In this post you can find all my work since the day I founded my JEWELRYbox magazine on Facebook in 2016 and the day I started my collaboration with KLIMT02 in 2017 to present. The page will be constantly updated. Stay tuned!
PAULO RIBEIRO INTERVIEW
AUGUST 06,2018 JEWELRYbox Magazine
CHARON KRANSEM INTERVIEW
May 28,2018 KLIMT02
Charon Kransen, Contemporary Jewelry dealer. Jury at Athens Jewelry Week 2018
Kat Cole. Necklace. Boundary Lines Shadow, 2017. Steel, enamel.
Photo by Dasha Wright
Charon Kransen is a trained jeweler, a former professor, an art jewelry collector, a contemporary jewelry dealer, founder of Charon Kransen Arts in New York City, one of the most important galleries in the field, an educator, a lecturer and a jewelry book dealer. Needless to say, that because of his different professional roles and his lifelong experience in the field, Charon Kransen has a deep knowledge in all aspects of the contemporary jewelry art. Furthermore, he was a juror at Talente and Schmuckszene in Munich for many years and he was a member of the jury of Athens Jewelry Week 2018. So, what a better chance for me to get to know him through an interview and to find out more about jewelry curating, collecting, and reading.
You have been involved in the jewelry field since 1969 as a jeweler and a jewelry professor and in 1993 you established your gallery in New York. That means you have a lifelong experience in and a deep knowledge of the contemporary jewelry world. How this world was back then and how is now? What changes have been made through the years?
In most places contemporary jewelry was a total new concept. New materials, new ways of wearing jewelry, a much broader definition of adornment in general.
The German word for jewelry is Schmuck which comes from the verb “schmuecken” which means to adorn and in my opinion is a much more accurate definition of the field. Jewelry then could be very easily recognized from its place of origin. Clearly German (technical), clearly Dutch (minimal), clearly American (narrative), clearly Russian (constructivism) etc. etc...
Now everything is global, whether it comes from Australia, Finland, Chile etc. and the differences have mostly disappeared. There is more of a global language. There are exceptions though in places where somehow a specific approach/aesthetic still is visible like in Israel, Estonia, just to mention a few.
Back then there were few possibilities for contemporary jewelry artists. Almost no galleries specializing in this particular direction, hardly any publications, very few exhibitions and very small clientele who would be interested to wear this kind of work. No competitions, hardly any platforms to show this work and very few museum collections, even though that began to change slowly in the seventies.
Your gallery promotes “innovative” and “exciting” "contemporary jewelry”. What makes a jewelry piece innovative and exciting and what is your definition of contemporary jewelry?
Contemporary jewelry is just a word, actually sounds kind of contrived. Jewelry of today. So many terms are used nowadays: modern jewelry, art jewelry, studio jewelry, wearable sculpture, jewelry art, conceptual jewelry, craft jewelry, etc. etc.
After almost 50 years in the field, one might become jaded, like, “oh seen that already” or “that has been done already” or just copies of copies of copies……
Innovative eludes to innovation in concept, innovation in the use of materials and techniques, innovation in personal expression, innovation in wearability etc. etc.
The surprise; the “wow” factor, the expression of just such a great creative mind, which gives you shivers.
You are curator, art-dealer and agent for over 150 international contemporary jewelers (mostly non-Americans) in North-America at various galleries and art fairs.
What elements must a jeweller’s work have in order to be worthy of being represented by your gallery?
I don’t relate to the word “worthy”.
In order to be represented by CKA of course has to do with the quality of the work but also whether this work fits into the aesthetic of the whole collection. Not all work would be a right “fit”. An artist with his/her work needs to feel at home with a gallery and with work of colleagues. The work should be unique and bring an additional element to the collection. We look for a high level of personal expression in the work in general.
Fumiki Taguchi. Brooch, The Expression of White, 2013. Silver, coated with rhodium.
Photo by Tomas Svab
You have juried Talente and Schmuckszene in Munich for many years. You were also a member of the jury of AJW 2018. What are your criteria as a juror? Have these criteria changed through the years? Do they change according to the different demands of each event?
I used to think being a juror was an honor. Maybe it is, but what comes to mind more is that it is very, very hard work. There are so many aspects in judging that need to be taken into account: is the work of good quality, not just technically but also conceptually? Is the work related to the theme of the exhibition/competition as far as there is a criterion? Is the work innovative? Does the work contribute to the overall view of the exhibition/competition/event? I always keep the overall quality in mind.
I judge at titre personnel…I can only look with my eyes and observe, and experience based on what I have encountered in my field over the many years.
You are a trained jeweler, graduated from Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and the Hochchule für Gestaltung in Pforzheim, Germany and at Juhls Kautokeino Norway. What role does the knowledge you have on jewelry techniques play in your criteria for selecting an artist’s work?
Technique like materials used, serve…they serve the idea/concept, so we should not over-emphasize the importance of technique. Of course, a work needs to be well made and not fall apart immediately. The execution of a work should be balanced with the idea.
Do you still make jewelry yourself?
Unfortunately, not… maybe in the future again…
Deborah Lozier. Necklace. Promise #3, 2018.
Enamelon electroformed copper mesh, waxed cotton string, leather cord, waxed linen.
Photo by Deborah Lozier
How people react to the contemporary jewelry shown by your gallery in the art fairs you participate? Do they have the knowledge to understand what it is? Are they willing to buy, or they just look? What questions do they usually ask you about the pieces on show? Is there an interesting story with a client you would like to share?
What we hear mostly is how “refreshing”, “colorful”, “innovative” the work looks. Most people know the traditional jewelry field; they recognize it and it is accessible.
This work enlightens them and at the same time confuses them. Many people just don’t understand it, because they cannot think outside the box.
Once I sold a very expensive necklace to a very proper woman. Money was not an issue. She wore expensive traditional jewelry. She saw the necklace and fell in love. When she told me that she never looks at contemporary jewelry, I told her that this pattern was changed just now. She blushed but left happy, wearing a beautiful necklace. Her husband in a wheelchair rolled his eyes…
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a contemporary jewelry collection?
Read, research, educate yourself and develop a vision as to what and why you want to collect.
In your opinion what need does collecting fulfill?
Very different for different people: show-off, investment, name collecting, status.
For me, educating yourself, stretching your brain, leaving your comfort zone, love, passion…
Liv Blavarp. Necklace. Amazonas. Wood.
Photo by Liv Blavarp
Which are the artists that a collector should look for right now?
What are the 6 jewelers’ names of older times and the 6 of recent years a contemporary jewelry collection should have?
Then: Pavan, Cepka, Jünger, Francoise van den Bosch, Hiramatsu, Tone Vigeland.
Now: Liv Blavarp, Philip Sajet, Stefano Marchetti, Fumiki Tagushi, Iris Bodemer, Daniel Kruger.
Are you a jewelry collector yourself?
A lot of artists are telling me that they usually pay more money than they gain from selling their jewelry. They pay to show their works in galleries. They pay to participate in fairs. They pay to travel to show their works abroad….. But, most of the times they don’t have enough incomes and they need to do other jobs for living. Why is this happening and what artists should do to sell their works and to rely on earning incomes of what they make?
There is a lot of dis-connect between galleries and artists. Most artists have absolutely no idea whatsoever what the costs are a gallery incurs when putting up an exhibition or present themselves at an art fair. Those costs are obscene I can tell you…
I don’t think an artist should pay to show their work in a gallery, neither do I think they should pay to show at an art fair. To travel to places abroad to show their work, is part of the job and they are responsible themselves to do that. It is what falls under “investing” in one’s own professional practice.
Every artist has made a choice to be a professional artist and not take a 9 to 5 job with a regular paycheck. Every choice comes with challenges and consequences. If you cannot live like that you probably should make a different choice. We all had jobs on the side…
On the other hand, the prices of the contemporary jewelry are extremely high. Why someone would want to pay so much money for a piece of jewelry? What makes a piece of jewelry to be worthy of such money? Is jewelry a good art investment?
One cannot compare the market (and prices) of traditional, commercial, mass- produced jewelry with the market of contemporary jewelry. These are two completely different markets and they hardly have anything in common. Contemporary jewelry prices are not high, compared to anything in the art or applied art field (ceramic, glass, wood, textile etc.). Not sure whether the field of contemporary jewelry is ready for a secondary market quite yet.
Stefano Marchetti. Necklace. Gold, Oxidized Silver, Stainless steel.
Photo by Stefano Marchetti
Also, what I often hear by curators, is that there should be a purpose, a reason why behind making contemporary art jewelry. Is that true? And if so, why is this so important?
In the sixties we wanted to do away with jewelry made for the financial elite, status etc. No more expensive materials, no precious metal, no gems etc. Jewelry should be accessible to everybody. Multiples were developed, cheaper materials were used, but did we really understand what the purpose of this “new” jewelry really was? Not really and it took time to understand what the essence of this new work was about.
Contemporary jewelry is an art form. It uses this medium/format to tell as in all art.
Whatever label we use or whether it is design, craft or art, is really irrelevant.
It educates, it confronts, it communicates, it confuses, it transforms…
Apart from being a gallerist you are also a lecturer, and you travel around the world doing seminars. For the past 20 years you have been lecturing on contemporary jewelry and giving master-classes to students and professionals in the USA, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.Your seminar is entitled “Develop your own script: An inner journey attempting to bring to light all pre-constructed beliefs and fears that block the evolvement of individual Makers both personally and professionally”. Could you please name the most important pre-constructed belief and the biggest fear that block the evolvement of individual Makers?
Old internalized messages/voices of parents, family, environment, all telling you for many reasons, that you have no talent and that being an artist in not a real job and will never make money and that it is only good as a hobby. They limit, they paralyze, and they destroy your dreams and your passion. Voices will always be there, but we can decide not to listen to them anymore.
Ramon Puig Cuyas. Brooch.
Photo by Ramon Puig Cuyàs
Your gallery doesn’t show only jewelry but books as well. I think you are the only gallerist to do this. The jewelry book and catalogs lovers swear by you! You have been the official bookseller of the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) for the past 25 years and in 2015 your book collection won the Best of Manhattan Award Program in the Books category. How did you become a book/catalog dealer in the first place?
From when I started to work in this field and also started to teach, I always collected publications in our field even though mostly they were thin catalogs/brochures at the time. Over time we have seen the publications of so many more and substantial titles.
I never planned to be a bookseller, but it just happened kind of organically. People saw the books and publications I collected and wanted them and that is how it started. Now it has just mushroomed, and I believe I carry about 2000 titles. It helps educate people and myself and know what goes on in my field globally.
Mirjam Hiller. Brooch, Tufton. Stainless steel, Powder coating.
Photo by Mirjam Hiller
I am the founder of Jewelry books club on Facebook. Would you please tell me which 10 jewelry books would you suggest someone beginner in the field to read to get inspired from?
Jewelbook – Int. Annual of Contemporary Jewel Art.
Nsaio6 - New Jewelry from Idar Oberstein.
Contemporary Jewellers Interviews.
The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques.
Also please give me a list of the 10 best-seller books of 2017-2018 and a list of the 10 best-seller books of the last decade.
10 best-seller books of 2017-2018:
Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective.
Thinking Jewelry: on the way towards a theory of jewelry.
Marjorie Schick Wearable Scuplture.
Professional Jewelry Making Revere.
10 Years of Precious Thoughts, voice of the artists.
Nsaio6 - New Jewelry from Idar Oberstein.
