Off JOYA 2018. Artifice Device: an exhibition review with Jorge Manilla, Jordi Aparicio and Corrina Goutos

Published: 26.10.2018
Grace Horler Grace Horler
Grace Horler
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 In Poblenou lies an old mechanic garage now home to Gallery Chez Xefo, the perfect location for the Artifice Device Exhibition.  The setting went hand in hand with the pieces on show. The low-lighting, brick walls and industrial props, (plus the fact that it only opens in the evening) brought to life this rough, raw, dark and material rich exhibition. You will also find an interview between the artist and the author where Corrina Goutos answers questions on her work, the exhibition and on behalf of her fellow exhibitors Jordi and Jorge.

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Jorge Manilla, Corrina Goutos discussing their work.

As we walked in and complemented Corrina Goutos on the atmosphere and display, she turned and asked the gallery owner what the building used to be. To her pleasure, he replied with its story. The building’s history is particularly in tune with Corrina’s work, where at home in Hamburg her workshop is nothing less than a mechanics garage. She uses scrap metal aluminium to make her creations. After seeing the irony in having to buy metals for her work but also having an abundance of ‘scraps, she did the resourceful and logical thing of combining the two, building herself a forge. The ultimate design challenge of the twenty-first century is to avoid or minimise the adverse impacts of all products on the environment. I believe that jewellers and craftsmen specifically have a piqued awareness of this and the Artifice Device Exhibition strongly engaged with this heightened consciousness.

Corrina Goutos, 2018, Aluminium, Shell. 

As a sideways nod to the legacy of the modern day consumer, Corrina continues to use found objects that people can identify such as lighters, headphones and cans. She then marries them with aluminium to create hybrid trash pieces. The progression of the object’s life as it develops from being an everyday item into a piece of jewellery means each piece is given a new lease of life. Reworking and manipulating the materials to have a totally new purpose and meaning. We now know that if you polish a piece of silver it becomes shiny, but what other materials are more readily available that hold a treasure within? 
The beauty in the spontaneity of her work and the readiness of her material allows a freedom of exploration to be achieved. Truly capturing an added beauty and skill through turning one man's trash into another man's treasure.  

Corrina Goutos, Brooch, 2018 Aluminium, Cans.

Jorge Manilla is a master in material manipulation using a range of resources, often leather and wood. In this exhibition the majority of his pieces contained seaweed. The first thing that came to mind when I saw one of his pieces was that it looked like a biological specimen being dissected in a lab. As he described working with the South American seaweed, it was as if it was a living creature. The grotesque beauty that can be seen in many of his works instinctively attracts human curiosity and when you discover what the material is it, it only increases your interest. With forms like intestines to shredded snakeskin, the vast shapes, textures and colouring that can be achieved with the seaweed seem limitless to Jorge. The contrasting textures from a smooth exterior to an interior with cell-like chambers, give off a mystery as he chooses to expose certain areas and keep others hidden. Obscuring the obviousness of what the material might be. Using a different technic and part of the seaweed for each piece he builds a broader picture as the more you see,  the more captured and intrigued you become. 

Living in such a consumerist society there is an importance in being able to create using “rubbish items”. Being attracted to things that are traditionally not seen as beautiful and taking on the challenge of turning these items into desirable pieces. Although at first glance Jordi’s work looks as if it could be made from dyed onion skin or something natural it is in fact made from plastic bags. This would not be many people's go-to material but Jordi has found a way of manipulating it to create a light, soft and energetic appearance.

Their shared passion for material exploration and their seeming lack of fear in making mistakes means that they create work with no limitation. The pieces echo darkness, a seriousness and possess a deteriorating aesthetic, however, there is also a playful freedom and high level of energy in all three of the artists' work. 

Jorge Manilla, Brooch, 2018, wood, seaweed.

All three artists work displayed together at the Artifice exhibition.

Jordi Aparicio, 2018, Brooch, Plastic.

Collection of all three artists work together on a display table.

Interview with Corrina Goutos 

When you start making a new piece what is your process, How much of it is a pre formulated plan and how much do you let the material spontaneity lead you?

 My materialism begins with the creation of word webs- which help me translate concept ideas into adjectives, then adjectives into materials.  Once I have a material I am interested in I have a strict rule of not finishing or denoting what my samples are, until I have reached a certain fluidity in the materials language.  Then things get fun- arriving at 50% spontaneity 50% lightning decisions pulled from my experience, when all goes right.  This means of course lots of failures, and often weeks of consideration before I know how to bring the object into completion.

Did you have preconceived ideas of what you wanted people's attitudes/ reactions to be to this exhibition?
We certainly always hope to surprise.  For those who may have seen Jordi and Jorge’s work in one context before, we wanted to make sure they felt this was an entirely new dialogue strengthened by the incorporation of my comparatively ‘playful’ jewels.  As well as that guests draw parallels between our unusual material choices, to create their own meanings.

