Eva Eisler: curating Schmuck 2015

Interview  /  Behind the ScenesMakingCurating
Published: 04.03.2015
Sanna Svedestedt
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Eva Eisler. Photo by Tomas Soucek.
Eva Eisler. Photo by Tomas Soucek

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Professor Eva Eisler on her approach to selecting work for the 56th Special Jewellery Show, Schmuck 2015
For Schmuck 2015 you selected 63 artists out of 620 applications sent from all over the world. Can you tell us about your view on this honorary assignment?
Indeed I feel very honoured to have had the opportunity to make this year’s selection. To review more than six hundred applications and then have to choose only a limited number, is quite a demanding and responsible job.

However, I have been working and teaching in the field of contemporary art jewellery for over 40 years and my long involvement with the Hellen Drutt Gallery and the 25 years that I lived in New York, have given me a pretty good picture of the evolution of contemporary art jewellery. Each of The Masters, as we call them today, who contributed to this evolution, developed a recognizable style that influenced younger artists.

What was your curatorial approach to making the selection for Schmuck?
At first viewing I saw many similar approaches that could easily have been divided into groups of flowers, branches, driftwood, ready-made collages, animals, clusters of elements from different materials and colours, shapeless forms or unrecognizable objects on a string of beads, and at the same time I was seeing countless references to other people’s work.
And so my main concern was to identify the essence of an independent approach and bring together a strong group of the best and most original representational works and above all to trust my instinct.

What qualities were you looking for when you made the selection?
I was looking for work that had been made with love, with an open mind and heart, with humour and elegance, and at the same time with a deeper understanding of a wide spectrum of art in space through an interdisciplinary approach to material, concept and form, in a close relationship to design, architecture and contemporary art.  
After looking through such a large amount of applications, is there any advice you would like to give to artists that apply to Schmuck?
My advice to each of the young artists is to envision themselves where they want to be in twenty years time, if this is what they want to do for the rest of their lives, if they believe that it is possible to say something significantly meaningful, to reach monumentality through such a small object, and perhaps try to imagine what people will think about us if they unearth these objects of ours two thousand years from now.  
How will Schmuck 2015 different itself from the previous editions? Do you find it important that it does?
When you see yet another Van Gogh exhibition it’s never the same. Schmuck 2015 will be evidence of the incredible freedom of creation we are experiencing at this time that we are living in.
Will you take part in installing the exhibition at the fair ground?
Even though this is my most favourite part of the work when I curate or organize an exhibition, but no, in this case I will not. Schmuck has it’s own architect who does an excellent job every year.
And finally, do you have any specific favourites in the selected works?

 There is a large number of really fantastic work, but I would rather not say which ones they are...

Eva Eisler and Gijs Bakker during his lecture at the AAAD in Prague. Photo by Alzbeta Dvorakova

Prof. Eva Eisler is an internationally renowned curator, currently Head of the K.O.V. Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (AAAD) in Prague.

As an internationally recognized sculptor, furniture/product designer and jeweller Eisler’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum and Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; and Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, among others.