Talking Face to Face. Review of the Jewellery Week in Munich 2020. Part 2/2

Published: 31.03.2020
Carolin Denter Carolin Denter
Carolin Denter
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Due to COVID-19, the Jewellery Week in Munich was this year reduced to its core: it felt like the beginnings of Schmuck some years ago said many. From about 63 exhibitions still on, I visited 13 to analyze the mood, see some good works and talk with the artists.

This is the second and last part of the review in which i talk about 5 of those exhibitions.
The second day in Munich was a little bit more stuffed than I expected because quite suddenly all museums and federal institutions got restrictions to close down the next day. So, while following my program, I tried to pack as much as possible in one day. 

While visiting many exhibitions, I enjoyed talking to artists and galleries so much, that I was not completely possible to catch up with my schedule. I think, everyone who was at the "Schmuckwoche" this year, experienced this at a certain point: The urge to slow down, to talk with the few who are exhibiting and visiting, get rid of the usual jewellery week feeling, always worrying to miss out something. This year was different than in the last years: As it turned out not to be a good event for the galleries and most of the artists because mainly collectors refused to travel because of the COVID19 issue, for us visitors it was a good experience.

The artists agreed on the positive points, they had time for discussions, fruitful conversations emerged and they received mostly positive feedback or empowering words about their collections. Of course, that doesn't help to cover costs or pay bills, but in contrast to the galleries, the mood was positive throughout, at least where I visited. The gallery owners, on the other hand, found it a bit harder to see the situation positively, knowing what hard times they will have to face, even though a few weeks ago we couldn't grasp the true extent of it. 

As I write this review, it becomes clear in retrospect how recklessly we acted, despite the already critical situation in Italy, Spain or even Munich, the then Corona hotspot of Germany, to exhibit and go about our normal working day. I have received e-mails that speak of regrets about canceled exhibitions but also e-mails full of desperation and anger about the situation.

All these feelings are understandable and valid, we all face a situation we have never been in before.
Even if not everything went as planned, I could still see some outstanding exhibitions, and I am proud of all those who decided to exhibit, just as I am proud of all those who already knew more than us and stayed at home. 

By no Means Gentle and Dreamy
​Isabelle Dammermann's exhibition Portraits of an Inner Universe, located in a cozy studio in the Luisenstrasse in Munich showed works of her newest collection with the same name. In her pieces, she is reflecting on the roles in life we take over and how we correspond to them. Since Isabelle graduated from Alchimia in 2008, she lives and works in Germany with her family.

Exhibition view of Isabelle Dammermanns Portraits of an Inner Universe.

In the room, there are fresh flowers, the artist sits on a baroque upholstered chair. One simply wants to stay, for a coffee, it is inviting and sweet. Looking at her pieces, all of them appear soft and gentle, give the impression that the inner universe of the artist is a girlish dream. But then, after all the gentleness slowly gives way to reality, other images appear in my head. The tone that the artist strikes is by no means only gentle and dreamy. 

I see black colour on the fabrics, enveloped shapes and hard materials, I see heavy chains that seem light. The photographs at the walls are vague and nebulous. She is dealing with topics, such as femininity and the struggles that go with it. 

Exhibition view of Isabelle Dammermanns Portraits of an Inner Universe.

After a conversation with the artist, I hear that she is proud of the collection. She is (soon) a mother of two and has dared to do the balancing act of finding her way back into professional life. Because she will soon give birth to her second daughter and has to take a break, it was important for her to present the outcomes of her hard work in Munich. Afterward, she says, she will take a longer break, but cant wait to start again as she has enough ideas for new collections.

In Front of Locked Doors
At the next exhibition, MEME at The gallery of Ellen Maurer Zilioli, I stand in from of locked doors, with a white note in the window: due to health issues the exhibition only opens on request, so I walk through an inner courtyard to the "Craftswomen", where I also meet Yasmin Matzakow, who opens the rooms for the MEME exhibition to me and some others interested. She gives us a short introduction and explains: The exhibition shows the work of the students of the Jewellery and Hollowware class from Munich Academy. Every year, 5 students get the task to develop an exhibition concept for all of them. This year it was the theme MEME.

Exhibition view of MEME at gallery Ellen Maurer Zilioli.

