Christoph Ziegler and Loukia Richards Interview for ROJW

Published: 27.09.2022
Christoph Ziegler and Loukia Richards Interview for ROJW.
Alexandra Bujenita
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SMCK On Reel, the first international video festival inspired by jewelry and wearable art, presents video works in the context of rapidly changing social and aesthetic values. More than 60 international artists and designers, galleries, and institutions speak in SMCK On Reel.
The second screening of SMCK ON REEL will take place at Romanian Jewelry Week 3.0

Christoph Ziegler and Loukia Richards created SMCK ON REEL in lockdown to facilitate communication between contemporary jewelry artists, starting with an online artist residency. They first came up with the idea in 2017 when they had fun filming some Greek villagers while they were modeling their jewelry. The global context was favorable to this idea, the pandemic, then the war in Ukraine, and currently, SMCK ON REEL and SMCK magazine are a powerful platform for the promotion and exposure of designer jewelry, being publicly recognized by Vogue, the British Academy of Jewelry in London, European Fashion Heritage and more.

The second edition of SMCK On Reel will take place at Romanian Jewelry Week 3.0, followed by Grassi Museum Leipzig in Germany, METALLOphone Biennial of Vilnius in Lithuania, Museum of History of Ukraine in Kyiv.

1. How did you come up with the idea of a jewelry video festival?
We always loved video clips as an art form. We shot our first jewelry video in 2017 titled „Jewelry For Real People“, asking Greek villagers to model our jewelry. We had a lot of fun shooting this video, which was different, in terms of narrative and structure, from the ones we shot to document our own performances.

It was Covid-19 that forced us in March 2020 to adjust our group exhibition project Polemos_War we curated for Munich’s Schmuck to the lockdown restrictions. We asked the participants of the show to make a video on the story behind their jewelry, and we were impressed by the results.

In summer 2020 we designed and curated an e-Residency for Niarchos Foundation Greece. Video played a major role in our this online artist residency. We noticed how easy it was for the participants to master the video techniques, for everybody is familiar with the visual culture of moving images and with story patterns in TV reports. And everyone owns a smartphone nowadays.

In our next jewelry exhibition project for Schmuck 2021 - Flying Circus - video played an even more important role.

Loukia has a long experience in film script writing, media and journalism, while Christoph has been working with video making and cutting, as well as website design and graphical illustration for many years.

We saw the advantages of introducing video in our shows anyway, and we realized that we could also make jewelry shows without objects, but with the image and the spirit of these objects.

The war in Ukraine added a new perspective to our endeavor: the possibility for artists and designers to send their message and have an impact on the international community even if they are not able to move out of the war zone.

The advantages of the medium video for promoting jewelry are obvious: low cost for shooting, easy-to-use technology for digital editing, no need for the artist’s presence in a show, a wider and more mixed audience reached through various social media, networking and press platforms. Last but not least: low cost for the participation in SMCK ON REEL!

For us, story telling is sine qua non for promoting art and crafts, and video is a cool way to combine image, text, sound, concept, graphics. Customers buying jewelry after watching SMCK ON REEL was the biggest reward of this project.

Becoming Oneself, video (2022) by Daniel Ramos Obregón.  Photo: R. Becker

2. Who can participate in the festival and what type of films will be accepted?
Everybody who can shoot an interesting story or visual presentation of her/his work through a cell phone - or any other - camera in maximum 3 minutes can participate in SMCK ON REEL.

We also receive professional shootings made with specialized camera equipment, for example videos made for and by institutions, however, the majority of the SMCK ON REEL participants work with simple tools.

This year’s (2022) theme is open; we wanted to make people curious of the medium and its possibilities, this is why we had no particular title, and welcomed all sort of visual treatments.

In 2023, the title of SMCK ON REEL II is Civilization Rebooted, and the festival will focus on the question: if our civilization perishes, or dies in a nuclear accident or war, how will it reemerge? This is a project to talk about climate change, environmental catastrophe, war, fear, death, rebirth, recycling, new values, the different use of objects and aesthetics, archaeology of the future, as well as about setting priorities in life.

Through our residency platform FaveLAB, we offer Zoom workshops, e-Residencies and physical artist residencies in Athens to deal with the spiritual and the material aspects of culture, and the city traces of the immense Greek civilization. Through our residency platform FaveLAB, we offer.

