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Distant Horizons. Jewellery and Transgression in Reinhold Ziegler's Artistic Universe

Article  /  Artists   Critical Thinking   Debates
Published: 24.04.2017
Pravu Mazumdar Pravu Mazumdar
Author:
Pravu Mazumdar
Edited by:
klimt02
Edited at:
Munich
Edited on:
2017
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: From The Cambrian Explosion, 2017. Trilobite, silver, wood, steel wire.. 8.2 x 8.8 x 2.7 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: From The Cambrian Explosion, 2017
Trilobite, silver, wood, steel wire.
8.2 x 8.8 x 2.7 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
In his latest works exhibited in Munich (Wittenbrink), Reinhold Ziegler also presented works involving fossils dating back more than 60 million years to the Precambrian Age. This article is a reflection on the connection between jewelry, cosmic space and evolutionary time.
 
1.
If we would see ourselves from a cosmic distance, we would probably perceive jewellery as a process, in which an animal organism drapes itself with fragments of its own physical environment and transforms into an image. Our distant eye would probably not be interested in the aesthetics of the fragments, but be instead struck by the fact that the organism turns away in its act of self-ornamentation from biological functions like growth, nourishment, self-protection and that it turns back upon itself to generate an image that it obviously would want to be identified with. From such a distance, we would see jewellery as a rudimentary art of appearance, applied by an organism to become visible to its environment. We would also probably see in jewellery a technique of enhancement, peculiar to human animals and involving a daily fabrication of ones own image for generating more being.


2.
Such techniques of enhancement occur whenever we mask ourselves with an image of ourselves in our social interactions. To the extent that such images include symbolic elements, the art of appearing is expected to enable participation in the biological powers of stronger organisms through contact or substitution. One can drape oneself in the skin of a more powerful animal or arrange constellations of claws and teeth across one’s surface. In archaic techniques of appearance, masks, dress and jewellery are applied in order to transform a finite and mortal organism into something beyond itself. The application of symbols indicates an urge not only towards survival, but also towards excess, understood as the drive, the act and the experience of exceeding oneself.


3.
Exceeding oneself is quite the opposite of clinging onto a past or present identity. It means breaking asunder the shell of identity and ventilating ones subjectivity to explore new possibilities of being. It means exposing the intimate spheres of habit and proximity to distant horizons in time and space. George Bataille terms such a process, in which the near and the far get connected and participate in a universal continuity of things, the experience of transgression. Jewellery can certainly be used to seal up existing identities and make them recognisable, as with traditional symbols of affiliation like the masonic gavel, or pendants with religious content like the Christian cross or the Zoroastrian bird, or the bangle as a symbol of the marital status of Hindu women. But jewellery can also be used as a technique of transgression by connecting the body of the wearer with objects that are estranged either through the deviant nature of their forms with respect to traditional norms or through the distance or rarity of their material sources. There have been numerous proposals made in this direction in the world of contemporary jewellery. One of the most remarkable examples of such proposals is the work of Reinhold Ziegler with its dual allusion to the cosmic and the biological.


4.
In the past, Ziegler’s works spanned a wide range of experiments extending from the anthropomorphic to the cosmic. On the one hand one finds pendants consisting of tools like pliers in a leather bag (Pincer Pliers, 2012) or a hammer on a nylon band (Cross Peen Hammer, 2013) or pocket brooches (2013) questioning the borderline between jewellery and dress. We have here jewellery as a replication of artefacts associated with the functional spheres of life, interrupting functionality, enhancing the being and personality of the wearer and ultimately transgressing the limits of utility. On the other hand one finds the series of pendants made of extra-terrestrial matter under the title Cosmic Debris (2014) and primarily extracted from stony meteorites. In this series, Ziegler’s exploration of the transgressive potential of jewellery attains a dramatic climax. Some of these pieces of meteorite rocks have been left unformed (Weathered Crusted Meteorite 2, 2013), some have been given pure geometric shapes, reminiscent of the Platonic structure of human reason (Meteorite Ball, 2013;  Hexagonal Meteorite with Vortex, 2014). But in all of them the pieces of extra-terrestrial matter can be perceived as a metonymic evocation of their cosmic origin and as an element of jewellery at the same time. Seeing them on a wearer’s body, the camera of the inner eye swings from their cosmic horizons to the anthropomorphic dimensions of their role as jewellery within the flash of an instant. In creating these pieces, Ziegler reveals the potential of jewellery as a cosmic emplacement of its human wearers.


5.
Such explorations are carried to a further pitch in Ziegler’s latest works, the three Origin-series (1: Matter; 2: Life: 3: Spirit, 2016). These pieces, which can be used as brooches and wall pieces at the same time, evoke alternately the enormity of cosmic space and the eons of the History of Life within their anthropomorphic dimensions. Such works unfold their impact not only through the visual impression they provide, but also through the words strung together to constitute the material information attached to them. Thus we can read in connection with a brooch of the Matter-series that the material of the square-shaped image within the metal frame of the piece is derived from a “meteorite of condensed star-dust”. Similarly we are informed in connection with a brooch of the Life-series that the hexagonal image within the frame contains a material derived from a “carbonaceous meteorite with amino acids”, meaning that they entail certain bio-molecular building blocks of life within their extra-terrestrial materiality. Also the words connected with the pendants do not fail to unfold their impact as they mention a rough piece of carbonaceous meteorite (Organic meteorite, 2017) or a Spinosaurus tooth (From the Mesozoic King, 2017) hanging at the height of the solar plexus; a fragment of a Saltosaurus egg-shell (Wheel of Life, 2017), the petrified excrement of a tortoise (Transition, 2017), the fossilized remains of a Trilobite (From the Cambrian Explosion, 2017), a three-lobed marine invertebrate from the great Cambrian period, when life on earth suddenly exploded and diversified.
Thus Reinhold Ziegler’s pieces widen our horizon in time and space as we view them. They are part of an on-going experiment at breaking open the prison house of our modern individualism and re-establishing our connection with the great continuity of being, which George Bataille incessantly evokes in his works. Ziegler’s works show that jewellery as a medium is optimally tuned to the fulfilment of such a task.
 