Castle in the Air, Ohuloss.
Daniel Kruger between nature and artifice.
Murmuring Hanna Hedman.
10 best-seller books of the last decade:
To the Point, pin mechanisms and brooch back design.
Behind the Brooch, A closer look at back, catches and pin stems.
Clasps 4000 years in Jewelry.
Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective.
Jewelbook–Int. Annual of Contemporary Jewel Art.
Monica Cecchi. Necklace. Oro Sweet Oro.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli
About the Interviewed
Charon Kransen is a trained jeweler, graduated from Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and the Hochchulefür Gestaltung in Pforzheim, Germany. When he moved back to Holland after graduating, he became head of the Jewelry Department at the Art College Amersfoort and a couple of years’ later head of the Enamel Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Utrecht. He worked part-time for Gallery Ra and he was president of the Organization of Dutch Jewelry Designers for a number of years. When he moved to New York in 1989 he became contemporary jewelry dealer and in 1993 he established Charon Kransen Arts, in order to promote exciting jewelry from around the world in North America. The work is presented annually at various American art fairs, such as SOFA New York, SOFA Chicago, SOFA Santa Fe and Art Palm Beachand the Int. Art and Design Fair in New York and at select galleries specializing in contemporary crafts and design.
As a private dealer, Charon Kransen Arts welcomes individuals, collectors and museums to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The collection consists of jewelry, hollowware and accessories by both renowned and emerging artists, whose work may be found in museum and private collections around the world.
The educational branch of Charon Kransen Arts includes lectures and seminars throughout the USA, Europe, Australia and South America and the distribution of books and exhibition catalogs on all aspects of jewelry, metal and design.
MATT LAMBERT INTERVIEW
May 23, 2018 KLIMT02
Matt Lambert. Invited Artist at Athens Jewelry Week 2018
The first time I saw Matt Lamberts’ work was on the Athens Jewelry Week 2018 Facebook promo post announcing that Matt would be the invited artist of this year’s event. The question that came then to my mind was: “What this work has to do with jewelry?” A few days later, I was asked by Anticlastics to interview Matt.
To prepare the questions of the interview wasn’t an easy task. Matt Lambert’s work wasn’t familiar to me, so I had to do a lot of research on the artist and the oeuvre only to discover how powerful this work is and how many different perceptions of this art can be, offering the viewers a window from which to see things, to see the world around them in a totally new way and to attribute their own meaning to this art.
I must admit that in the beginning I was very confused, and a lot of thoughts crossed my mind for a couple of days trying to decode Matt’s work. For me it was like solving a puzzle, a game that I love since I was a child, because it intrigues my mind. Exactly like Matt’s work does! And then one day, I woke up, I took some photos of Matt’s work that had stuck in my mind the previous night, I put them in order, in the order that I chose based on my own perception and …voila! Once the icons of the puzzle were fitted together, everything made sense. Now is your turn. Join me in this mind game through my interview and discover Matt Lambert’s intriguing world of adorned nude bodies and queer identities, "which pushes the preconceptions and possibilities of jewelry and adornment as traditionally understood, opening up a variety of conversations".
You are a multidisciplinary artist invited by AJW 218. Could you please introduce yourself and describe your work to the Greeks and generally those who aren’t familiar with your art?
I am a nomadic maker based in Detroit. I have what you could call a unique constellation of academic training in psychology, art history, cultural studies as well as multiple artistic mediums. I also have apprenticeship-based training in leatherworking and semi-antique rug restoration. This has set me up to have a broader interest in gender construction, body adornment and body politics/representation. I largely approach these things through a process of research that is then sieved through personal narrative. I am interested in pushing the preconceptions and possibilities of jewelry and adornment as traditionally understood. Adornment has the ability to blur the fields of design, craft, fashion, and art—and through inhabiting queer and/or liminal spaces adornment has great strength.
As far as I know this is the first time you will show your work in Greece. To my eyes your work is not a digestible one. How do you believe Greek audience will react? How viewers of your work usually react?
I am more curious as to why you don’t find my work digestible? Often my work has the ability to be glossed over as something beautiful but there is also the option to sit and pick it apart from many different angles. I don’t want to force someone to choose, it is up to them to meet me half way to both learn new things. There really isn’t a typical reaction, the thing that is important is that it is causing a reaction. I would never want to make things that don’t evoke some kind of response. Even a negative response is still making someone feel something.
On the promo poster of AJW one can see one of your works which is about a naked person who looks forward and seems ready to start a race, wearing a headpiece that covers the face and the head down to the neck.
What this work is about, and what has to do with jewelry?
AJW approached me to be featured as they were interested in my multidisciplinary practice. I use jewellery as a home, a starting point to make all of my work. My work deals a lot with sport and body movement. That image is part of a practice I developed while in residency at IASPIS in Stockholm Sweden through Instagram of quick selfie images playing with these sport poses. It is AJW that found a connection through that particular image which is what happens with my work. Different people find different connection with it and can extrapolate their own narratives. This exercise has also caused an interesting situation where viewers are not sure what is actual work. This digital platform is helping me to question what can be considered work and further blur lines of definitions. I can post an image of myself in an installation while an institution can hang the same work the same way or change it slightly and you are left to wonder where I actually am in all of this. It further shifts ideas of linear time and geography.
Installation Image (left). During OPEN 2017 Stockholm Sweden.
Courtesy of IASPIS.
Body Mapping (right). As installed at IASPIS Stockholm.
Photographer: Matt Lambert.
Why do you show your work only on male bodies? Are these men close to you (friends, family) or unknown models?
There is a big assumption that those models identify as males or use those pronouns. Gender is not just through physical appearance, I tend to work with masculinity, but it is not the imagined male-female binary that interests me. I avoid using gender pronouns unless the person informs me of their preferred pronoun I also avoid using them on myself as well. I have used bodies that have a female identified form at times, but I find it a bit difficult at this time to put work on anyone’s body but my own. I also do not use professional models, anyone you see in an image is someone who is close to me in my personal life. I usually do not assign them work I let them pick things they want to put on and we just have fun. We usually have food and music playing and have a conversation about experiences that pull the emotions you see out. Those that have posed before know- how this works and it’s quite enjoyable to see them look at things for the first time and say “this one is mine”. We can then talk about why they connect with it and pull that out in the images we make.
The bodies showing your work are always naked. What role does nudity play in your work? Is your intention to show the vulnerable or the sexual side of the naked body, or both?
Nudity aside from my work on a body allows for the questioning of what the work is. Is it fashion, performance, design, earlier images with clothes look more like adds for the denim jeans they are wearing. By removing most of the objects from the images a different conversation is had that becomes more complex through simplification. My work does have a discussion of vulnerability, but it is something that has evolved organically by being myself vulnerable while making this work.
Mask4masc, Performance of Violence.
Photographer: Alyson Williams.
What attracts you to a specific human body to work with? Does the body need to be always fit and healthy to inspire you or you chose this kind of bodies because you put in question the hyper masculine prototype?
Even the concept of visibly looking “healthy” is a construct that implies that there is a visual representation of healthy. The body that I work with is my own. The only time I use another body is when they are familiar with my work and have some sort of presence in my personal life. I used professional models once and everything was just off and felt forced. This image making is a lot of trial and error and learning from it. So, when I say I don’t do something it is very possible I did it at one time, but I have learned from that experience and can only build upon it.
Why do you choose to decorate only the upper part of the body, the neck with statement necklaces and mainly the face with masks and the forehead with decorative extra large and bold headpieces?
My photographic work deals a lot with the history of portraiture, so it seems only logical for me to work with mostly the upper body. I do also make more garment like objects as well and now more recently objects that can support or cover the entire body. I am also of the thought that once I fully understand why, I return to make or work with something that it is time to progress and look at other forms and material.
Your chest should be hard enough and your heart should be soft enough. (left)
Photographer: Jacob Koestler.
(N)one of them #3. (right)
Photographer: Jacob Koestler.
In this new work you cover the face and the body with rugs with bold colors. Would you like to tell me more about this work? Why do you choose rugs and generally home décor elements like upholstery fringes and swags (garlands) to decorate the body? Is there any connection with the notion that the body is the home where we live in?
My work always has an engagement with the decorative arts. I am very interested in when there was such a thing as a world room or rooms where men had their portraits taken to show off all the things that had stolen or “purchased”. Rugs become especially interesting as I learned to repair them learning about patterns, what is valued and their history as a form of currency as well as their function as a fetishized object. It’s the same things as a still life, look how much money I have and how these things are loosing life by just sitting here. But what happens if I queer the room, what if the rug becomes a sports jersey or mirror tile becomes a chest plate. How can these archives be shifted and queered to cause us to re-examine what has been presented. By talking about this ephemerality of the still life it also pulls in the ephemerality of beauty, the body, and youth. There are always facets I begin to see over time which is why reconfiguring objects as I show them is so important.
The rugs I have used are deemed “unrepairable” and thus their creators intent is no longer allowed to function. I also make it a strict point to only use rugs that are produced for a western market, there is a history of changing what once was religious forms often used in prayer rugs to appease western buyers. This is a fascinating thing for me as it kept the industries alive in small villages and cities but was also some form of self-appropriation reconfiguring of signs and symbols out of necessity. There is also this idea of taking the soft decorative elements of the interior and in a way placing them on a body as an exterior. It begins to play with space, the positioning of the body and also gender norms as most of these materials are labelled feminine and being put into masculine scenarios.
I want to emphasize on the masks. Most of your masks are decorated with embroidery or upholstery fringes in a way that they cover the whole face and don’t allow the wearer to see, though generally masks have two holes for the eyes. What is your intention in hiding the wearer’s face expressions from the viewer and the sight from the wearer, having in mind that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, as the old saying goes?
Even a mask with eye holes hides expression. Masks allow for a discussion of interior and exterior. What is internalized and what we choose to show or perform to the exterior. A thread that is found in my work is the protection of the body. By covering the face, it is giving space for that body to exist with some form of anonymity. Anonymity being something rare these days as we are constantly plugged into systems of social media and technology with the gaze of the viewer constantly on us.
Does this mask also stand for the mask society put on us since the day we are born to determine the role each one of us should play through our lives according to the social norms?
If that is what you feel my work does then I am happy that is your connection you make with it.
Photographer: Petr Kurečka.
In therapy, the mask is an image of the self. Does the wearer of the mask better learn the true nature of himself?
I cannot possibly control what a wearer feels or does in my work. This is something that draws me to adornment. You can control everything about the making but once it is released to someone else you have absolutely no control over how it is worn, felt or perceived. A lot of the “work” is in the interaction so sometimes you are just freefalling. This notion has allowed me to show not only as a jeweller or craftsperson but also as a designer, a sculptor, a fashion designer and most recently someone called me a “masker”. I am more interested in blurring the lines of delineation than participating in them.
How do you feel wearing a mask?
There are moments when I just know something is working. When I put on the work and can feel it take on its own life and change my own perceptions. Listening to this gut reaction has served me well. At the end of the day I can try and cram all of the research into my objects but that doesn’t mean it will be felt. I think different masks do different things for me, but it definitely affects a level of power.
I read in KLIMT02 in this excerpt about your work: In his practice, the artist employs the vernacular of masculine sport, specifically those sports that have set formalities for the re-enactment of violence, such as found in fencing.
Most of the masks you create are actually fencing masks. Why do you choose this type of mask in your practice? Why are you so interested in fencing?
