Intimate Relationships. Scene of Opening Ceremony and Exhibition

Published: 25.10.2021
Felicia Li
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Intimate Relationships Exhibition venue in Beijing. Photo by: Banye Lin 林半野.
Intimate Relationships Exhibition venue in Beijing. Photo by: Banye Lin 林半野

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There is a vivid story behind each work. Some works and artists could always touch the softest part of our hearts. It is no longer confined to the concept of each work itself, but has extended beyond the works to the reflections on our life.

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On 4 October 2021, the 2nd VONMO “Intimate Relationships” Contemporary Art Jewelry Exhibition (Beijing) was officially opened at LANNG SPACE Art Center, Vintage, China World Trade Center. It was launched by VONMO Studio and curated by Felicia Li, the director of VONMO Studio, finally, 210 high-quality exhibits from 72 artists all over the world were exhibited. Jewelry artists had demonstrated “intimate relationships” by means of jewelry, and photographs shot by the artists that support the logical concept behind the jewelry works also had been presented simultaneously.

We want to make all the visitors feel the intimate and comfortable atmosphere of the exhibition on the scene, so we use soft air pillows instead of conventional display stands to display the works. An interactive device is installed in the center of the site, enabling viewers to lie down and watch the private photos behind each work. Quilts relate to a private emotional experience, and the curator has arranged so because of her personal habits in her childhood —­ when she was a child, she often drew pictures and read storybooks secretly in the quilt. Such feeling must be same with many people's feeling safe when lying in bed. Such interactive experience is also intended to enable the viewers to relax and freely enjoy the contemporary art jewelry works with such a theme. If the viewers could, via this installation, feel the emotional experience of others and reflect on their relationships with others, so this exhibition is a great success.
Intimate Relationships Exhibition venue in Beijing.

On 4th of October, when the exhibition opened at 16:00, the documentary Intimate Relationships shot by our team's director Xuefeng Li was shown, in which eight independent women discussed their views on “intimate relationships” from their perspectives (the film lasted 20 minutes). This was the premiere of the film, and tears could be seen in the viewers' eyes.
After that, videos carrying the review panel artists’ messages to the exhibition were played.

At the opening ceremony, publisher Yusen Feng and curator Felicia Li each delivered a speech, “After a year of arduous preparations, I would like to thank all the guests and visitors for your zeal and support as you have come in spite of the rainy day.”
Curator Felicia Li at Intimate Relationships Exhibition in Beijing.

At the opening ceremony, curator Felicia Li said, "Personally, this exhibition touches me the most, as many works and artists have touched the softest part of my heart. I have been affected by their emotional ups and downs, and then my emotional ups and downs are affecting others around me. It is no longer confined to the concept of each work itself, but has extended beyond the works to the whole exhibition environment. It’s contagious and all-pervasive! I was caught off guard yet pleasantly surprised by all those subtle emotional changes."
There is a vivid story behind each work. Some works and artists could always touch the softest part of our hearts. It is no longer confined to the concept of each work itself, but has extended beyond the works to the reflections on our life: in today's male-dominated society, Maja Stojkovska, a feminist artist from North Macedonia, has spent more than five years collecting blades from her father's 24 used razor to make a necklace, which is her exclusive legacy. The poster of her work was forwarded by a viewer with a heartbreaking message "I miss my dad", because her father had passed away; it can be seen that, even in such a patriarchal society, females still deeply love their fathers. Chinese artist Chuchu MAO dedicated a work to her seriously ill grandpa, but when she was about to tell him the good news on her work’s being selected, her grandpa passed away. In Diary on Grandpa she wrote, "It’s such a pity that I haven't had time to tell him the good news, but I know he had already known what I want to express", which is so touching…

Sometimes there is no need for so many modifiers to express our emotions, as sincere feelings are simple, direct and straightforward. These experiences are so precious to us. In fact, many “Intimate Relationships” characters described in the art exhibits today have come to the scene of our opening ceremony, and they are the artists' parents, spouse, beloved ones or friends. For them, perhaps the meaning and feelings brought by this exhibition are more extraordinary, as it has really gone beyond the academic category of contemporary jewelry. In our opinion, our exhibition is the first real down-to-earth art practice in which contemporary jewelry is brought so close to common people and so closely combined with life.

Careful viewers would find that No.12 is missing from the list of participating artists. No.12 was originally intended for a large necklace jointly created by two artists, and it’s also a work that needed to be worn jointly by these two artists, but its exhibition qualification was cancelled due to a copyright issue. As the relationship between the two artists broke down, this made a very ironic case of “Intimate Relationships”. Felicia Li, as the curator, also got involved in their farcical awkward relationship, which could not be reconciled no matter how, so this work could not be exhibited, and this is the biggest pity of this exhibition. We deliberately retained No.12 and told them that we could put up their names and work at any time provided they were willing to meet each other halfway. But unfortunately, their relationship is still deadlocked so far.

