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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (5/5): Emi Fukuda

Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (5/5): Emi Fukuda

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works, if from the head, almost nothing.” – Marc Chagall

Emi Fukuda and I have a similar approach to our creative processes. Our work doesn’t have its starting point with a rational idea we want to express or a defined statement that we want to make. Emi and I are “emotional makers”. We let our pieces evolve in an intuitive process, which embraces spontaneity and experimental play. This is just how creating comes most naturally to us. Emi wrote in her artist statement: “I like to think that my works are not made, but in a sense, they grow into existence.” Having found the perfect word to embody this “organic” way of creating, Emi titled her diploma show Flow.

The difficulties this way of creating present to me is that it is much harder to talk about emotional rather than rational and intellectual processes. How do you talk about things that came from a place within you, that you yourself might not really understand? Which leads me to the question: Does an artist have to talk and write about her/his work?

In general, I would say that it is completely ok if an artist does not talk and write about his/her work, no matter for what reasons. The work itself should do most of the talking anyhow in my point of view. But: I realized that not writing and talking about the work is limiting an artist´s possibilities to promote the work significantly. In the past, I avoided circumstances which required words of mine about my work. But after a while, there was just no way around it anymore. The more I managed to get my work out there, the more often it was requested that I talk and write about it. The truth is that being an artist is not only about creating anymore, artists today have to be multitalented and super-creative on many levels. In our digitised, globalised world, artists have to be some kind of all-round performers, and if you have a way with words, that is definitely an ability that will prove most helpful on countless occasions.

Unfortunately, the ambition to capture the audience sometimes happens at the expense of the artists’ authenticity. On several occasions, it occurred to me that I was sitting in an artist talk, and the artist took away the magic of the work for me by trying too hard: a sophisticated, intellectual approach that seemed forced, a cascade of historic references or gimmicky notions…. Just to make the point that words don’t necessarily help the work.

So, if you really don’t want or can’t write and talk about your work, why not let somebody else do it for you? This will happen sooner or later anyhow by art historians, journalists, curators, gallery owners etc. I gained good and not so good experiences with that. In the best case the writer has the knowledge, the imagination and the sensitivity to write something that is doing justice to the artworks. Some people wrote texts about my work, which really were great, much better than anything I could have ever written. Some planted misguiding conclusions, which were picked up by others and developed further. One interview with a Dutch guy went so totally the wrong way that in the end I asked him to not publish anything. I felt that he completely misunderstood my work and that this interview would be only counterproductive.

When I began to understand that there was no way for me of not writing and talking about my work, I started to put my work and myself (as an artist) under the looking glass. Which kind of words beside technical details could I find to make my work more approachable? What could increase rather than diminish the expression of my pieces, but still keep my authenticity as an “emotional maker”? I am still looking for answers while I am trying out different approaches.
For the catalogue of the exhibition, Where Blue Hides After Dark in Sienna Gallery, I wrote a kind fairy tale about the colour Blue, which derived from a dream I had. I felt that worked really well. Lately, I have been writing short stories and a couple of song lyrics in relation to my work. All this might not explain the work in the common sense, but it adds another layer, offers another angle. The good thing was that the more I was trying to find solutions for this lack of words, the more I really did understand my work and working process. I figured out that even though I work mainly through my emotions, there are some rational aspects about it nevertheless. And this made it easier for me to write and talk about my pieces in a theoretic way of course. For the “emotional maker”, this process might take more time, but it is surely worth the effort. After all, working spontaneously, intuitively and through your emotions is also just a concept, which can be pinned down.

So, finally back to Emi’s diploma show (sorry, Emi…). Emi normally prefers not to talk or write about her work, but for this blogpost, Emi agreed to put some aspects of her work into words.

Carina: Why don’t you like to talk about your work?