Fencing is interesting as is any sport that has a set of rules for how the body should move in space and for its methodology for performing violence. I tend to research sports and war methodology that has a history in white western colonizing societies.
Mask4masc, Performance of Violence.
Photographer: Alyson Williams.
There is a work of yours called Performance of violence which is about a naked person who’s standing still wearing a fencing mask and covering the genitalia with both hands….
The masks title is “untitled” the grouping of fencing masks was titled “performance of violence.” I do not ever show genitalia in my work as I am not interested in having a conversation about it.
...Fencing is about self defence. What the wearer of your mask is defending against and how, though the wearer doesn’t hold any sword but uses the hands to cover the genitalia?
Fencing is a formal set of guidelines of how to kill someone and avoid being killed when you really boil it down. But it is strange as there are rules and I am not sure there are many situations when two people are fighting in real life that the formal rules are going to remain. Many of these sports were aristocratic expressions of masculinity because largely you wouldn’t find a lot of bourgeois or upper-class bodies in actual fighting situations. Fencing is a current interest of mine as it has been used as a form of propaganda to pretend that certain styles have always existed to eradicate the knowledge of another. So, by removing the weapon there is a sense of vulnerability in this image, while the mask signals the need for protection.
Also, in the statement about your Fun and Games exhibition at The Sculpture Center it is written: We are a culture desensitized to, and even entertained by, violence at a time when sensitivity may be what we need the most. It’s just as the old adage goes in its entirety: It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt… then it’s sport.
Sports are about fair play. But your work is not about the fair play but about the violence and the aggression. So how sports are related to your work?
In sport and in older forms of warfare, violence was also attempted to be fair. But you are right a lot of times even with fair intentions things can become one sided. I do not make weapons for assaulting I make tools for protection. The words from The Sculpture Centre are not my own, it is what was written through a discussion by the institution. I am more apt to have others write on my work as I enjoy the perspectives even if they contradict sometimes. I have never been a fan of using my own writing on a wall to explain myself or the work. I see it as a viewpoint but never as an answer.
What is your crucial struggle and what is your way of defending yourself?
My struggle is to maintain conviction to my own self and to not let the thought of an economic market or the idea I need to fit into a specific size display case influence the way I work. I protect myself from this by having some pretty amazing people around to support me when I need it and by developing methods of self care.
Photographer: Danya Ensing.
Your exhibition at Atta Gallery (29.11.2017-08.01.2018) was called A(r) mor: Amor (the Spanish word for love) and Armor. Is love the mince, the armor, to defend against violence, against everyday struggles? But in the same time, isn’t this a utopia?
The title A(r)mor is a play on the idea of protection not only physical but also emotional. I use the physicality of armor as a visual starting point but through images and choices through material and detail can begin to unpack how emotions can also have a dialogue in protection.
My first solo exhibition at Platina in Stockholm was called Chimera which is a mythical creature, an anomaly of two sets of genetics in one form and something fantastical. So there has always been a thread of utopia in my work. If we can not have utopia in making, then where can we have it? This is a large reason why I left working in a research lab; I am not interested in just showing what is found but also the different possibilities from what already exists. This is where ideas of queering archives are really interesting. This method allows me to return to my own history of work and reconfigure it to discover new meanings. Sometimes I become reacquainted with the same piece in many ways depending on its context.
Your headpieces are aggressive and powerful, decorated with antlers or big jaws transforming the wearer into an animal. And there is a work of yours called The Joust where two naked people wearing similar headpieces with antlers are fighting. The harsh reality is that we live in cruel world. Are we actually animals in a constant fight with ourselves and with the others?
If we are not animals what are we?
Installation Image (as Installed at IASPIS Stockholm).
Photographer: Matt Lambert.
How do the necklaces that apparently constitute a body of work of their own, compliment the masks or the headpieces and vice versa? What are the interconnections in your work? Are these necklaces the trophies of the victor of the “animals” fight?
I do not think in series. I am building rooms and the objects I make operate as stand ins for things. Series also implies a linear timeline which is a thought that I do not prescribe to. My work comes from queer perspective which distorts linearity much as many indigenous cultures have always lived. Some of the necklaces are trophies some of them are mounts and chains. My exhibition last year at Gallery Loupeshowed Laurels but your question implies that there is a winner in a fight. I’m not so sure anyone is better for participating, the idea of a winner and a looser is simply a control mechanism that plays into a binary system. When I approach an exhibition, I am making something new to add but I am also using work from very different points of my life to create a new thought or a new room.
Photographer: Matt Lambert.
On your PickAxe series of leather necklaces there is a specific design, a consistent pattern made by crosses that are put the one close to the other forming a kind of flower in between them. The whole design seems like pixels. What do these symbols represent?
That pattern comes from sacred geometry and has found its ways into many circumstances including architecture across many regions of the world. I am interested when and how things are defined as being appropriated and can this be done willingly or is it only done through force or violence. This pattern also can become the mirror and the wall for the rooms I previously mentioned. The name PickAxe comes from a poem by Rumi that talks about sitting in a rented room and mending the same garment over and over and if we dug through the floor boards, we would find shining gem stones. It is about taking time for reflection and to be an understanding witness. To look at ourselves and others with consideration.
Crest (Dear Anette).
Photographer: Matt Lambert.
Here is the statement that accompanied the work at Platina and Loupe:
The material of mirror is investigated by its use in the decorative arts as an element found in a room to alter the feeing of space and as a confrontational device. Physically wearing a mirror confronts others who approach and questions who the work is meant for. The mirror works as armor to deflect and distract from the one who is wearing it but presenting the confronted with their own image. Simultaneously the mirror also draws attention to the physical wearer as an object of bling and its fractal projection of light onto those who surround the wearer. The interaction of physical wearer, and observer turned forced participant creates an additional layer of work where there is the potential for the viewer to also become the “wearer”.
Photographer: Kelsey von Wormer.
And there is another series of necklaces called Raw made of laser cut leather that look like heavy chains. I believe that they might actually be very light. What this contradiction heavy-light is about?
The main issues I find when showing in a jewellery context besides the narrow definition of what we consider to be jewellery is that my work and many others needs to be touched or worn to be fully understood and to fully unpack its function or abilities. This type of work is interesting to me as it terrorizes the Western institution because it can never be completely shown without it being touched which becomes a conservator’s nightmare. So how do you ever show the complete piece when a large component is the interaction as wearer with the object. RAW is a good example of this as it is quite deceiving as it looks extremely heavy or bulky but is actually quite comfortable and as your body heat interacts with it the work conforms to you sometimes to the point you forget it is there. It is about learning and discovering through experience. None of this can be understood however without wearing it. Or maybe I should say that I am yet to find a way to fully experience the work when the work is the act of wearing or interacting with an object. Stay tuned on that one in the future.
Your necklaces are made of leather. Why do you choose to work with leather? Which are the qualities of the leather that inspire you? Is leather for you a connotation of the human skin and the naked body?
I apprenticed for 5 years as a leatherworker it is a material I have developed a complex relationship with. I like using leather as it is a very unforgiving material. Once you make a mark on it, it will always remember it. There is no way to sand, patch or repair a mistake. You are then faced to deal with your actions or to completely restart. This is very much like human interactions, when you make a mistake you either take ownership and try and work through it or you step away. Leather also works well with my concepts as it requires oil to be maintained so as you wear my work you are also maintaining it and your own oils will change the colours making it a part of you and even more unique.
Through your work you question the traditional boundaries of jewelry, and you further challenge what jewelry is. Please give me your definition of jewelry.
Between years at Cranbrook working on a Master in Metalsmithing I was Christoph Zellweger's* assistant in Zurich Switzerland. One of the biggest things I learned from him was that when certain things are made they tell you they need to be on a body and that you can call the things you make jewellery once you say it is so. I feel if you look at the constellation of who I have studied under and worked for my work seems like a natural progression of the things I have learned from such strong makers. I think it is less interesting to define jewellery and see what fits and prefer to look at things and make things and then decide if it is jewellery. Building a definition as I build my practice forces me to remain open and attentive.
(* internationally renowned Swiss artist and professor)
Rostrum loaned to the performance Skirtpower. Courtesy of Platina Gallery.
Photographer: Chrisander Brun.
Choreographer: Carl Olof Berg for Danskompani Spinn.
You collaborate with multi-media artists of a vast array of disciplines such as photographers, performers, choreographers, writers. Why do you complement your work with works from other artistic fields since it is so powerful enough to stand by itself?
I think the bigger question is why not? I learn so much from collaborating. With dancers, choreographers, technically based makers. It places my work in a new arena to see how people perceive my work and to explore the functionalities of my work while still being present to observe and interact. It seems like some may become frustrated with my work as it does not ask or answer a single question. Although I find this way of working relevant it does not interest my own practice. Life is complex and so my work also reflects this. There are many layers of strata so that each time you return to it you may find another angle to look at things. Also, this method of collaboration has a practical side economically; there is very little support financially for large jewellery work at this time so by working with other artists in other fields my work is put in other contexts which allow me to find support within those contexts. Working as an independent maker has had that advantage that I am not tied to one institution or situation where I have to explain my work and how it fits into a field. It allows me a lot more freedom to push things. The downside is I have less support to fall back on if I need it.
To what extent do you believe that your art of adorning (and art generally speaking) can contribute to positive change regarding the issues put in question by the artists and their works?
It can give you space… space to contemplate, to consider and to feel. The gift of time has become increasingly more precious. Wearable work has the unique power to create this space even in the few moments you have between other things such as a train commute or waiting for the doctor to see you, even seeing someone else and how their adornment works, has the ability to evoke a thought or response. You look back on an image wearing something and you can remember what it felt like, how it made you feel, adornment likes to linger. This is a real power in adornment. It marks us even long after it is not in contact with us.
Open your hands if you want to be held - Rumi.
Photograph: Matt Lambert.
What is the work you are going to show in AJW2018?
As I am currently a resident with PRAKSIS’s 9th Residency, Adornment and Gender developed with artist, writer and curator Ben Lignel, in collaboration with Norwegian Craft and engaging with the research Namita Wiggers and Ben Lignel have been doing in Oslo Norway, I am not able to be present to do an impulsive installation responding to the space which is currently my method of working. So, we have decided to show a selection of works and images in a more traditional or formal manner as an introduction to my work. This will then evolve into a more immersive installation during AJW 2019 when I can be present to have a dialogue with attendees. This is also quite effective for me as it plays with ideas of time and location and shows how the reconfiguration or repositioning of objects can change their meanings.
About the Interviewed
Matt Lambert's work pushes the preconceptions and possibilities of jewelry and adornment as traditionally understood. Adornment has the ability to blur the fields of design, craft, fashion, and art-and through inhabiting, queer and/or liminal spaces adornment has great strength. Lambert believes that this aspect has yet to be fully explored as a terroristic act towards Westernized institutions.
Based in Detroit, Lambert holds an MFA in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art with addition to specific university training in craft skills, such as metalsmithing, ceramic, and fiber. Through apprenticeships Lambert has also studied semi-antique rug restoration and leather working. Lambert holds academic training in art history, psychology/human sexuality, and cultural studies from Wayne State University in Detroit MI.
Lambert's work has been collected internationally and shown at venues including: Swedish Center for Architecture and Design (Stockholm, Sweden); Kunstnerforbundet (Oslo, Norway); the Craft Council of British Columbia Gallery (Vancouver, Canada); Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern (Munich, Germany); the Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and the Queer Culture Center (San Francisco, California). In 2017-2018 Lambert was the first international artist based in jewelry/metalsmithing to be invited as a resident at IASPIS the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s programme for visual artists and designers in Stockholm, Sweden.
