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Skin and Feathers. Some stray reflections on and around jewellery (*)

Article  /  CriticalThinking   PravuMazumdar
Published: 07.05.2019
Pravu Mazumdar Pravu Mazumdar
Author:
Pravu Mazumdar
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Eunmi Chun. Necklace: The Blue Bird, 2018. Intestine of cow, thread, ink, sketch.. 57 cm x 28 cm x 3.5 cm. Photo by: Mason Douglas. Eunmi Chun
Necklace: The Blue Bird, 2018
Intestine of cow, thread, ink, sketch.
57 cm x 28 cm x 3.5 cm
Photo by: Mason Douglas
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
Skins, scales, feathers speak different languages as they seal up organs and blood vessels into biological packages that skim through the oceans, trudge along their arduous paths on the surface of the planet or glide high above mountains and plains.
1.
Thinking is not only an abstract act of intellectual reckoning, but also a state of responsive intelligence permeating our bodies and navigating us through our daily entanglements on the physical, emotional and creative planes. In this sense, dance can be experienced as an embodied reflection on space and the mind of an angler can be sensed in the hand curled around the fishing rod. Similarly, the movement of fingers on the keyboard of a piano are a visible extension of the musical thinking unfolding within the body of the performer, whereas the same fingers on the keyboard of a computer simply reproduce the dictates of a cerebral algorithm.

 
2.
Between anything that touches and anything that is touched is the skin, which not only sends out signals like lustre, youth and freshness from within, but also absorbs impulses from without, to pass them on to the brain where they can be analysed, interpreted and responded to in due time. The skin is an interface, revealing an inside and crafting responses towards an environment, or thinking an outside by opening up to stimuli. And when it becomes a foundation or support for structures of metal, stone, pearls, etc., then it draws in the elements of the world into its own cycle of impression and expression, transforming them into jewellery and enabling the enhancement of a wearer’s body.

 
3.
However, its intermediary position between an inside and an outside lets the skin be afflicted with the same mysterious hybridity that characterises all limits and thresholds. Is it still part of a body? Or is it already part of the environment? Is it still an organ covering all other organs, a spread of epidermis capable of being seen, touched, injured? Or is it already a material functioning to shield or mask or ornament an invisible inside? Or is it neither the one nor the other, but simply an immaterial and intermediary space of difference?

 
4.
Skins, scales, feathers speak different languages as they seal up organs and blood vessels into biological packages that skim through the oceans, trudge along their arduous paths on the surface of the planet or glide high above mountains and plains. They speak water, earth, air, as they define the boundary between an organism and its environment, carving out velocities and the curvature of motion through a medium. With humans, the skin is in addition the starting point of things like tattoo, dress, mask, jewellery.
 

5.
In a somewhat different sense, the skin is the starting point of Eunmi Chun’s wingworks: winged necklaces derived from the intestinal membranes of cows, from which also her early brooches emerged as honey-coloured, translucent representations of animals like polar bears, zebras, gorillas, giraffes. In her wingworks, the membranes are cut and sewn on both sides of a cotton gauze and painted to simulate the feathers of a wing. Placed around the neck, they carry the promise of flight and freedom.

 
6.
If jewellery ever functioned as a technique for enhancing the human towards the divine, as its archaic beginnings seem to suggest, then these pieces can be felt as an invocation of transcendence through the metonymy of height.


.......

(*) Based on Pravu Mazumdar's contributions to the booklet for Die denkende Haut /Thinking Skin (curated by Iris von der Tann), Munich, March 2018.

 

About the Interviewee

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.

 
Eunmi Chun. Brooch: Giraffe, 2011. Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, seeds, silver.. 23 x 8 x 9 cm. Photo by: Eunmi Chun. Eunmi Chun
Brooch: Giraffe, 2011
Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, seeds, silver.
23 x 8 x 9 cm
Photo by: Eunmi Chun
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Eunmi Chun. Brooch: Gorilla, 2010. Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, seeds, silver.. 13 x 14 x 10 cm. Photo by: Eunmi Chun. Eunmi Chun
Brooch: Gorilla, 2010
Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, seeds, silver.
13 x 14 x 10 cm
Photo by: Eunmi Chun
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Eunmi Chun. Brooch: Polar bear, 2010. Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, seeds, silver.. 10 x 15 x 8 cm. Photo by: Eunmi Chun. Eunmi Chun
Brooch: Polar bear, 2010
Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, seeds, silver.
10 x 15 x 8 cm
Photo by: Eunmi Chun
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Eunmi Chun. Brooch: Zebra, 2011. Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, silver.. 12 x 4 x 7.5 cm. Photo by: Eunmi Chun. Eunmi Chun
Brooch: Zebra, 2011
Human hair, goldleaf, small intestine of cow, silver.
12 x 4 x 7.5 cm
Photo by: Eunmi Chun
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Eunmi Chun. Necklace: Wing of the blue bird 1, 2018. Small intestine of cow, thread, ink.. 61 x 31 x 4 cm. Photo by: Mason Douglas. Eunmi Chun
Necklace: Wing of the blue bird 1, 2018
Small intestine of cow, thread, ink.
61 x 31 x 4 cm
Photo by: Mason Douglas
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Eunmi Chun. Necklace: Wing of the blue bird 2, 2018. Small intestine of cow, thread, ink.. 51 x 29 x 3 cm. Photo by: Eunmi Chun. Eunmi Chun
Necklace: Wing of the blue bird 2, 2018
Small intestine of cow, thread, ink.
51 x 29 x 3 cm
Photo by: Eunmi Chun
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Eunmi Chun. Necklace: Wings 1, 2017. Small intestine of cow, thread.. 50 x 28 x 2 cm. Photo by: Eunmi Chun. Eunmi Chun
Necklace: Wings 1, 2017
Small intestine of cow, thread.
50 x 28 x 2 cm
Photo by: Eunmi Chun
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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