Talk Show. Do you Speak Jewellery?

Lectures  /  20 Jan 2018
Published: 08.01.2018

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Marta raised her concern and thought from the question if art would continue to exist, the debate from AJF to a biography of Peggy Guggenheim. How we understand, react and live with jewellery instinctively as an artist, a gallery, an institution. What we speak on the behalf of jewellery, where we go and what we do.

Artist list

Marina Elenskaya, Olga Noronha, Pedro Sequeira
Food for thought.

A while ago a friend who is also a jeweler asked me whether I thought our art would continue to exist. The question surprised me as I had never pondered on it. What did she mean “continue to exist”? Of course, it will! I never though arts could disappear. Besides that, we know jewellery is almost as human as we are.

But the question lingered… could “this” really disappear? And what is “this”? I don’t want to go into the debate of the definition of the art I will call art jewellery. Of course, there are many hesitations regarding the name - contemporary jewellery, studio jewellery, author jewellery - not to mention the confusion with artists' jewellery, and this doesn’t help the recognition of this practice, but others better than me will do this analysis.

What intrigued and excited me was this idea, almost an anguish, that the sector of artistic jewellery could be at risk of disappearing when I see it as booming, vibrant and full of life… (am I alienated from reality?) There is a multitude of new artists, schools, workshops, fairs and exhibitions that make that it is no longer possible to know about every exhibition, follow every event… signs that the sector moved into a new phase of maturity, will all the opportunities and problems that arise from that.

On the other hand, very recently Art Jewellery Forum debated a theme I had heard before from a worried friend, that a significant number of jewellery gallery owners are around the age of retirement, and one wonders whether they will keep the galleries open and under which conditions and some just closed down their businesses.

Can this work survive without galleries? And even if it could, do we want that to happen? Can we imagine a mainly virtual future, with exhibitions organized by artists in fairs or ad hoc places? Will independent curators or artists’ “agents” emerge, operating without a defined physical space, without a gallery?

A while ago I read a biography of Peggy Guggenheim, bought in Paris when I went there to see the “Medusa: Bijoux et Tabous” exhibition, a mark in the problematization, divulgation and – do we still need to say it? - legitimation of art jewellery. This book - I read on the plane back home - made see some parallels between the moment jewellery is going through right now and what is there described at the rising of the age of modern art. The question: “Is this art?” echoes in our daily practice, teaming with another one: “Is this jewellery?”. There is a feeling of a vanguard in the jewellery world that I believe is difficult to find these days in other areas. We are not the first generation but their sons or grandsons and daughters and everything is still very new and exciting but still rather uncertain.

The artists want to know how to dedicate fully to their art, without the need of daily jobs; the gallery owners want to know how to captivate new audiences, though very much aware that we will always be a small niche; the thinkers and teachers and curators need to define the theoretical boundaries of what we are doing; schools oscillate between artistic curricula and the need to give their students tools of employability and collectors are worried they may be blinded by their passion…a whole world organizes itself around jewellery.

And jewellery must answer…in a world in constant expansion where borders collapse… photography, installation, video, performance, sculpture, scarification, tattoos, land art, urban art, design, craft, 3D technology, augmented reality…artistic jewellery can run through all these worlds. But, besides individual practice, what remains when we go back to the bench? Where are we, and of course, where do we go?

Marta Costa Reis to Galeria Reverso, 2018.

Talk show title: Do you speak jewellery? is the title of a book by Manuel Vilhena in 1998.

About Participants:
Marina Elenskaya, lives in the Netherlands and is the co-founder of the jewellery magazine Current Obsession. She studied media and jewellery and is today mainly dedicated to writing and several creative projects, including curating and tutoring.
Olga Noronha, lives in Oporto and is a jewellery designer. She is a regular participant of the fashion show Moda Lisboa and in several other artistic exhibitions and fashion events. She graduated from Central Saint Martins, in London and has a Ph.D in Design Research from Goldsmiths College, in London.
Pedro Sequeira, lives in Lisbon and is a visual artist and jewellery maker. He studied jewellery, mineralogy, photography and drawing and besides a Masters at the Fine Arts Faculty of Porto, he graduated at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunsten in Munich, under Professor Otto Kunzli. He exhibits in different countries e writes about art and contemporaneity for several publications.

Marta Costa Reis, lives in Lisbon and works with Galeria Reverso. She graduated in jewellery at Arco and in her “previous life” was a lawyer and worked in the media, publishing and non-profit sectors. Jewellery used to be part-time... not anymore.