LUCIA MASSEI INTERVIEW
May 21, 2018 KLIMT02
Lucia Massei. Jewelry Artist & Director of Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School, Jury at Athens Jewelry Week 2018
Necklace: Dopo, 2017
Silver, yellow gold, fine gold, iron, pigments.
Photo by: Federico Cavicchioli
This year, 2018, marks the 20th anniversary of Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence. Lucia Massei, the director and teacher of Alchimia, is celebrating the school’s emerald anniversary by showing in the central exhibition of Athens Jewelry Week 2018 at the Benaki Museum, the works of the team of professors of the school that she founded together with Doris Maninger in 1998. Back then Alchimia was the first contemporary jewellery school in Italy that through the years was mend to be one of the leading international institutions in the field. To add more meaning to the celebration, Lucia Massei is also giving a lecture in Athens entitled Alchimia’s Emerald Anniversary: 20 Years of Education, Art and Adornment.
This event gave me the change to interview Lucia Massei who is not only the driving force behind Alchimia, but also a reclaimed jewelry artist, a master of pigments and gold leaf surfaces on metal, and…a lover of Greece.
Alchimia was founded in Florence in 1998 by you and your friend Doris Maninger. This year, 2018, is the school’s 20th anniversary. What that means to you? How do you feel about it?
I am very happy with the energy we created by working together along with students and teachers through all these years. We have grown together. Nothing would have been possible without having the same goals, without sharing, without working as a team. The atmosphere we have at school is warm, positive it is more of a family.
In 2008 you celebrated the school’s 10th anniversary by organizing the Siamo Qui/We Are Here Event, collaborating with 12 of the world’s best universities in an exhibition held at the Pagliere in Porta Romana, and at a parallel symposium, held in the Palazzo Vecchio, with speakers and participants from all over the world comparing different perspectives on the state of art and dynamic developments in the industry. How do you plan to celebrate the 20th anniversary?
Organizing Siamo qui/ We were here, was a huge effort from the creative, economical and practical point of view, for the small school we were ten years ago. We have had an international visibility and great satisfaction: the goal was to make possible a verbal and visual dialogue between teachers and students from all over the world.
To be in Athens at the Benaki Museum it is a wonderful way to celebrate our 20th anniversary, sharing the work of our team of professors. We are very happy to be invited. We are planning to celebrate Alchimia’s 25th anniversary in the future.
Why did you choose to name your school “Alchmia” in the first place?
“Alchimia”, a name chosen for its symbolism and suggestions: the ancient discipline between science and metaphysics, from which to draw in order to transform the "worthless" in "highest quality" through creative impulse, manual skills, imagination and enthusiasm.
Lucia Massei. Mon Coeur. Brooch, 2009. Silver, iron, fine gold, black spinel, pigments.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.
What is your strongest memory back in 1998, the year you founded Alchimia?
The enthusiasm of starting a project from zero literally from nothing. The challenge of opening the first contemporary jewellery school in Italy. That special kind of energy that you feel when you put all your potential and passion into something you believe in fully. It is hard to describe it in words.
What difficulties did you have to face all this year’s?
Managing a private school without having sponsors it is always complicated. All the time that we have a project in mind we have to deal with what we would like to do and what we can do, it is always the game of finding the right balance with the best quality possible.
What are the elements that made Alchimia a leading international centre for contemporary jewellery through the years?
We have always been very active. Being an independent Institution means to be more efficient in making fast decisions. We got a special attention in constantly evolving our teaching methods, we have an excellent selection of international teachers, and a particular dedication and care for every student as an individual. The school attracts students from all over the world, who follow full academic courses or intensive modules, which creates a big diversity of cultural exchanges, always very interesting when interacting together. A great number of international jewellery artists, art historians, gallery owners and collectors have run courses and seminars over these years. The importance of providing the right atmosphere between teachers and students resulted in a very high quality, with peaks of excellence made evident by many international prized acknowledgements. All these factors have helped to create a network between countries that could connect former students who have established permanent working relationships together over the years.
Lucia Massei. Madama Butterfly. Ring, 2010. 18kt yellow gold, silver, red tourmaline.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.
I read in the school’s website that you are considering establishing a department dedicated exclusively to innovation and research in the future. Could you tell me more about this plan and other future plans concerning the school as well?
At first we thought so, but then, considering the birth of many Fab Lab all around, we opted for a different direction. We recently decided to open a new space exclusively dedicated to our Master’s students in order to give them the ideal conditions to develop their skills and creativity. In this way students can learn how to manage a studio, and to organize themselves in a self-managed space.
To become a prominent jeweller should one have knowledge not only in the jewelry techniques but also in other art disciplines and why?
Alchimia’s objective is to teach students to express their creativity through contemporary jewellery. To reach the point of understanding Contemporary jewellery one has to have the knowledge of what is happening and what has happened in other art disciplines in order to be able to criticize their work, put it in context, and to move on from the conventional.
As a teacher, what is the advice you give your students the first day they come to school and the last day the leave school?
To be curious about everything, to be passionate, not to be afraid of failures and to embraces chances. I always insist on repeating to my students the necessity of never stop studying, reading, travelling, collaborating, work hard and have a vision.
Lucia Massei. Le pietre dure. Necklace, 2017. Silver, yellow gold, lapis lazuli, red and green jasper, ancient epaulettes.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.
If you had to create one single piece of jewelry inspired by your school, what kind of jewelry would it be (necklace, brooch, bracelet, ring, other) and what kind of materials would you chose to make it of?
It would be a very long necklace because of the many elements linked together or a ring because it’s symbolic reasons. Each material treated with care and love would be the right one.
When I think of your jewelry the things that come into my mind are: gold leaf, colour pigments on metal, red and blue. Would you like to tell me more about these characteristic elements of your work?
To use pigments and colours it is what I inherited after studying jewellery for five years at high-school and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. What I use for my pieces are metals, mainly gold and iron, and ancient artefacts recycled. In the last years I was recycling several materials as ancient Italian and Japanese silk, ancient military epaulettes, tin cans, French can-can shoe laces, seventeen century Spanish and English buttons, ancient glass lenses, rosary grains. I think there is poetry in the objects which have lost their original use, and I feel a sense of tenderness for those abandoned and forgotten materials which no longer have a meaning. I feel a kind of respect towards the people who, a long time ago, fabricated them with so much care. Those materials have their story, which I do not know, and which makes them so much more interesting of the new ones. I like to look for them, find them and use them, giving them a new life, another chance. My research has an inner ethical, but also poetic and sometimes ironic, sense.
Your jewelry have a poetic allure. What role does poetry and music play in your work?
Listening to good music, reading, seeing art exhibitions, traveling, are all incentives to my inspiration.
Lucia Massei. Oltre il Mare. Ring, 2017. Yellow gold, row sapphire.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.
I make jewelleries to be able to speak without using words. I read this quote of yours in the article written by Alina Carp back in 2013 in AUTOR website about your work. What do you want to tell the wearer or the viewer of your jewelry, what is the message you want to transmit through your work?
As you mentioned: I prefer my jewellery pieces are talking instead of me. What they are communicating depends from what the viewers are perceiving. When I was studying panting at the Academy of Fine Arts my teacher of contemporary art history told me that when we are in front of something that is catching our attention, whatever we feel is correct and right. I don’t want to give any specific message: the wearers can add what they feel, according to their personal background and sensitivity.
How have Florence and the Florentine Renaissance inspired your work so far?
Living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, an open-air museum, with a very high density of works of art, certainly has an influence on my aesthetic sense. Being born in Italy, belonging to a Mediterranean country had an impact on my character and my way of thinking and perceiving reality.
In the previous Athens Jewelry Week, apart from your work, visitors had the chance to see also works from your students. In this year’s edition that Alchimia is invited you chose to show works from the teachers of the school. Why? Is this decision of yours related to the 20th anniversary of Alchimia?
This is a way to show how we work at Alchimia from another perspective: through the work of teachers we can understand what are the inputs that our students receive.
Lucia Massei. Rosso Consapevole. Bracelet, 2013. Copper, fine gold, pigments.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.
Whose teachers works will be on show?
We will be showing the work of our main tutors and teachers in our academic programs; Lucy Sarneel, Evert Nijland, Sana Khalil, Jorge Manilla, David Clarke together with a selection from our fixed team of former students that have been a main part in our growth, working in Alchimia in diverse courses; Marzia Rossi, Daniela Boieri, Carla Movia, Elisa Deval, Yu-Chun Chen
Since last year you are a member of the jury of Athens Jewelry Week. What were your criteria for selecting the participant artists?
It is difficult to define what catches my attention, there are many aspects that I consider. First of all, a piece should be able to communicate something special to me, even if is something I cannot name. Then I look at the balance between aesthetics and concept, the research behind the material treatment and the technical care in making.
You are visiting Greece quite often for workshops and lectures. What is your opinion about the Greek contemporary jewelry field and what would you advice the emerging artists who want to work in this field in Greece and abroad?
Contemporary jewellery it is something still very new in Greece: to create a market, you need to have Universities where students can have a high education level related to this field and then galleries representing and promoting their work. There have been many interesting projects happening in the recent years in Greece, which I consider a great progress but still, as artist and as educator I think the most important advice I could give to young people is to study for a long time in order to become better and better from both the theoretical and the technical point of view.
Lucia Massei. Africa, papà e io. Necklace, 2007. Shibuichi, yellow gold, fine gold, silk.
Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.
You are also coming to Greece for vacations. What is your favourite place to be in Greece?
Greece is not only a country to me, Greece is a state of mind, my soul home, the place where I feel connected to my roots.
My favorite places in Greece are: Athens, Vergina, Pylos, Mycenae, Kardamili.
Could you recommend a good jewelry book you read lately, and you really enjoyed?
The last catalogue of Iris Bodemer.
Lucia Massei. Kyoto, Brooch, 2009. Silver, yellow gold, fine gold, pigments.
Photo by: Federico Cavicchioli.
About the Interviewed
Lucia Massei studied jewellery and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and achieved meaningful experiences as a freelance designer in the fields of classic jewellery and fashion accessories. In 1998 she co-founded Alchimia.
As a jewellery artist, she had exhibit her work in galleries of contemporary art and museums in international contexts.
Believing in the potential of every individual, and the power of Art, Massei as acting director of Alchimia, has been supporting students and staff in exploring and strengthening their creativity, encouraging their self-expression, providing them with the right space and environment, as well as guiding them towards new possibilities and directions throughout their carrier through her courses.
MARIA MILITSI INTERVIEW
May 15, 2018 KLIMT02
Maria Militsi. Guest Artist & Jury at Athens Jewelry Week 2018
Maria Militsi, the guest artist of Athens Jewelry Week 2018, is a lecturer at the Jewellery Design department of Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts in London and a prominent awarded author whose works can be found in private collections and museums.
Her art is about collecting existing discarded objects of mass production from flea-markets, from the street or the e-Bay, objects that have suffered a loss; the loss of their owner or the loss of their function and giving them a second life and a new identity by filling their empty spaces with new pieces made of silver, gold and diamonds in an attempt to bridge the gap between what the object was and what it now is, to turn unwanted into wanted, and to explore questions regarding the role of function and value.