Emi: I want to ignore everything to do with a concept. Like a child, I emphasize the joyful and playful experiment. I want to be almost out of control, touch the primitive part of me… creation should be free! I want people to be totally open about it when they see my work and maybe find a similarly and free playful approach to it. Curiosity is the most important thing when you make or look at art.

Carina: Tell me a bit more about the pieces that you displayed in your diploma show titled Flow.

Emi: Casting is an important process for me now, and for the diploma show, I focused on the casting of aluminum. I made countless experiments, most of which did not work out. I took much time and risk for that. First, I used wax to create the forms and then built moulds with plaster. Then the metal is cast. I love the process of casting, because it is pure. The metal is poured and structured in the moment. It then emerges in a new shape… like a life itself.

Carina: From where do you get the ideas for your shapes? What inspires you?

Emi: The ideas for my work always come from memories, from something I experienced, a moment of its own life. For example, the ring titled Fragile is about a hurtful memory. I created an organic shape from transparent glass and cracked it to express the feeling of fragility. It was my first attempt in casting glass. I feel there is a lot of potential in this technique for me.

The idea for the necklace Portrait came from a portrait picture of mine. While I was looking at it, I recalled some experiences in my life, positively and negatively. Some chapters of my life. Then I created the necklace with these feelings and memories lingering. I built the shape of it with several wax blocks dynamically to express the accumulation of life experience.

In the brooch titled Flying to… I wanted to visualize the theme of changing and movement. This piece was formed beginning from the ground, grew and then morphed into butterfly-like creatures. The swarm of butterflies imply harmony, movement and the flow of time in space. Then they move to a new world of freedom and destiny. The base of the piece was formed in layers like sediment. It is like a mediator who connects the wearer to society and to the world.

Carina: You are also drawing a lot and you showed one of your drawings in your diploma show. Is drawing a fixed part of your creating process?

Emi: Yes. It is a very important part of my work. I think with the drawings I express another angle of my work, similar to what you do with your songs. My ideas come always from my daily life, and then I draw quickly. I draw normally just some simple sketches with pencil and water colour. A simple process can be more specific and stronger. I feel water colour best suits the way to connect to my jewellery pieces. Drawing with water seems like a pure process to me, similar to the pouring of metal.

Carina: What are your plans for the future?

Emi: I am in Japan now and will probably stay for a year or so. Then I will choose the best place where I should be. I would like to be here in Japan to absorb or re-understand my own culture to develop my work further. I was away for over 10 years and so many things have changed. It shocks me, but it is also nice to experience it.

Carina: Thanks, Emi!

Sool Park wrote a sensitive text for Emi, which she handed out in her diploma show. It starts like this: “Everything flows- even those things, which seem hard and immobile. So, what happens when the hard is flowing? Does it lose its hardness? Or is it rather showing its inner life, which never was hard?”

Emi Fukuda (born in 1980 in Osaka, Japan) graduated in 2013 from the Osaka University of Arts, Japan, as a Bachelor of Fine Arts. From 2007 until 2009, she studied at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, in the gold-and silversmithing department and then from 2012 -2017 at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, Germany, in the jewellery department.

1 Emi Fukuda: Invitation card for diploma show Flow, Photo: Emi Fukuda
2 Emi Fukuda: Diploma show Flow, Munich, 2017; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
3 Emi Fukuda: Diploma show Flow, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
4 Emi Fukuda: Diploma show Flow, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Emi Fukuda: Portrait, Necklace, 2016; Aluminium, string; 6,5 cm x 8,5cm x 1,5 cm; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6 Emi Fukuda: Flying to…, Brooch, 2016; Aluminium, steel wire; 7,0 cm x 5,5 cm x 3,5 cm; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
7 Emi Fukuda: Fragile, Ring, 2016; Aluminium, glass; 3,0 cm x 3,5 cm x 3,0 cm; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
8 Emi Fukuda: Diploma show Flow, Munich, 2017; Photo: Masayuki Nagata
9 Emi Fukuda: Diploma show Flow, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary

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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.

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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(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