Contemporary jewelry exhibitions have always been carried out with a rather rigorous attitude, and artists are rationally discussing what contemporary jewelry is and where the boundary of contemporary jewelry is, and are continuously breaking the boundaries between body and jewelry. Well, the 2021 “Intimate Relationships” intends to make artists and viewers no longer have any concerns and come to face their inner world very emotionally, open themselves and release their true feelings. We believe that whether art, artists or jewelry should be telling stories of people and should come from people.

Intimate Relationships Exhibition venue in Beijing.

Intimate Relationships Exhibition venue in Beijing. Photo by Banye Lin 林半野.

We wish to, at a higher level, express in the language of art and jewelry, rather than just present a visual feast, a novel and fun exhibition. At present, too many pretentious or aloof arts are creating a sense of distance, while visual & sensory stimulation is overflowing in the epidemic era and post-epidemic era, but we should note that the pleasant sensation from such stimulation disappears very quickly. Hopefully, when one day people no longer regard contemporary art as a means of showing off, there would probably be really good works of art. Jewelry creation is a way of expression, a language, while contemporary jewelry is just a dialect therein, and if you speak your own language well, it will affect others.

Theme of the next edition
The most important part of each opening ceremony is the announcement of the theme of the next exhibition: Felicia Li the curator announces the official launch of VONMO 3rd ”Purifying the Soul” Contemporary Art Jewelry Exhibition 2022. We begin an open call to artists all over the world. Artist may take a small part of his/her soul and make it into a jewel, and then the judges screen the Soul-works, finally curator will take the Soul-works to Qinghai and performs a "Purifying" ceremony. The 2022 “Purifying the Soul” theme may be regarded as a performance art of the curator, “we do not need people as the audience, as we are about to show the artists' "souls" to heaven and earth, and to souls of a higher dimension.” The whole process will be filmed by our team in the form of a documentary, and a film will be finally made available for online viewing. I hope that this time, we will not just superficially discuss "what is contemporary jewelry", "the boundaries between jewelry and body", or technical things, but hope that the exhibition will enable people to see that, beyond life and death, souls can have a higher level of "great love". 

Speeches by guests
Finally, several guests delivered a speech successively at the opening ceremony, including Haiyan LV, Secretary-General of Gems & Jewelry Trade Association of China (GAC) Jewellery Design Committee, Xiaoxin WANG, Associate Professor and Party Branch Secretary of Department of Art and Crafts, Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Jun HU, Associate Professor of Department of Jewelry Design, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT), and Yi ZHAO, Associate Professor of Department of Jewelry Design, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT) and judge for 2021 “Intimate Relationships”. The affirmation from the seniors gave our team great inspiration and motivation. We enjoyed the free and sincere conversations, which made us feel relaxed and comfortable.

Speeches by guests at exhibition Intimate Relationships in Beijing.

Guest speakers at exhibition Intimate Relationships in Beijing (from left to right: Chong Shi, Yi Zhao, Yunyan Gao, Felicia Li).

Guests at exhibition Intimate Relationships in Beijing (from left to right: Jun Hu, Yi Zhao, Sally Li, Xiaoxin Wang, Haiyan Lv, Felicia Li, Yusen Feng, Yunyan Gao).

Scene of the exhibition
Here are three special visitors that have come to the scene after carefully “reading” the ticket rules: Seashell (a white poodle), an elephant doll (caught unexpectedly from a doll-clip machine), and a puppy’s photo (Considering it’s too dirty to be taken here, the owner didn't bring the puppy to the scene.)

Exhibition traveling to Shanghai
"An attempt of sustainable development of contemporary jewelry inevitably needs to be promoted by both academia and industry, which is one of the purposes of the second exhibition." Academic exhibitions need to be held in a relatively mature market, so they can take root, thus we chose to hold this itinerant exhibition in Shanghai from 13rd to 17th of October.

From derivatives' sales to viewers' feedback, they are all experiments in "different soils producing different fruits". Then, on 16th Oct, a salon sharing activity was held, which was worked as a summary of the Vonmo 2nd exhibition. Whether the academic planning of Beijing exhibition or the commercial attempt of Shanghai exhibition, the exhibition is always a process of contemporary jewelry’s being bridged with the market.

Here I would like to thank all the visitors for their tears at the exhibition, their expressions about intimate relationships, their discussions on contemporary jewelry, their feelings over the current social situation, and their expectations of the industry…

Salon sharing activity at exhibition Intimate Relationships in Shanghai.

Audience picking derivative jewelry products at exhibition Intimate Relationships in Shanghai.


About the author

Felicia Li
is a contemporary art jewelry designer and curator. She is the committee member of Gems and Jewelry Trade Association of China. In 2016, she formally established the Vonmo studio and keeps exploring the innovation direction to integrate contemporary art jewelry design and traditional Chinese crafts.