I really love Maria Militsi’s inspiring versatile art because it embodies the notion of rebirth, and some of her pieces from the Elia’s T series touched me deep inside as they reminded me of my fathers’ objects that I have kept in a drawer after his death. It was a big surprise for me when I first saw this body of work on her website to discover that another man unknown to me could have for example glasses that look like my father’s. And that the missing part could be replaced with a piece in silver that can be worn as a pendant. Somehow, I felt connected to Elias T. and to Maria of course not only because looking at this work it was as if we shared with Maria the same emotions, but also because she is Greek and behind her work, I could trace the origins of her native Greek heritage.
I feel very happy that she let me interview her besides here daily busy routine.
Kikuko (from Floral Studies). Photo by the author.
You are born in Thessaloniki, but you live and work in London. What made you leave Greece to work abroad?
How these two different cultures, the Greek and the English one, have influenced your way of thinking and creating so far?
Both Greece and England are imprinted on the making of my work. I was already in my early 30s when I first came to England to study. My status as a newcomer freed me from my own cultural heritage. It provided me with a kind of a filter between myself and my being. It gave me an enormous sense of freedom to build a language, an attitude away from my culture, to step back and reflect… Now in my late 40s both cultures are an integral part of who I am. My roots and personal history are distilled into my work.
Girl with Guitar (from Floral Studies). Photo by the author.
Girl with Guitar (from Floral Studies). Photo by the author.
You work with found objects and I believe the old saying “One man's trash is another man's treasure” fits in perfectly with your work. What intrigues you the most about this kind of objects?
Somehow when objects are out of context they demonstrate autonomy and that fascinates me. Fragmented, incidental, mostly unspectacular or of dubious taste, objects seem to exist independent of us, offering all kinds of possible meanings and readings…
Does create new from old makes you learn more about your creative power by breaking the boundaries and exploring how far you can go with your work?
An object is not the same in its rebirth. It assumes a new identity that incorporates yet transcends its previous identity. A new piece molded from something old, worthless, defective or of no use embodies an undeniably creative power.
Working with upcycling of items is it your way of contributing to the environmental protection as well? Are you interested in ecology and sustainability?
Absorbing what already exists rather than adding to the world interests me the most… I`m sensitive about how we relate to materiality, how objects are an essential part of life or define us. The excessive production of short-lived disposable items, the human life in the dump and the lack of control over our possessions strongly influence my practice. However, I believe it would be an overstatement to say that I`m contributing to environmental protection.
Ballet to remember. Photo by the author.
Ballet to remember. Photo by the author.
Ballet to remember. Photo by the author.
What is the most peculiar object you have found in your long “hunting down appropriate, evocative objects, researching” and what did you do with it?
An object that found me; a medical gynecological instrument sourced at a flea market and offered to me by Max Warren in 2008, when we were still studying at the Royal College of Art. An odd and suggestive object that now, together with 10 more pieces of the same series, is part of the Crafts Council collection. The series is “choreographed” by a step-by-step guide to ballet published in 1944. BALLET-TO-REMEMBER illustrates a young girl performing positions of ballet. Accordingly, ballet feet as pendants emerge from defunct or overused everyday items.
The House of Elias T. Laddle with gold earrings. Photo by the author.
In your website, there is a presentation of your work based on Elias T. personal objects. It is so interesting work but at the same time, it makes me wonder: Why one would like to wear a piece of jewelry made from an evocative object related to someone else’s life?
I agree that a piece of jewellery emerging from negative space or someone else’s life might appear unappealing, but there is a natural humility in Elia T`s possessions that touched me deeply and I couldn`t resist. These objects gradually started growing in me and it took me 2-3 years to complete the collection - to piece together a narrative from scraps and fragments. This type of work invites one to make their own associations, maybe view it as fellow embodiments of self, reminiscent of something personal, neglected or forgotten.
What I liked the most among your works, are the pieces you have created to feel in the natural holes of the old objects, or the negative space left after part of the object has been broken. What inner need of yours makes you want to fill in the gaps? Is it “kenophobia”, (fear of the empty)? Or is it an intention to bridge the gap between the past, the present and the future and to connect the former owner of the object to the latter one?
The idea of presence and absence, what we call negative objects, and the way that absence can function drives part of what I`m doing - an impulse to work with the residues, or with the negative spaces, the holes, the spaces in between and draw attention to the lack of function that renders an object defunct. According to German philosopher Heidegger when an object breaks down or is misused, it sheds its socially echoed value and becomes present to us in new ways through the suspension of habit. So, when an object can no longer serve its common function it becomes something else - I act upon that in an attempt to bridge the gap between what it was and what it now is.
Bibelot (from Polychroni Sisters). Photo by the author.
Bibelot (from Polychroni Sisters). Photo by the author.
The new pieces you create that fill the empty spaces of the old objects are made of silver, gold and diamonds. Why do you use so precious materials to complement the old objects?
To turn unwanted into wanted.
Your work is full of contradictions: old-new, trash-gold, negative-positive (space), empty-full, male-female (two rings that fit into one another). Are these contradictions a conscious deliberate result in your work or an unconscious one that emerges spontaneously through the creative process?
This constant tension between the object and the space it occupies, between precious and non-precious, attractive and unappealing, is a trigger that causes the development of my work. It`s from an awareness of contrast that ideas are fleshed out…There is intent within the creative process, yet it is in that process that a piece takes on its own life and develops.
I believe your jewelry and art objects carry three different kind of values: an emotional value related to the old objects regarded as vessels of memory, a material value, more related to the newly crafted jewels because of the precious metals and gemstones used, and of course a monetary value too, related to the final piece being intended for sale.
Which value is more important to you? There is an interdependent relationship between all three. I embrace them all.
What makes something valuable? Going through the everyday and real to turn it into something personal and abstract. Stomping through the real to get to the magical.
Is “valuable” synonym to “precious” and vice versa? I believe so.
How would you define “preciousness” and what is precious to you? Turning thoughts into things.
This is Not a Pipe Case. Photo by the author.
This is Not a Pipe Case. Photo by the author.
An old broken object found in a street is characterized as “a trash” with no value. Can the same object shown in a gallery in a totally different context be characterized “a piece of art” of high value?
The idea of the objet trouvé (found object) designated as art or of high value is not new and already widely explored. So yes, it can.
Do you want your works to be regarded as wearable jewelry, collectible pieces of art, or both?
I want my work to be effortlessly communicated regardless a label.
How do people react when they see your works? Do they want to give you their own old objects to make bespoke jewelry or new objects for them?
Yes, there are occasions that people ask me to respond to their own old objects and use them as a point of reference for a new piece.
What is the process you follow in the making of your jewelry, particularly the bespoke jewelry? And which part of the creative process enthusiasts you the most?
I look closely at the person, to what they like and feel comfortable with. Jewellery after all is something personal and intimate. Making something to fit an individual`s taste or mark an occasion is delightful.
Dirty Badges-Buy One Get One Free. Photo by the author.
Dirty Badges-Buy One Get One Free. Photo by the author.
What is the project you are currently working on?
I always work on several different projects at once, as things take time to settle in my head. I have an ongoing project for example based on the urban refuse I collect. Dirty Badges /Buy One Get One Free, where rubbish such as crisp packets and chocolate wrappers are turned into badges, is part of this. The project revolves around a subject of scholarly interest in the 20th century; the Flâneur / Stroller as an emblematic archetype of urban modern experience, epitomizing the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis.
You are the guest artist and one of the lecturers of Athens Jewelry Week 2018. What are you going to show at the central exhibition at the Benaki Museum and what your lecture will be about?
Carpet City – By Appointment Only is work to date and in progress, an intermingling of thoughts and fragmented objects, ideas of domesticity and recovery. It is also the title of the talk as a reference to an Instagram Tag and the work I'm going to show at Benaki. Carpet City, where I live and work, is a flooring warehouse in north London described by Kimberley Chandler - a researcher, writer and editor that I have been in dialogue with for the last year - as a space awash with invention and reverie, a space where unwanted things have cared for. https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/carpetcity_byappointmentonly/?hl=en
About Carpet City – By Appointment Only
Maria Militsi restores and reanimates pre-loved things; so-called “refuse” is her material. She celebrates the faults in things; a thing cast aside she finds fit for repurpose . She pairs her practical knowledge of tools and precious metals with her innate ability to flesh out characters, new stories, and after-lives.
Carpet City, where Militsi both lives and works, is a vast flooring warehouse in Tottenham, north London. This is a space awash with invention and reverie, a place where unwanted things are cared for.
Carpet City – By Appointment Only is a quasi-retrospective: a chance for Militsi to restage, and reflect on her work to date, within the sanctuary of her own space. Works both old and new, highly finished, and ongoing will be interspersed among Militsi’s own belongings, creating a dialogic space that is at once curated and lived in, spectacular and commonplace, purposive and incidental.
/ Kimberley Chandler
SPINK & SON Pin Case. Photo by the author.
You are also a member of the jury of Athens Jewelry Week 2018. What were your criteria for selecting the participant artists?
I tend to respond to work that is inventive, has a sense of purpose and radiates joy in the making. It felt like such an indulgence to come across work that is so diverse and original and I`m looking forward to seeing it in the flesh!
What is your opinion about the Greek contemporary jewelry field and what would you advice the emerging artists who want to work in this field in Greece and abroad?
Nearly a decade after the 2009 Greek government-debt disaster, I believe that Greece is undergoing a creative rebirth. It`s great to see that new platforms are emerging from scratch and that the Greek contemporary jewellery field is an integral part of it - Athens Jewellery Week reflects this. It`s hugely promising and exciting to see emerging artists carving out an identity. Niki Stylianou and Erato Kouloubiare driving forces in the field both as artists and curators, and their involvement with AJW inspires so many people to create new work and be connected to the international jewellery scene and a wider audience.
As for advice, enjoy what you are doing and embrace mistakes, would be my words to emerging artist who want to work in this field.
About the Interviewed
Maria Militsi trained at the Mokume School of Jewellery in Greece before gaining a BA (Hons) in Jewellery from Middlesex University (2006) and an MA from the Royal College of Art (2008). Soon after she established her own art-jewellery practice. Since 2012 she has been a lecturer at the Jewellery Design department of Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts in London.
AKIS GOUMAS INTERVIEW
Jan 29, 2018 KLIMT02
Akis Goumas: in search of the prehistoric craftsman
He tames the fire with love, dedication and patience.
He melts the metal slowly and methodically.
He creates contemporary artworks, jewelry and objects, of excellent craftsmanship, which reflect his deep knowledge of the ancient jewelry techniques.
He has been acquiring this knowledge through his multi-annual research and his collaboration with archaeologists and museums in a constant search of the prehistoric jeweler .
He is now sharing this knowledge to the new generation of jewelers through training courses and workshops.
Akis Goumas is a very skillful contemporary jewelry artist based in Athens and a teacher at the Chalkis Jewellery School-Eric Robbert in Chalkida, Greece.
I had the chance to interview him while a short “stop” in his long journey through time from prehistoric era to present. He talked to me about his work, he revealed me the secrets of his art and he opened me the door of the Mycenaean jewelry workshops to meet his prehistoric colleague.
Modular culture. Necklace, leather silver, steel, bone wood tortoise shell, pigments. Photo by V. Xenias.
You are a jeweler and researcher of the prehistoric jeweler. When and how did you get involved with this research in the first place?