About the author

Pravu Mazumdar studied physics in New Delhi and Munich and has a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Stuttgart. He writes in German and English, and his books, which use themes like migration and consumerism to unfold a diagnosis of modernity, are closely connected to French Postmodernism, in particular the philosophy of Michel Foucault. His book on jewellery was published in 2015 under the title: Gold und Geist: Prolegomena zu einer Philosophie des Schmucks (“Gold and Mind: Prolegomena towards a Philosophy of Jewellery”), Berlin: Matthes & Seitz.

Born and brought up in the eastern provinces of India and living between several languages and three continents, Pravu Mazumdar leads a typically contemporary interstitial existence. An essential category of such a mode of living is the idea of hybridity, to which Mazumdar has devoted several writings, like Das Niemandsland der Kulturen (Berlin: 2011) or “Wishful Thinking” on jewellery and existence.

(https://alchimiablog.com/2016/05/23/pravu-mazumdar-wishful-thinking/)
 
Reinhold Ziegler.
Reinhold Ziegler

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Organic Meteorite, 2017. Carbonaceous meteorite CV3, silver, steel spring, coloured leather cord.. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Organic Meteorite, 2017
Carbonaceous meteorite CV3, silver, steel spring, coloured leather cord.
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Brooch: The Origin Series 1 - Matter, 2016. Stony meteorite NWA (unclassified North West Africa), silver, steel.. 7 x 7 x 1 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Brooch: The Origin Series 1 - Matter, 2016
Stony meteorite NWA (unclassified North West Africa), silver, steel.
7 x 7 x 1 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Brooch: The Origin Series 2 - Life, 2016. Carbonaceous meteorite NWA 4927, 18 kt gold, silver, titanium, steel.. 7 x 7 x 1 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Brooch: The Origin Series 2 - Life, 2016
Carbonaceous meteorite NWA 4927, 18 kt gold, silver, titanium, steel.
7 x 7 x 1 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Brooch: The Origin Series 3 - Spirit, 2014-2016. Lunar meteorite, silver, titanium, steel.. 7 x 7 x 1 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Brooch: The Origin Series 3 - Spirit, 2014-2016
Lunar meteorite, silver, titanium, steel.
7 x 7 x 1 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Hexagonal Meteorite with Vortex, 2015. Stony meteorite NWA (unclassified North West Africa), silver, nylon cord.. 4.7 x 4.7 x 2 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Hexagonal Meteorite with Vortex, 2015
Stony meteorite NWA (unclassified North West Africa), silver, nylon cord.
4.7 x 4.7 x 2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Brooch: Spinning Spiral Mandala, 2016. Ammonite, silver, steel, ball bearing, boxwood.. 7 x 7 x 2.5 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Brooch: Spinning Spiral Mandala, 2016
Ammonite, silver, steel, ball bearing, boxwood.
7 x 7 x 2.5 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Brooch: Leaf Mandala, 2017. Gingko Tree leaf fossil, silver, steel, wood.. 7 x 7 x 1.2 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Brooch: Leaf Mandala, 2017
Gingko Tree leaf fossil, silver, steel, wood.
7 x 7 x 1.2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: From the Mesozoic King, 2016. Spinosaurus tooth, silver, leather.. 3,2 x 16 x 2.3 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: From the Mesozoic King, 2016
Spinosaurus tooth, silver, leather.
3,2 x 16 x 2.3 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Wheel of Life, 2017. Saltosaurus egg fraction, silver, steel, leather cord.. 10 x 10.8 x 2.7 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Wheel of Life, 2017
Saltosaurus egg fraction, silver, steel, leather cord.
10 x 10.8 x 2.7 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Transition, 2016. Petrified tortoise excrements, silver, leather cord.. 4.5 x 8.3 x 3.2 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Transition, 2016
Petrified tortoise excrements, silver, leather cord.
4.5 x 8.3 x 3.2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Hammer, 2012. Granite, mutyeneye wood, silver, nylon band.. 15 x 6.5 x 2 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Hammer, 2012
Granite, mutyeneye wood, silver, nylon band.
15 x 6.5 x 2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Pincer Pliers, 2012. Silver, leather, nylon band.. 15 x 4.2 x 2 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Pincer Pliers, 2012
Silver, leather, nylon band.
15 x 4.2 x 2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Brooch: Orange Pocket, 2013. Leather, silver, brass, steel.. 9.6 x 7 x 1 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Brooch: Orange Pocket, 2013
Leather, silver, brass, steel.
9.6 x 7 x 1 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Wheathered Fusion Crusted Meteorite 2, 2014. Stony meteorite, silver, nylon cord.. 4.6 x 5.6 x2.3 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Wheathered Fusion Crusted Meteorite 2, 2014
Stony meteorite, silver, nylon cord.
4.6 x 5.6 x2.3 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Reinhold Ziegler. Pendant: Meteorite Ball, 2013. Stony meteorite, silver, leather cord.. 6 x 5.4 x 2.2 cm. Reinhold Ziegler
Pendant: Meteorite Ball, 2013
Stony meteorite, silver, leather cord.
6 x 5.4 x 2.2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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