated function – to contain liquids or materials. Making those containers out of nets suspends their original function, and only allows them to keep only the idea of containing. The pieces, to me, hold things such as memories, real ones or imaginary that cannot be contained. The container, now made out of net, allows this metaphorical containing, and the ability to bring to discourse the notion of containing metaphysical, rather than physical matter.

Naama Bergman4

Carina: Please tell me a bit about the process of making these pieces. How much control do you have over the way the salt crystallising the structure? How much do you leave to chance?

Naama: The organic growth of crystals over the pieces holds a level of certainty and uncertainty at the same time. The conditions of the crystallisation process are controlled through the saturation of the salt in the water, the temperature, and the duration of crystallisation. This experience has allowed me to control and manipulate the crystallisation process and result while working with this material. However, as an organic and chaotic material, I never have had full control over the result. This lack of control and the ability to be constantly surprised with the result keeps the tension between the controlled and uncontrolled at the foundation of the pieces. As an organic matter, the pieces will continue to transform when they are ‘done’, and even longer when they are worn, which makes their life span dynamic and ever changing.

Carina: It is inevitable that the pieces will destroy themselves over time. But until then: Are the necklaces and brooches wearable? How important is the matter of wearability for you in your jewellery?

Naama: In the beginning when I was starting to experiment with iron and salt, wearability was not a primary goal. The material research and experimentation was the goal. Naturally, the first piece created was not rigid, but with time, and as I gained more experience and control over the process, the salt crystals became more and more stable up to the point where the salt covered pieces are wearable.
I believe that wearability is a limited term, and a piece does not necessarily need to be ‘wearable’ in order to act as jewellery. To me, sustainable is a more relevant term since the jewellery’s purpose and function exceeds the limited scope of wearability. It functions as a memory piece, as a collectable piece, as an emotional piece, and not necessarily limited to its ‘on-body’ purpose.

Naama Bergman5

Carina: What would you say is the thread that runs through your work?

Naama: Identity, mix identity, cultural heritage, placement and displacement are topics I find relevant to explore through my practice and those topics are definitely affected by the geography and culture I work from.
While I was working in Israel, the origins of my family’s cultural heritage were rooted in eastern Europe – and my focal point revolved around those roots, the Jewish-Ashkenazi (European-Jewish heritage), how it was perceived and its role in the emerging Israeli culture. While moving to Europe five years ago, to Amsterdam first and than Munich later, the focal point of my research naturally shifted, while remaining in similar territory. In this new geography, the focus on Jewish-Ashkenazy heritage made room for new questions, questions of identity, placement and misplacement, belonging and not belonging. The interest in the clash between my roots and the present remain the main umbrella under which I work, but the specific topics of research constantly develop.

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1 Naama Bergman: Work in progress; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
2 Naama Bergman & Emi Fukuda: Dissolved Revolved, exhibition in Munich, 2016; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
3 Naama Bergman: Untitled, vessals, 2016; Salt, iron mesh; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Naama Bergman: Untitled, brooch, 2016; Salt, iron wire; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
5 Naama Bergman: Untitled, brooch, 2015; Salt, iron wire; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6 Naama Bergman: Untitled, necklace, 2015; Salt, iron wire, hemp thread; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi

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Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

The Munich Jewellery Week is over. I didn’t manage to see everything- not even close- but as I had no project myself this year, I had more time to see exhibitions than in previous years. The tendency seemed to be towards simple jewellery-friendly displays and big group shows. Personally, I found there to be a lack of the more intimate atmospheric shows, but then again: I didn’t see everything. In any case there was plenty of great art jewellery to discover, some of which I am going to feature in Extraordinary! on KARMA CHROMA in the coming weeks.