Since late ‘70s to ‘80s, I have resolved that my interest lies in studying and creating jewelry. I felt the need to move forward but at that time I was still searching for the “how to”. I was fortunate to meet important people who showed me the way. My theoretical and technical knowledge was complemented by art history studies, readings in the museum libraries and exploring their showcases.
Since that time the museums of “Benaki”, “Cycladic art” and the “National Archaeological Museum” became not only familiar but also intimate and creative spaces for me. In 2000 I had my first contact with excavation material at the National Archaeological Museum when the archaeologist Elena Stamatatou instructed me to study a small collection of Mycenaean seal-stones for her diplomatic work.
What is the chronological period your research is concentrated on?
I am interested mainly in the prehistoric period. It is the time when silver and gold appear for the use on jewelry and goldsmithing techniques in the Aegean region and the Greek mainland. I am interested in understanding how this knowledge has spread from the East, Egypt, and Crete and how it has been utilized in the various regions by different craft unions and craftsmen.
What is your research methodology?
I participate in a small research group of archaeologists who share the same vision with me. The members of this group are Eleni Konstantinidis, the curator of the prehistoric collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Greece, and Nikos Papadimitriou the curator of the Museum of Cycladic Art in Greece. The methodology is defined by them. The stages we follow are: study, observation with lenses and stereomicroscopes, experimentations and laboratory testings in the laboratories of Demokritos (Greek National Center of Scientific Research).
I'm studying the scientific publications that the archaeologists give me, I'm experimenting a lot and I think even more. There are small details that may require months of study and experimentation, like the simple act of cutting a sheet of metal with a bronze tool, up to complex soldering and deposition techniques.
Inner. Pendant / Object, Brass, glass (by Marion Fillancq) pigments, leather. Photo by V. Xenias
I remember the lecture you gave during the 1st Athens Jewelry Week entitled “Searching for the prehistoric craftsman”. Why is more important to you to find the man behind the techniques rather than to simply understand the ancient jewelry techniques?
A technique is not developed by itself; it arises from the craftsman’s need to express himself and to solve technical problems while expressing the essence of his time (although he probably was not aware of that). It is a form of language for him.
When visiting a museum with ancient works of art, we usually admire all these important works but we don’t get any information about their creator. All these artworks were made by craftsmen, unknown artists who are not even mentioned. We admire the works as if they were made by themselves. This thought resulted in the need to know as much as I could for those unknown creators, to discover the knowledge they possessed, their tools and possibly the ways they thought, worked and lived. When I met N. Papadimitriou at the Museum of Cycladic Art, what I dreamed became a reality. He gave me the opportunity to start this study systematically.
How do you try to meet the prehistoric jeweler, how close to him have you got so far and what are the most important things you have learned about him up to now?
We are living in an era of easy access to information and communication technology, where everything happens with just the touch of a button. Our basic needs are covered and we often invent other needs to keep us busy.
We are so far away from the living and working conditions of the prehistoric craftsmen, we know so little for them and it is difficult to make comparisons.
So, in order to say that I start to comprehend some of their aspects, I don’t just need a lot of studying. I need to let go of my own modern criteria and to see their works putting on a set of fresh eyes and a fresh mind. Sometimes I feel that somehow I approach the way that something was made and I start to understand it, but I always rely on speculations and personal views which in the future could be overturned by other scholars. Our knowledge is based on assumptions.
I constantly learn about how different their life was but I realize how many puzzle pieces we miss to comprehend how their life was. For example, one of the things we do learn is that the technicians were working collectively, every artisan of the team was good at some aspect of the craft and through repetition, he improved his technique. But in general, I feel my knowledge is truly limited. In our society, we tend to acquire knowledge from reading and not so much through observation and experience, which for them were the main sources of knowledge.
Based on the ancient techniques how easy or how difficult is to make the exact same ancient jewelry and why? And how long does it take to reproduce an ancient piece?
We cannot copy an artifact precisely, as we know very little about the ancient craftsman, the ways he worked and the environment he was working in. If we just aim to reproduce it, we will create the pieces in our own way but then we will not understand anything about the history and we will not comprehend the ancient process.
I will give you an example: The basic act of utilizing the fire to solder a piece of jewelry is something that we do not know the exact “how to”. If we will use the contemporary technology of the torch for the soldering, then the process and the result will be similar to the ancient one, but the essence of it will be completely different. In my studies, I do not try to imitate the ancient craftsman, I do not want to, I just want to know him and learn from him. And as I approach him, I sense a knowledge and experience that is centuries old and that he possesses, merged with his own experience. When I try to recreate some specific artifacts or parts of them, it is through the process of several attempts that I understand something about the ancient craftsman and his abilities.
As far as construction time is concerned, it is very difficult to identify it. To learn something that he did, I have to experiment a lot, to make comparative studies and then to proceed to the final implementation. For example, to learn how to build the Mycenaean button (a research that was part of the international traveling exhibition “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” that was held in the US (2014-2016), I needed months of experimentation and testing with tools and materials.
Primal Beauty. Bracelet, Brass, glass (by Marion Fillancq), pigments.
How has the knowledge you have acquired so far about the ancient jewelry techniques affected your creative process and the materials you use? How did you use to work before and how do you use to work after your research?
My work has been greatly influenced. My classic jewelry perception as well as aiming for the technical excellence slowly changed to a different approach, I started appreciating the memory of the materials, of the techniques, of the emotions. Now I am interested in expressing time, in giving importance to the trace, to the feeling, even to what is called “mistake”.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
Metals are interesting materials, their properties are stimulating, (like the difficulty of forming and shaping that they have), but I also work with many other materials, both natural and artificial. I avoid materials that harm us and the environment. Every material has its own character and it is important for me to learn from its characteristics and respect them.
Is it true that you are making yourself the jewelry tools you’re using based on those of the prehistoric jeweler?
To be able to understand the prehistoric craftsman, I need to know about his tools, how he made them, their materials and their shape (which was formed through necessity). I believe tools were made in a simple but effective way, so I try to have the same approach. I am so influenced by this process that I started making tools for my personal, contemporary work because they serve my needs better and more efficiently.
Organic Symmetry. Necklace, Silver, copper, PVC, steel, silk thread, pigments.
You take the knowledge from the past to create contemporary jewelry. Going from past to present is a long journey. How do you elapse time and what is the biggest challenge you have to face?
It is probably the most difficult part of this study. What do you do with all this acquired information, how do you handle it, how do you manage it since the way of comprehending things in the times that we live in, is so totally different from the past. It is a great challenge to make the old knowledge understood and try to utilize it in the modern jewelry today.
Studying the past influences the essence of the present things, it happens so slowly but it is evident in the contemporary jewelry, in my present work.
And I am even more interested and focused on spreading the knowledge we acquire from all this study, to share it, to make it understood and useful. The teaching and the seminars we are doing are part of this effort.
I know that with the archaeologists you work with, you are planning to build a website dedicated to your research. Is that true and when is expected to be online?
What our group desires is to make this knowledge open to everyone. We do not own what we discover, we learn so we can share. Of course, we need time and the right structure to be able to do this, to have the result that we want.
In your work, significant and supplementary role plays the draw. You always show your jewelry pieces alongside your draws that are literally works of art. Did you ever take drawing lessons or are you self-taught?
Drawing is like a language to me, I feel that I learned it the same way I learned to speak and to communicate. I have been drawing since I was a toddler. It making me capable to describe something that I would otherwise need a lot of words to explain. Drawing creates images that help us understand; help us be part of something else. These images are part of my jewelry, they can show my path, and they are reflecting thoughts and ideas.
Natural Wonder. Brooch, Steel, leather, wood, glass (by Marion Fillanq), pigments.
Showing alongside jewelry and drawings is like a story narration. And your book “Paths of knowledge and techniques in Jewelryland”/ «Μονοπάτια γνώσεων και τεχνικών στην Κοσμηματοχώρα» 2012 editions LULU (available only in Greek) is written like a tale. Why is the narration so important to you?
I'm interested in having a story and a narrative behind my work. It is the basis where I develop it and I can observe it from different points of view. It also forms a basis for the observer to develop his own narrative, which can be different from mine.
In 2016 I attended your workshop at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens (Greece) about the prehistoric jewelry techniques and in 2017 the same workshop at the British Archaeological School in Athens (Greece). I will always remember the moment the lights were turned off, nobody was talking or moving and all eyes were on you. It was the moment you had a blow pipe in your mouth and you had been trying to tame the flame of the fire through your breath so as to melt the gold and make a granule. You were totally concentrated on that process as if there were only you and the fire in the world.
It was a moment of pure mystagogy!
Please describe me your feelings at that moment and tell me:
Is the taming of fire the most crucial, the fundamental stage of the creative process for a jeweler and why?
Since ancient times to the present day fire has always been man’s most important tool. Fire is life. For the craftsman, it is both a tool and a soul. When I work the fire with the blowpipe, I learn how to control it, in order to have the desired result. If I don’t concentrate then I cannot understand it and use it. In many ways, it's like learning a wind instrument. One understands the right technique by the perception of the sound.
What are your next plans regarding your work?
I think that 2018 will be an important year.
I'm preparing a new body of jewelry work which I plan to show in 2019 and I will also take part in some group exhibitions.
At the same time, I am working on an exhibition about Hellenistic jewelry that will take place at the Benaki Museum, at about the end of 2018. I collaborate with Dr. E. Papageorgiou, an archaeologist, and curator of the museum, and with the Benaki preservation team, to show the public how some of the Hellenistic jewelry was made. We will have videos, drawings and will also exhibit the tools that I used for constructing these jewels. For this exhibition, I have been working for about two years.
Furthermore, my “prehistoric team” of the two archaeologists and I, we are now completing a study of a rare Mycenaean technique, called the "gold - embroidery". A small number of objects were created with this technique, mainly sword handles. We believe that the technique was used in special workshops and by master craftsmen. We plan to make a video too, to document this study and the application of the technique.
About the Interviewed
Akis Goumas is born in Greece and lives in a suburb near Athens, were he has his workshop. After his diploma in economics he was trained as a jeweler and silversmith ( Koilourgos-This word describes in the Mycenaean Linear B script, the craftsman who creates hollow forms by hammering). He is a member of the Greek Chamber of Fine Arts. Since 1989 and for more than 15 years he was the designer for ONAR S.A. (jewelry and object company). Since 2000 he has been teaching creative jewelry in Chalkis jewelry school, which is a department of Chalkis Art School. In the last 15 years he has participated in more than 25 exhibitions in Greece and European countries. Since 2006 he is a member of a team of archaeologists studying and researching prehistoric metal technologies of the Aegean region, collaborating with the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art. His late works are very much influenced by this research and some of them belong to private or museum collections.
Ελληνική έκδοση - Greek version
Δαμάζει τη φωτιά με αγάπη, αφοσίωση και υπομονή. Λιώνει το μέταλλο αργά και μεθοδικά. Δημιουργεί σύγχρονα έργα μικροτεχνίας, κοσμήματα και αντικείμενα, που μαρτυρούν τη βαθιά γνώση του στις πανάρχαιες τεχνικές αργυροχρυσοχοΐας. Γνώση που πηγάζει από την πολυετή του έρευνα και τη συνεργασία του με αρχαιολόγους και μουσεία στην αναζήτηση του προϊστορικού τεχνίτη, την οποία μεταδίδει στη νεότερη γενιά μέσα από σεμινάρια και εργαστήρια.
