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(...) the free information age Internet is contributing to increase the artists’ identity and symbolic capital, which was a system related to galleries way of working. (...)
Answers to the interview Market, lies and websites: Klimt02 versus Klimt02 (Part 1)
Is contemporary jewellery a restricted matter of a small group of people?
Jewels lost long ago the metaphysic power they once had, as symbols that where understood by everybody in a society. Some jewels, like religious symbols, still represent a similar shared meaning among those who are believers.
If one considers a jewel as an interface mediator between people, one will agree that jewels nowadays share their symbolic power with many other goods and commodities: cars, mobile phones and panoply of gadgets.
Today there are different groups of people thinking in different ways.
In a world that is constantly changing – it is hard to understand - but a great majority of people in the western world have conservative and preconceived ideas about jewellery. So, to most people, a jewel is still related to gold and gemstones, it is a precious commodity that confers social status to the one who wares it. This way this kind of persons are not ready to notice that there are so many other commodities that share a common social role with jewels as social interface mediators. They are also symbolic as they are means to built one’s public image and so to make a link between people.
Are this preconceived ideas shared among common people? Probably not.
Many artists, painters, sculptors and designers still keep this idea. But when artists look at a contemporary jewel, they have simultaneously another feeling: jewellers have appropriate themselves from their own world. They may use gold or stones like them but also other metals, paper, plastics and so many other materials. Designers consider contemporary jewellers are artists, because they make unique pieces which project is not meant to be produce following industrial technologies.
In fact, contemporary jewellers work within a boundary. They invented a new visual art. They mostly make unique pieces, their work is meant to be artistic, conceptual and often expressive as well as it follows gold and silversmith crafts knowledge or even other crafts skills. It happened then that contemporary jewellers worked out their own restricted world, limited to those who also think that jewellery is a new visual art through which each jeweller expresses their own ideas. But this does not mean that contemporary jewellers are a small group of people. They represent a large network with contacts around the world.
The relationship between jewellers and art galleries is of mutual necessity, but the jeweller seems to be dissatisfied. When must the jeweller consider a new relationship? Why don’t new alternatives emerge? Is it perhaps the incapacity to reach a new agreement or is it just that deep down jewellers have adapted to things as are now?
The mutual necessity of artists and dealers or those who run a gallery is similar in every art field. Jewellers as well as painters or sculptors need and want to sell their work and, naturally art dealers need their products to run their own business.
Another common aspect is that the world of art galleries is known to be a world of euphemistical talking. An art piece is not sold as other commodity or device. The sale of a painting or a contemporary jewel depends mostly on the symbolic capital of the artist – his/her recognition by the buyers, which he/she went on building along his/her carrier – then on the price of the piece for sale. Simultaneously, it depends on the symbolic capital of the gallery and of the one who runs it – a similar recognition by the public: what is sold in a certain gallery or by a certain dealer has recognised quality or is trustable, its worth to buy. Bourdieu is one of the better know authors who dedicate himself to this subject and, as he says, these are not things that none of the ones who are involved on the business speaks clearly about, even the buyers. There are, of course, dealing moments between artists and art dealers, but they happen under camouflaged talking, protecting their mutual convenience. Those who run the best and economically powerful galleries invest on good catalogues and on helping some selected artists to be know by the press and the art critics, because they know how important it is to help building up to his/her identity as an artist. By increasing their symbolic capital, they will also increase their own and consequently their economical capital.
However, more and more jewellers – and other artists – show they are dissatisfied. The world changed after Bourdieu’ writings in the early nineties. Every artist thinks in a more materialistic way although they still concentrate about increasing their symbolic capital – even if they don’t talk about it. Artist’s complain more and more about the high percentages the galleries set over their own ones. They are not satisfied with the fact that they have to leave pieces for sale, knowing that they only will be paid back months after, whenever the gallery owner decides to.
In the free information age, Internet, gallery owners have lost their power situation as anyone has access to all kind of information that had been treasured as if it was gold dust. When will we believe that we are the only ones that can make possible a change? Is it perhaps, the responsibility that each one has the only way of changing some situations?
The gallery owners didn’t lose all their power yet. At the moment the human beings still needs the face-to-face talking, seeing, touching, negotiation and dealing. We leave in a time where we still want to combine real and virtual interchanging contacts. Of course this is changing at the speed of light.
But, in this field, the free information age Internet is contributing to increase the artists’ identity and symbolic capital, which was a system related to galleries way of working. As it was mentioned before this represents a previewed incoming for a gallery.
Sites like Klimt02 openly – and without fees! – contribute to it and among other things advertise exhibitions and show jeweller’s work. Many other sites are devoted to self-advertising of jewellers work.
New alternatives are emerging! But how would the new sale setting be? And the new agreements?
We are waiting for a saviour, to save us from our ills; a person who stand up for us while we are lagging behind. When will we realize that in order to achieve these changes we will have to start taking decisions and changing attitudes?
Well, it can be just now!
Is it a question of professionalism?
Of course it is a question of professionalism!
We accept the established order, but we do not agree with it… What’s wrong?
If people do so it is because they prefer to wait for other ones proposals instead of setting their owns in advance. Lack of courage…
Contemporary jewellery moves in a rather limited market, for many reasons including the fact that it does not move a large amount of money. The issue would be to enlarge this market… but how can we do it?
The first part of this issue is very reasonable but it is already a question /answered.
The preconceived ideas mentioned before have to do with the fact that contemporary jewellery moves in a rather limited market. In fact, maybe it is not such a big mistake to say that the also mentioned network includes jewellers, galleries, owners, buyers… and site production members?
Somebody once said that the contemporary jewellers live in an endogamy world. Anyway, the concept of network seams to fit better the situation and shows also more dynamic idea of a group with different nucleus in the world that are working for an ideal. But the dangerous item is this net – including all the just mention members – is getting closed in itself, in its arenas of negotiation, in the meetings organised by the members and does not communicate much with the outside world – that is to say it forgets that the world is changing quickly in many sectors. So, the crafts knowledge that remains has to be questioned not versus, but within the global panorama.
What’s the role of the crafts knowledge now? Once upon a time there was a movement called Arts and Crafts, whose members’ aimed to make sophisticated craft works. They showed to be against industrial ugly anonymous devices and by opposition they preferred the skilled manufactured products made out of expensive materials. Renowned authors signed many. But they end up working for small groups, which were rich middle class people or elite's.
Aren’t contemporary jewellers, while they open new ways in the art scenario, working for small groups and elite's too, in this case highly educated and intellectual people who which to find a means to feel different by wearing a author’ signed jewel?
Why is contemporary jewellery not so well known?
Maybe the previous question can lead to an answer and show a reason for the difficulty to enlarge this market.
How is the market? If I sell, would that be enough for me?
Selling is never enough, even if people are not conscience of it.
Is Internet a solution? Should we pay for it?
If well planed, Internet can be a solution. To be paid, of course!
Jewellery designer, lecturer and coordinator of the jewellery course at ESAD (College of Art and Design, in Matosinhos, Portugal). She studied jewellery design at Ar.Co in Lisbon, and later, with a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, at the Massana School in Barcelona.
Her post-graduate study in Intercultural Relations at the Open University in Porto led to a Masters Degree in Visual Anthropology. Her dissertation entitled Cel i Mar: Ramón Puig, actor num novo cenário da joalharia (Sky and Sea: Ramón Puig, actor in the new jewellery scenario) resulted in the book Ramón Puig: The journey.
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