I would like to begin with Christoph Straube’s current series titled “Enamel on Silver” and “Enamel on Steel”, which I would describe as stunning comic-like drawings in enamel on metal of simple geometric three dimensional shapes. He was showing them this year at two different places; at the fair in Munich, with gallery Rosemarie Jäger and a booth he shared with the JAC group.
Like me, Christoph first completed a three year apprenticeship as a goldsmith at the Berufsfachschule für Glas und Schmuck in Neugablonz, Germany. He then went on to study at the College of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, Germany, in the class for gold-and silversmithing under Prof. Ulla Mayer from 2000-2006. During and after his art studies he experimented with many materials, but for these new series he came back to traditional goldsmithing techniques and materials. The necklaces were already on display in the Schmuck 2014- exhibition and attracted me immediately. To be honest, enamel-on-metal-work is often not surprising me. In the big picture, I feel the aesthetics that are reached with enameling techniques have exhausted themselves somewhat. Christoph’s pieces however, have something very fresh and unique about them. With humor and skills he has created a clever body of work, which challenges the viewer: Perspective distortion and a play with overlapping elements to create optical illusions which invite the eyes to explore. Christoph states that he likes to invent a system with its own logic, within these boundaries he investigates what is possible. For me they are extraordinary, sensitive pieces of art jewellery which are beautifully made adornments and are really fun to look at.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

At the fair, he showed me the backsides of the brooches, which bring in another element: colour. I like the contrast between the black and white fronts with their delicate drawings and the boldly coloured backsides, which concentrate on outline and surface.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings
Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Christoph Straube kindly answered some questions for me about these pieces:

Carina: You experimented with many different materials in your previous work. What made you decide to come back to traditional jewellery materials like silver, steel and enamel for this series?

Christoph: I like the idea that the silver and steel pieces look as if they were sketches which have been cut from paper sheets – opposite to pieces where non-precious materials are processed in order to visually look like more precious materials.

Carina: Can you explain a bit the process of developing and making these pieces?

Christoph: As a first step I sketch everything on paper – for me, that’s the fastest way to develop a shape and an idea. After that, with the help of the computer and a 3D software, I construct three dimensional objects which I can rotate in order to determine the particular perspective view. I export everything as a line drawing to Illustrator, where I align several shapes and print them out on paper. From here, the traditional hand craft process starts: I simply cut out the shapes, glue them on a metal sheet and saw them out. The rest – and main part – is enamel painting: in several firings I apply a white background, shadings and at last I draw the black lines with very fine ground painting enamel. Only after the last firing and assembling of the whole piece I can see if it’s right.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Carina: It seems you develop your technique further and further until it is immaculate. Are you a perfectionist? How much do you leave to chance?

Christoph: I am a perfectionist regarding the accuracy of the initial draft and the pure technical part of my work. In enameling, I appreciate unpredictable colour changes or traces from the work process like paint dust on the surface. For me this makes the vibrancy of the pieces.

Carina: A part of the work on these pieces is happening on the computer. What do you think about the increasing use of computer-based techniques in the field of art jewellery? What significance do they have for your own work?

Christoph: For my work, the computer is just a tool like a saw or a file. With the computer the drafting work gets much more efficient but is just a step in the whole process. You don´t see it at the end. Though, I find a meaningful use of computer-based techniques in jewellery quite interesting. Generative design is a huge field, and some people use especially the faults of CAM methods like coarse surface structures, which surely give new design possibilities.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Carina: What would you say is the golden thread that runs though your work?

Christoph: A humorous and comic-like aspect went along with most of my pieces. Further, I found myself often working in design systems which limit the amount of possible shapes. In earlier works, this happened by stylization or a work principle like making pieces by folding only. Also the enamel necklaces and brooches with their geometric shapes cannot be done with any shape in its particular perspective and alignment. Yet this limitation lets me experience the freedom in designing even more.

Carina: Thank you!

Christoph: Thank you!

If you want to see more of Christoph´s work, please visit his website:  www.preciouspages.de

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings
Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings
Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Images:
Christoph Straube: Necklaces, untitled, sterling silver, enamel (2013-2015); Brooches, untitled, stainless steel, enamel (2015-2016); Photos: Christoph Straube

Text edit: Hayley Grafflin