Ο Άκης Γκούμας είναι ένας δεξιοτέχνης δημιουργός σύγχρονου εικαστικού κοσμήματος και δάσκαλος στο τμήμα κοσμήματος Eric Robert του Εργαστηρίου Χαλκίδας.
Σε μια σύντομη «στάση» στο μακρύ ταξίδι του από την προϊστορία στο σήμερα, μου μίλησε για το έργο του, μου αποκάλυψε τα μυστικά της τέχνης του και μου άνοιξε για λίγο την πόρτα στα εργαστήρια της μυκηναϊκής εποχής προκειμένου να μου συστήσει τον προϊστορικό συνάδελφό του.
Είστε δημιουργός σύγχρονου κοσμήματος και ερευνητής του προϊστορικού κοσμήματος. Καταρχάς πώς προέκυψε η ενασχόληση σας με την έρευνα;
-Από τα τέλη της δεκαετίας ‘70-‘80 είχα μέσα μου ξεκαθαρίσει ότι θέλω να ασχοληθώ με τη μελέτη και τη δημιουργία κοσμημάτων. Αισθανόμουν την ανάγκη να βρω μια άκρη για να ξεκινήσω.
Είχα την τύχη να γνωρίσω σημαντικούς ανθρώπους που μου έδειξαν τον δρόμο. Οι θεωρητικές και τεχνικές γνώσεις συμπληρώνονταν από ιστορία της τέχνης και μελέτη στις βιβλιοθήκες των μουσείων και στις προθήκες τους.
Από τότε τα μουσεία Μπενάκη, Κυκλαδικής Τέχνης και μερικές από τις συλλογές του Εθνικού Αρχαιολογικού Μουσείου έγιναν για μένα χώροι οικείοι και δημιουργικοί.
To 2000 είχα την πρώτη μου επαφή με ανασκαφικό υλικό στο Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο, συγκεκριμένα με μυκηναϊκούς σφραγιδόλιθους, όταν μου ανέθεσε η αρχαιολόγος Ελίνα Σταματάτου να μελετήσω μια μικρή συλλογή για τη διπλωματική της εργασία.
Σε ποια χρονολογική περίοδο εστιάζει η έρευνά σας;
-Με ενδιαφέρει κυρίως η προϊστορική περίοδος. Είναι η εποχή που βρίσκουμε ότι χρησιμοποιούνται ο χρυσός και ο άργυρος για την κατασκευή κοσμημάτων και αντικειμένων στο Αιγαίο και την ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα. Με ενδιαφέρει να καταλάβω πώς ήρθε η γνώση από την Ανατολή, την Αίγυπτο και την Κρήτη και πώς εφαρμόστηκε στις διάφορες περιοχές από τα εργαστήρια και τους τεχνίτες.
Ποια είναι η μέθοδος που ακολουθείται στην έρευνά σας;
-Είμαι μέλος μιας μικρής ομάδας αρχαιολόγων που μοιραζόμαστε το ίδιο όνειρο. Από το Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο είναι η Ελένη Κωνσταντινίδη, επιμελήτρια της προϊστορικής συλλογής και ο Νίκος Παπαδημητρίου, επιμελητής του Μουσείου Κυκλαδικής Τέχνης.
Τη μεθοδολογία την ορίζουν οι αρχαιολόγοι. Τα στάδια είναι: μελέτη, παρατήρηση με φακούς και μικροσκόπια, πειραματισμοί και εργαστηριακοί έλεγχοι στα εργαστήρια του Δημόκριτου. Μελετώ επιστημονικά δημοσιεύματα που μου δίνουν οι αρχαιολόγοι, πειραματίζομαι πολύ και σκέφτομαι ακόμη περισσότερο. Υπάρχουν μικρές λεπτομέρειες που μπορεί να θέλουν μήνες μελέτης και πειραματισμού, όπως το πιο απλό, το κόψιμο ενός φύλλου μετάλλου με ένα μπρούτζινο εργαλείο, μέχρι σύνθετες τεχνικές συγκόλλησης και επίθεσης υλικών.
Θυμάμαι τη διάλεξή σας στο πλαίσιο της 1ης Athens Jewelry Week. Είχε τον τίτλο: «Αναζητώντας τον προϊστορικό τεχνίτη». Γιατί είναι πιο σημαντικό για σας να ανακαλύψετε τον άνθρωπο πίσω από τις τεχνικές, από το να κατανοήσετε απλώς και μόνο τις αρχαίες τεχνικές κοσμηματοποιίας;
-Μια τεχνική δεν υπάρχει από μόνη της, προκύπτει από την ανάγκη ενός τεχνίτη να εκφραστεί, να δώσει λύσεις σε προβλήματα τεχνικά και μαζί με αυτά να εκφράσει και την εποχή του (αυτό πιθανόν δεν το γνώριζε). Είναι για τον τεχνίτη μια μορφή γλώσσας.
Επισκεπτόμενοι ένα μουσείο, συνήθως θαυμάζουμε έργα σημαντικά, αλλά δεν μαθαίνουμε κάτι για αυτόν που τα έκανε.
Όλα αυτά τα έργα έγιναν από τεχνίτες ή καλλιτέχνες άγνωστους για τους οποίους κανένας δεν δίνει κάποια πληροφορία. Θαυμάζουμε τα έργα τους σαν να έγιναν από μόνα τους. Αυτός ο προβληματισμός μού δημιούργησε την ανάγκη να μάθω όσο μπορώ περισσότερα γι αυτούς τους άγνωστους δημιουργούς, τις γνώσεις που κατείχαν, τα εργαλεία τους και πιθανόν τους τρόπους που δούλευαν και ζούσαν. Όταν γνώρισα τον Νίκο Παπαδημητρίου στο Μουσείο Κυκλαδικής Τέχνης , αυτό που ονειρευόμουν άρχισε να γίνεται πραγματικότητα. Μου έδωσε τη δυνατότητα να αρχίσω συστηματικά αυτήv τη μελέτη.
Πώς προσπαθείτε να «συναντήσετε» τον προϊστορικό τεχνίτη, πόσο κοντά του έχετε φτάσει μέχρι σήμερα και ποια είναι τα πιο σημαντικά πράγματα που έχετε μάθει γι αυτόν;
-Ζούμε σε μια εποχή με ευκολία στη γρήγορη πληροφόρηση και στην επικοινωνία. Οι βασικές μας ανάγκες είναι καλυμμένες και εφευρίσκουμε άλλες για να έχουμε να ασχολούμαστε.
Για τις συνθήκες ζωής και εργασίας των προϊστορικών τεχνιτών γνωρίζουμε πολύ λίγα και είναι δύσκολο να γίνουν συγκρίσεις.
Έτσι, για να πω ότι κάτι καταλαβαίνω, χρειάζομαι αρκετή δουλειά, να ξεχάσω τα δικά μου σύγχρονα κριτήρια και να δω τα έργα τους με άλλη οπτική. Κάποιες φορές μπορεί να πλησιάζω τον τρόπο με τον οποίο έφτιαχνε ένα αντικείμενο και να τον καταλαβαίνω, αλλά πάντα στηρίζομαι σε εικασίες και προσωπικές απόψεις που κάποια στιγμή μπορεί ένας άλλος να τις ανατρέψει. Στηριζόμαστε σε υποθέσεις.
Αυτό που συνέχεια μαθαίνω είναι το πόσο διαφορετική ήταν η ζωή του και το πόσα πολλά δεν ξέρουμε. Μαθαίνουμε ότι δούλευε ομαδικά, κάθε τεχνίτης της ομάδας ήξερε κάποιες δουλειές και μέσα από την επανάληψη τις βελτίωνε. Επίσης αυτό που νιώθω είναι το πόσο ελλιπής είναι οι γνώσεις μου. Η γνώση μας έρχεται περισσότερο από το διάβασμα και όχι τόσο από την παρατήρηση και την εμπειρἰα που για αυτούς ήταν οι κύριες πηγές γνώσεις.
Βασισμένος στις αρχαίες τεχνικές κοσμηματοποιίας, πόσο εύκολο ή πόσο δύσκολο είναι να δημιουργήσετε το πιστό αντίγραφο ενός αρχαίου κοσμήματος και γιατί; Και πόσος χρόνος χρειάζεται για την κατασκευή του;
-Δεν μπορούμε να το αντιγράψουμε ακριβώς όπως ήταν γιατί γνωρίζουμε πολύ λίγα για τον τρόπο και το περιβάλλον που δούλευε ο αρχαίος τεχνίτης. Αν το φτιάξουμε, θα το δημιουργήσουμε με τον δικό μας τρόπο και έτσι δεν θα καταλάβουμε τίποτα για εκείνον.
Κάτι πολύ βασικό, π.χ. τη φωτιά, δεν γνωρίζουμε ακριβώς πώς τη χρησιμοποιούσε για να κολλήσει ένα κόσμημα. Εμείς θα το κολλήσουμε με σύγχρονο φλόγιστρο. Η διαδικασία και το αποτέλεσμα θα μοιάζουν, αλλά στην ουσία θα είναι τελείως διαφορετικά.
Στη μελέτη που κάνω δεν προσπαθώ να τον μιμηθώ, δεν θέλω να τον αντιγράψω, να τον καταλάβω θέλω και να μάθω από αυτόν. Όσο τον πλησιάζω, αισθάνομαι ότι έχει μέσα του γνώσεις και εμπειρίες αιώνων αλλά και δικές του. Επιχειρώ να ξαναφτιάξω κάποια χαρακτηριστικά έργα του ή τμήματα αυτών, και μέσα από τη διαδικασία κατασκευής, προσπαθώ να καταλάβω κάτι για τον ίδιο και τις ικανότητές του.
Ως προς τον χρόνο κατασκευής είναι πολύ δύσκολο να τον προσδιορίσουμε. Για να μάθω πώς εφάρμοζε μια τεχνική πρέπει να πειραματιστώ πολύ, να γίνουν συγκριτικές μελέτες και μετά να προχωρήσω στην τελική υλοποίηση. Παραδείγματος χάρη για να μάθω να κατασκευάζω το μυκηναϊκό κουμπί για τη διεθνή περιοδεύουσα έκθεση «Έλληνες. Από τον Αγαμέμνονα στον Μέγα Αλέξανδρο» («The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great») που παρουσιάστηκε στην Αμερική (2014-2016), χρειάστηκα μήνες πειραματισμών και δοκιμών με εργαλεία και υλικά.
Πώς η γνώση και η εμπειρία που έχετε αποκτήσει μέχρι τώρα μέσα από τη μελέτη σας έχει επηρεάσει τον τρόπο που δημιουργείτε τα δικά σας κοσμήματα; Με ποιον τρόπο δουλεύατε πριν και πώς δουλεύετε τώρα;
-Η δουλειά μου επηρεάστηκε σε μεγάλο βαθμό. Η χρυσοχοϊκή αντίληψη που είχα και η τεχνική αρτιότητα έδωσαν αργά-αργά χώρο στη μνήμη των υλικών των τεχνικών και των συναισθημάτων. Επιθυμώ αυτή την εποχή στη δουλειά μου να υπάρχουν ο χρόνος, το ίχνος, το λάθος και το συναίσθημα.
