A recap of the Munich 2013 experience

Published: 17.04.2013
Sanna Svedestedt Carboo, Karin Roy Andersson Sanna Svedestedt Carboo, Karin Roy Andersson
Sanna Svedestedt Carboo, Karin Roy Andersson
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It feels like it was a long time since we entered Gothenburg’s airport after the flight back from Munich, and yet it was only one month ago. We got to Munich in the beginning of the Schmuck week and as usual we got a warm welcome from the people at the Schwedische kirche.
This was our third year at the Church but unfortunately the last since the building is being torn down to be replaced by a more profitable hotel after the summer. By accident we did a good job starting the demolition process as putting up a big armature for spots almost made the roof come down. Setting up an exhibition in a worn down conference room is a short cut to a stress trauma, with no perfect white walls to reflect your work. We were not the only ones showing in an unconventional place - this year the satellite program was larger than ever before. On the thursday close to 30 shows had their opening.

Although the competition was very strong this year we got a lot of visitors. Our ambition with (ig)noble was to make an exhibition that addressed not only the “jewellery knowers” and the collectors. We wanted to make an exhibition where it was clear that the objects on display were meant to be worn and accessible even if you have a limited budget or if you are not (yet) comfortable with wearing a big unusual piece of jewellery.

We presented the pieces in four different price ranges on four tables where each of the five of us had made a predefined number of pieces. A higher price - a smaller edition. We had also made up a timetable for how long each piece in the different price groups would take to create.

We love getting feedback, here is a short summary:

- We got criticized for the presentation, there were a lot of jewellery competing over a very limited display.
- In Munich during Schmuck most of the visitors are well familiar with the relation between unique one of a kind objects and multi editions, they know the pieces on display are meant to be worn and they would not feel uncomfortable to wear a piece they liked. Some visitors felt this was nothing new.
- It was hard for our guests to clearly see the five individual projects and views on the theme (ig)noble.
- Some visitors felt that our prices were too low

+ People felt invited to try on the pieces. This was a big change from our previous satellites.
+ We sold quite a lot of pieces - both to students, people from “outside the jewellery field” and to collectors.
+ The project started a well needed discussion on how to price your work and how to value your time, including practical comments on tax provisions and book-keeping. We got a lot of positive reactions on how refreshing it was that we spoke so direct about this subject. We certainly hope that this discussion will continue!

We also found it very interesting to read the thoughts of jeweler Lisa Juen, who visited us during (ig)noble and made this summary

As an artist, your work stands free from current trends and you hardly adjust your work to fit the needs of a specific buyer. This freedom comes with a cost. Can you expect to sell your work when you take no consideration of the market? 

If there are not enough brave buyers out there, we might have to think differently about working as an artist. There are many economists, company owners and people from cultural institutions agreeing on that a strong creative cultural network has a good influence on the wealth of a community. In Sweden The Artists Organisation, KRO, and the Craftsmen and Designers' Organisation, KIF have worked hard to implement the MU-agreement. MU is a state agreement concerning artist’s participation and remuneration. The agreement works as a support and a guideline of how to think when an artist and, for example, a museum work together with an exhibition. The MU-agreement consists of two parts, a fee paid to the artists for participating and working with an exhibition and a fee for showing the artwork. This is an historic agreement that gives the artist recognition and economical remuneration for his/hers work during an exhibition. Find out more about the MU-agreement here and here

At the same time many galleries are run by artists and not larger institutions, and it might not be possible for them to sign on an agreement like MU. This brings us back to the selling issue again. How will we finance our work? It seem to be quite a common opinion in the jewellery field that the wearer/collector/buyers are too few. Why is that? During (ig)nobel we wanted to see if we could make people aware that the artwork was for sale. We did increase our sales this year. perhaps it was due to presenting the jewellery as object that are affordable in any budget range. The most commonly bought piece was the cheapest one. And the most common customer? Quite unexpectedly - The students.

Another interesting factor was what happens to the work when you are restricted to time frames such as we made up for ourselves during (ig)noble. Is it possible to make a good piece in just 4 hours or does that reduce the quality of the work? Or can a time limitation actually bring qualities to the work? The artists in the exhibition all have their own viewpoints and we can only speak for ourselves. To us the larger work were the main pieces, and the cheapest version was just a memory of the larger pieces, something small that you could take with you home to remember the more unaffordable piece by.

During (ig)noble we took it to the extreme by simplifying how to price the work, simply by setting up an hourly fee. Doing some math on this, there is no way that it all adds up in the end. So, sorry to say there is no such thing as a quick fix where you can just set a time fee and count your working hours. As we all know, this is much more complex. But one important part is to bring more people into the community and help them discover art jewelry and make it accessible to them. Diagonal found a golden opportunity on how to do this very hands on, resulting in an exhibition opening in september. Keep your eyes open for the open call for applications to be announced shortly.

This was our last exhibition at the Swedish Church in Munich. The Swedish congregation in Bavaria is looking for a new home, and hopefully we will meet you again, in a new location. We would like to thank everyone that made their way to us, up all the stairs and into the unusual environment. And a large thank you to the members of the Schwedische kirche for their support of swedish jewelry art.

Over and out

Photos by Pernilla Persson and Karin Roy Andersson

About the author

Diagonal is a collaboration between Karin Roy Andersson & Sanna Svedestedt. Our focus is to promote contemporary art jewellery. With this blog we share our views & thoughts to take you with us through the ups & downs of our jewellery adventures.