3. What is the format of the festival?
SMCK ON REEL’s honorary guest is Ukraine this year. Ukrainian jewelry artists sent us videos with their experiences from, or reflections on, the war, their life and work, and although other artists' videos do not necessarily have to do with this topic, the video screening order allows the viewer to understand that what he/she watches is basically about War & Peace.

We have approximately fifty participants - artists and institutions - in the Second Edition of SMCK ON REEL which will take place in October: first in ROJW Bucharest, followed by Grassi Museum Leipzig in Germany, METALLOphone Biennial of Vilnius in Lithuania,
Museum of History of Ukraine in Kyiv.

We hope more cities and venues with join our „Chain of Solidarity“, a communication project within SMCK ON REEL aiming at sending the message that we care for our Ukrainian fellow artists, the tragedy and ordeal they go through.

4. What can you tell us about the magazine, how did the project start and how was it received?
SMCK Magazine was born in March 2020 during the first lockdown; we decided to publish this magazine for various reasons; first, we sensed that the pandemic would have a long way to go, and fairs/shows and other ways of meeting would be severely hurt by sanitary restrictions and fear; so we needed a medium of communication to keep us connected to the art, crafts, and jewelry community and industry.

We realized how many extremely talented artists we knew who are not presented in the mainstream and specialized Press, and how many obstacles keep various art and design disciplines isolated from each other. We wished to remove obstacles and mix disciplines.

We both have visual art backgrounds and work with contemporary jewelry, because we find the medium extremely interesting for its history and creative possibilities, its potential to communicate ideas, its beauty of materials and semiotics. We wished to transmit the awe we feel for jewelry also to colleagues from fine art disciplines, as well as connect it with fashion or social trends.

SMCK Magazine has been spotted by the „radars“ of design, fashion and jewelry experts and trend hunters amazingly fast. One year after its first issue, we have been contacted by Vogue International, and a five page interview was published in the Greek Vogue edition in summer 2021. We have just completed two interviews for podcasts produced by the British Academy of Jewelry in London and by the German platform Glanz & Kante in Goettingen, and we participated in a documentary on Greek textile filmed by European

Fashion Heritage Association two months ago. So, we feel SMCK Magazine makes people curious.
We have also published interviews by artists and experts on their experience working with market leaders, such as Boucheron, Dior, Cartier, and we are not tired to emphasize that contemporary jewelry can only profit from being extrovert.

SMCK Magazine / SMCK On Reel catalogue pages

 5. What is the top (5-7) contemporary jewelry in Europe?

Victoire de Castellane, Fabrizio Tridenti, Bernhard Schobinger, Reka Lorincz, Karl Fritsch, Peter Vermandere and Sigurd Bronger. We should also keep an eye on the Ukrainian artists presented in SMCK ON REEL, because we feel that they will be in the limelight in the coming years.

6. How do you see the future of contemporary jewelry?
We think that although Munich will remain the "queen" of contemporary jewelry meetings, due to its unbeatable class and very important awards, there is a lot of opportunity for ambitious meeting organizers and curators in other countries, especially in the ones with emerging economies and market vision.

A major problem of contemporary jewelry worldwide is that it is not perceived as a contemporary art discipline by many people, including art lovers and collectors; they are often not familiar with the medium. This means that there is a lot of room for improvement in the field of promotion, press work, non-specialist education programs, PR. We need to expand the circle of people interested in contemporary jewelry.

7. What do you think of the contemporary jewelry community in Romania?
Romania was a country with a very cosmopolitan, well educated and flourishing upper and middle class before WWII; and we are sure that the traditions of elegance and good taste prevail in contemporary Romania; Romania’s unique folk art, as well as the amazing Christian Orthodox visual tradition are string influences on contemporary design. We are mesmerized by the variety and the beauty of works presented in the ROJW website and social media, and we are looking forward to ROJW 2022!

>>Find more about Romanian Jewelry Week 3.0 here. 

About the author

Alexandra Bujenita
is the PR manager of Romanian Jewelry Week team, Art developer of Creative team of Imbold Cultural Foundation, Founder Delalu, PR account at Hello Menthol and Acuarela - Bucharest.
The Monster Factory, video (2022) by PyR.
The Monster Factory, video (2022) by PyR

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(Non) Sense, video (2019) by Orion Ivliev.
(Non) Sense, video (2019) by Orion Ivliev

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Christoph Ziegler & Loukia Richards.
Christoph Ziegler & Loukia Richards

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