Ποια είναι τα αγαπημένα σας υλικά κατασκευής κοσμημάτων;
-Με ενδιαφέρουν τα μέταλλα λόγω της δυσκολίας πλασίματος και διαμόρφωσης που έχουν, αλλά δουλεύω και με πολλά άλλα υλικά είτε φυσικά είτε όχι. Αποφεύγω τα υλικά που βλάπτουν εμάς και το περιβάλλον. Κάθε υλικό έχει τον χαρακτήρα του. Το σημαντικό για μένα είναι να μαθαίνω τις ιδιαιτερότητές του και να τις σέβομαι.
Είναι αλήθεια ότι κατασκευάζετε ο ίδιος τα εργαλεία που χρησιμοποιείτε για τη δημιουργία των κοσμημάτων σας βασισμένος στα εργαλεία του προϊστορικού τεχνίτη;
-Για να μπορέσω να καταλάβω τον προϊστορικό τεχνίτη, είναι απαραίτητο να μάθω για τα εργαλεία του, πώς τα έφτιαχνε, ποια ήταν τα υλικά τους και το αναγκαίο σχήμα τους. Πιστεύω ότι τα έφτιαχνε με τρόπο απλό αλλά αποτελεσματικό. Επηρεασμένος από αυτές τις διαδικασίες, προσπαθώ να φτιάχνω και κάποια από τα εργαλεία που χρησιμοποιώ στις σημερινές μου κατασκευές γιατί με εξυπηρετούν καλύτερα.
Παίρνετε τη γνώση από το παρελθόν για να δημιουργήσετε σύγχρονα κοσμήματα στο παρόν. Η απόσταση που διανύετε είναι τεράστια και μακρύ το ταξίδι. Πώς καταφέρνετε να κάνετε αυτό το ιλιγγιώδες άλμα στον χρόνο και ποια είναι η μεγαλύτερη πρόκληση που αντιμετωπίζετε;
-Μάλλον είναι και το πιο δύσκολο μέρος της μελέτης. Τι το κάνεις το υλικό, πώς το διαχειρίζεσαι, όταν η εποχή που ζούμε είναι ολότελα διαφορετική. Είναι μεγάλη πρόκληση να γίνει κατανοητή η πληροφορία εκείνης της εποχής και να καταφέρουμε να τη χρησιμοποιήσουμε με σύγχρονες μεθόδους στο παρόν.
Αργά-αργά, όμως, ποτίζεσαι με την ουσία των πραγμάτων και αυτό βγαίνει και στο σύγχρονο κόσμημα, στη σημερινή μου δουλειά.
Με ενδιαφέρει, όμως, η γνώση που αποκτούμε από όλη αυτήν τη μελέτη να βγει προς τα έξω και να γίνει κατανοητή και χρήσιμη.
Η διδασκαλία και τα σεμινάρια που κάνουμε είναι μέρος αυτής της προσπάθειας.
Γνωρίζω ότι με τους αρχαιολόγους που συνεργάζεστε σχεδιάζετε να δημιουργήσετε μια ιστοσελίδα αφιερωμένη στη μελέτη σας. Αληθεύει αυτό, και αν ναι, πότε υπολογίζετε να είναι έτοιμη;
-Αυτό που έχει σαν σκοπό η ομάδα είναι να ανοίξει τη γνώση προς όλους. Δεν μας ανήκει αυτό που ανακαλύπτουμε, το μαθαίνουμε για να το μοιραστούμε. Χρειάζεται βέβαια αρκετό χρόνο και σωστή δομή για να έχει το αποτέλεσμα που θέλουμε.
Στη δουλειά σας σημαντικό ρόλο παίζει η ζωγραφική απεικόνιση. Στις εκθέσεις παρουσιάζετε πάντα τα κοσμήματά σας μαζί με τα σχέδια σας που είναι και αυτά με τη σειρά τους έργα τέχνης. Έχετε πάρει μαθήματα ζωγραφικής ή είστε αυτοδίδακτος;
-Δεν νομίζω να πήρε κανείς μάθημα ομιλίας και επικοινωνίας πριν από το σχολείο. Σχεδίαζα από μικρό παιδί. Όπως έμαθα να μιλάω και να επικοινωνώ έτσι έμαθα και να ζωγραφίζω. Το σχέδιο για μένα είναι μια μορφή γλώσσας που χρησιμεύει για να εξηγήσει κάτι που θέλει πολλά λόγια. Δημιουργεί εικόνες που βοηθούν στο να καταλάβουμε κάτι πέραν του ορατού. Είναι μέρος των κοσμημάτων, δείχνει τον δρόμο που ακολούθησα, αποτυπώνει σκέψεις και ιδέες.
Παρουσιάζοντας τα κοσμήματά σας μαζί με τις ζωγραφικές απεικονίσεις τους είναι σα να αφηγείστε μια ιστορία. Το ίδιο κάνετε και στο βιβλίο σας «Μονοπάτια γνώσεων και τεχνικών στην Κοσμηματοχώρα» (2012 εκδόσεις LULU), αφηγείστε μια ιστορία μυώντας παράλληλα τον αναγνώστη στα μυστικά της κοσμηματικής τέχνης. Γιατί είναι τόσο σημαντική η αφήγηση στη δουλειά σας;
-Με ενδιαφέρει να υπάρχει μια ιστορία και μια αφήγηση πίσω από το έργο μου. Είναι η βάση πάνω στην οποία το αναπτύσσω και έτσι μπορώ να το παρατηρήσω από πολλές πλευρές. Είναι, επίσης, και η βάση για να αναπτύξει ο παρατηρητής τη δική του αφήγηση η οποία μπορεί να είναι διαφορετική από τη δική μου.
Το 2016 παρακολούθησα το εργαστήριο που παρουσιάσετε για τις προϊστορικές τεχνικές κατασκευής κοσμήματος στο Μουσείο Κυκλαδικής Τέχνης στο πλαίσιο της έκθεσης «Στα εργαστήρια των αρχαίων». Το 2017 παρακολούθησα το ίδιο εργαστήριο στη Βρετανική Αρχαιολογική Σχολή στην Αθήνα. Θα θυμάμαι πάντα τη στιγμή που τα φώτα έσβησαν, επικρατούσε απόλυτη ησυχία και τα μάτια όλων μας ήταν στραμμένα πάνω σας. Ήταν η στιγμή που είχατε έναν αυλό στο στόμα και προσπαθούσατε να δαμάσετε τη φλόγα με την αναπνοή σας προκειμένου να λιώσετε το μέταλλο και να δημιουργήσετε μια γράνα. Ήσασταν απόλυτα προσηλωμένος στην όλη διαδικασία σαν να υπήρχατε μόνο εσείς και η φωτιά στον κόσμο. Ήταν μια στιγμή πραγματικής μυσταγωγίας!
Παρακαλώ περιγράψτε μου τα συναισθήματά σας εκείνη τη στιγμή και πείτε μου, είναι ο έλεγχος της φωτιάς η πιο καθοριστική στιγμή στο έργο ενός κοσμηματοποιού και γιατί;
-Η φωτιά είναι το πιο σημαντικό εργαλείο του ανθρώπου είτε ήταν αρχαίος είτε είναι σημερινός. Η φωτιά είναι η ζωή. Για τον τεχνίτη η φωτιά είναι και εργαλείο αλλά και ψυχή. Για μένα όταν δουλεύω τη φωτιά με τον αυλό μαθαίνω πώς να την διαχειρίζομαι για να μου προσφέρει το επιθυμητό αποτέλεσμα. Αν δεν συγκεντρωθώ, δεν μπορώ να την καταλάβω και να τη χρησιμοποιήσω. Είναι σαν να μαθαίνεις ένα πνευστό όργανο. Από τον ήχο της την καταλαβαίνεις.
Ποια είναι τα επόμενα επαγγελματικά σας σχέδια;
-Τα 2018 θα είναι μια σημαντική χρονιά.
Ετοιμάζω μια νέα θεματική ενότητα κοσμημάτων την οποία θα παρουσιάσω το 2019, ενώ θα συμμετάσχω και σε κάποιες ομαδικές εκθέσεις.
Παράλληλα, δουλεύω για την έκθεση που θα γίνει στο Μουσείο Μπενάκη με θέμα το ελληνιστικό κόσμημα προς το τέλος του 2018. Συνεργάζομαι με την Δρ Ε. Παπαγεωργίου, αρχαιολόγο και επιμελήτρια του μουσείου, καθώς και τους συντηρητές, για να δείξουμε στο κοινό το πώς πιθανόν έγιναν κάποια από τα κοσμήματα, με βίντεο, σχέδια και τα εργαλεία που χρησιμοποίησα για την κατασκευή τους. Για την έκθεση αυτή δουλεύω περίπου δύο χρόνια.
Με την ομάδα των αρχαιολόγων που μελετάμε τα προϊστορικά κοσμήματα, ολοκληρώνουμε μια μελέτη για μια σπάνια μυκηναϊκή τεχνική, τη «χρυσοκέντηση». Με την τεχνική αυτή δημιουργήθηκαν πολύ λίγα έργα, κυρίως λαβές σπαθιών, από εργαστήρια με πολύ υψηλού επιπέδου τεχνίτες. Και για τη μελέτη αυτή θα ολοκληρωθεί το βίντεο που παρουσιάζει το πώς εφαρμόστηκε η τεχνική.
AKIS GOUMAS LECTURE ATHENS JEWELRY WEEK 2016
Sep 12, 2016 JEWELRYbox Magazine
SOFIA ZARARI WORK PRESENTATION
Jan 8, 2018 JEWELRYbox Magazine
PETER BAUHUIS INTERVIEW
Dec 15, 2017 KLIMT02
Some answers, many more questions. Peter Bauhuis interviewed by Marietta Kontogianni
An inspiring conversation with one of the most prominent artist in the contemporary jewellery field. A gifted person who always stays curious and amazes everyone.
The German artist Peter Bauhuis, is one of the most prominent and internationally renowned authors of the contemporary jewelry field. Former professor for almost a decade at Alchimia, Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence, Italy, he is a much sought-after guest professor and lecturer in universities and institutions around the world.
Interviewing him was like a journey in a whole new world where amazing things are happening that I had to discover. Peter Bauhuis is a gifted person. In my opinion his gift is to ask questions with the innate curiosity of a child and the maturity of an adult. Questions that intrigue the mind and make one want to research, to ask more questions, to find one of the possible answers, to learn new things, to open up a new window to the awareness, and to broaden one’s horizons. Personally speaking, after interviewing Peter Bauhuis I feel that my way of seeing, thinking and perceiving things has changed and that I am not the same person as I was before.
Mr Bauhuis, you visited Athens Greece as a guest artist of Athens Jewelry Week 2017. You showed your work and you gave a lecture at the Benaki Museum Piraeus annexe. Your lecture was called: Armillaria, Arithmeticians and other Amazements. I felt that it was like an invitation to open your cabinet of curiosities*, the one in the landing page of your website, and explore your world. How would you describe this world of yours in a few words?
-Though my metal work appears to be immediate, it is yet embedded in discourses that determine its perception, meaning and function. Things are interconnected, and for sure my things are.
In my exhibitions Armillaria in London and Melbourne and Thesaurus in Munich I have been showing a multitude of links and connections. Similarities of thoughts and forms create a network between thinking and making. I try to link my work with stories and thoughts from various fields like mathematics, biology and archaeology. Also, the lecture was a very personal cabinet of wonder in praise of the special, with amazement for the peculiar – and of course many pieces of jewellery.
Hallimasch (Armillaria Mellea). Photo © Peter Bauhuis.
Armillaria is your favourite mushroom. One can find it in every page of your website and is a source of inspiration for you. There i