Considering the experiences you have had over the years - if you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice for the start-up phase, what would that be?
 I think the biggest challenge out of the gate, especially for millennials is to resist “getting inspiration” on pinterest, instagram or other social media platforms.  It is all too exciting seeing all that has been created, when oneself is just learning the basics.  The problem is though, your imagination is then not given the chance to expand and understand all that possibility- it can only regurgitate the few images of reference that you have feed it. To have a successful personal authorship you have to ask yourself what is so successful on those works and why; and then use that insight to strengthen the what and why in your work; all in a matter that speaks true to your own background, perspective and experiences.

What do you wish more people to know about your work?
 Writing is an integral part of my practice, but I often find there is little, to no, context at present for it. In the hands of scrolling instagrammer’s, it often ends up being that the work has to speak for itself.  Most people think my bag is trash, and that my intention is to be eco-friendly and elevate waste materials.  Although, this is also my intention, my fixation with rubbish stems from my interest in sociology and critic on consumerism.  I was always interested in the archetype of a souvenir- imposing a memory onto a physical object in hopes of encapsulating it for future sentimental purposes. Then later I became fascinated at how social media largely adapted this function, as an art ‘memory data base’ for all to see and reminisce.  I wanted to see through this curated self-indulgence and find the totems of our time, our universally recognizable symbols.  And this is how I arrived at mass production iconography – this material culture is the thread that ties us together, the legacy we will all represent, the diagnostic objects that tell the genuine story of the 21st century.

 For Jordi Aparicio - can you describe the method and thought process behind his making?
Jordi’s current series ”Involution” was the jumping off of a material revolution for him. Despite his traditional background, we know Jordi for his rather radical approach to working with silver.  However his recent visit to a factory left him deeply concerned about the waste disposal he saw in practice.  He took the materials the owner deemed to be unrecyclable and began to learn a new material language.  One feels the liberation in his designs and the satisfaction he has in giving waste a place.  Not to mention the delightfully fluid translation from his silver working processes, to plastic.  Jordi heats elements of the plastic rubbish fusing and sculpting them to his desire, and he incorporates fine steel frameworks into the layers, giving the pieces a satisfying practicality. His gentle handling of the materiality, account for it’s surprisingly sensual touch, not at all reminiscent of industrial materials.  Spontaneity is also one of Jordi’s favorite design elements, working in a flow of production, where pieces of all scales and functions are the outcomes.

For Jorge Manilla - How did he discover that he wanted to work with the seaweed, was there a lot of trial and error in the explortion of how the material behaved?
 Jorge discovered this specific seaweed on a trip to Chile.  There it is a part of the local diet, believed to have numerous health benefits.  He was attracted immediately to the visual properties of the material; specifically it’s very visceral, uncanny flesh-like appearance. He began handled it with a similar sensibility with which he had developed works out of leather and other once-living materials, however the seaweed had unique properties that presented many challenges.  2 years Jorge experimented, with the insight of a taxidermist and paper restorian until he developed his present technique.  Performing what he calls “mini surgeries”, Jorge succeeds in shaping the material to his desires and transforming its once slimy consistency into a well-preserved specimen, durable enough to be worn on the body. His materiality makes emotions tactile, and draws on the very universal feelings of vulnerability one experiences in the face of death and the realization of life’s ephemerality.

The three of your work obviously creates a very cohesive exhibition, with unusual material matter linking you all together. What would you say was the biggest difference in your your outcomes and the way you approach making?
 We are all quite esoteric in the sense that we are always absorbing inspiration from our travels and interactions; we’re good listeners and silent observers I would say.  This is why it is not surprising that we have all arrived at such unusual material choices.  Still I think the drive behind all the works is unique to all of us.  Jordi draws from his surroundings: the love of craft he learned from his parents and the refreshing, new perspectives of his own young children, as well as a love for his surrounding nature.  Jorge and I, both being so far from where we were socialized, have the outside perspective that allows us to explore the intense emotions tied to home.  And this is something that occupies a lot of our practice.  Of course dramatically different from another- Jorge growing up in Mexico City experienced overcrowding, extreme violence, and criminal activity, all parallel to a deeply religious culture- all of which feed the prevalence of death in his life.  My youth was shaped largely by my immigrant grandparents, who knew nothing one could buy can compare to the satisfaction of doing something of one’s own accord.  It seemed as if I had the antidote to consumerism in my hands, as everyone around me fell victim to the buy-o-sphere. My work began early to address this cultural disconnect. 

About the author

Grace Horler completed her training at the British Academy of jewellery in 2015. In 2018 she graduated with a Bachelor of Jewellery from Farnham UCA. Now, after her graduation, she has started working with Klimt02 as an intern. Meanwhile, she will continue creating her own jewellery.


© By the author. Read Copyright.