But MEME does not only stand for the funny internet picture of a cat (or whatever): 

Meme is understood to be a socio-cultural concept that spreads and undergoes corresponding changes. Its essence is spread, connects here and there, new connotations being made and is in a constant process of renewal. Messages, statements, declarations, and insights mix interactively with the respective situations, where they appear and link to new contexts, thus being exposed to interventions that can lead to variations, mistakes, and errors. Therefore the exhibition concept should not be seen as evaluation, but rather understood as an illumination of the dynamic relationships between information and memes (from the concept description of the class). If we look at jewellery as a medium, as a carrier of information and meanings, then it acts like a meme. Every work starts with an artist, their personal background, way of thinking, their standpoint. Then the jewellery migrates to the next context and gains another layer. Layer after layer and signal on top of the signal, meanings are accumulated. Jewellery is enriched by exhibiting, through contemplation, through acquisition, through transference, by travelling, through the shift of looking at and being seen. It holds these individual experiences and qualities in condensed form. / Ellen Maurer Zilioli

Exhibition view of MEME at gallery Ellen Maurer Zilioli with rings by Paul Adie.
Exhibition view of MEME at gallery Ellen Maurer Zilioli.

The students decided to present their work on overlapping printed truck tarpaulins with images of street views and maps on it, which filled the rooms well but made it somewhat difficult to capture the jewelry. 

The Rich Emptiness
After the MEME exhibition, I was heading to the soon to be closed Villa Stuck, to see the solo exhibition of Lisa Walker, She wants to go to her bedroom but she can't be bothered. Once I arrived, I had only 30 minutes left to see the whole exhibition. When I entered the main exhibition halls to the museum, I was not sure if this is manageable, since the rooms are, excuse the trivialities, huge. 

Lisa Walkers solo exhibition at Villa Stuck, the ground level.

Lisa Walkers solo exhibition at Villa Stuck, the ground level.

To this day I am still not quite sure about the exhibition, whether what the curators and the artist had in mind was really successful. Perhaps it was due to my rather short stay in the rooms and one should have planned for more time to stay. 

Lisa Walkers solo exhibition at Villa Stuck, second floor.

I can't shake off the impression that the rooms seemed empty, although this was obviously not the case. Apart from the color scheme of the walls, which the artist herself has taken on and what was an enormous project, the museum showed works by Lisa Walker from 1988 to the present day, from a wide variety of her creative cycles. 

Lisa Walkers solo exhibition at Villa Stuck, third floor.
Lisa Walkers solo exhibition at Villa Stuck, third floor, detail view of a necklace.

As always when I am confronted with the works from Lisa Walker, it is fun to watch, there is just nothing that seems impossible. 

Many Visitors to Support the Graduates
From one of the most known jewellery artists, I went to the opening of some newbies, which means almost freshly graduated students, that showed their impressive works in the DIA room fro art in Munich. I am talking about 4000 with works by Barbora Jamrichová, Kun Zhang, Merlin Meremaa and Triin Kukk. Some of the artists met during their times in Idar-Oberstein, and in an interesting way their works go really well together. 

Opening of 4000.
Opening of 4000.

All of the jewellery pieces have an object like character, at the same time strong and fragile looking. Talking with Khun Zhang, the group was one of the only ones who told me they had many visitors, even more than expected. As for the opening ceremony, I think many jewellers have been interested in the fresh jewellery, as well as many students have been interested to see how other graduates are dealing with the life "after" university. 

Exhibition view of 4000.
Exhibition view of 4000.
Exhibition view of 4000 with an object of Khun Zhang.

Big Names - Small Space
The next exhibition I was really looking forward to, was the LOVE exhibition with Alexander Blank, Eunmi Chun, Stefan Heuser, Therese Hilbert, Christian Hoedl, Melanie Isverding, Jiro Kamata, Otto Künzli, Mirei Takeuchi and Florian Weichsberger at NOMYA in Munich. I read in advance, that it will be in an old Bavarian restaurant, which is nowadays one of the most famous Japanese restaurants in the city, and the jewellery will be presented in the restrooms. 

Outside view of the exhibition Location which is only opened at night.

It was a funny idea, and entering the toilet I was really surprised to see the dimensions of the exhibition. As you expect the artists to do something really prominent and big, it was a refreshing little side cut to all the exhibitions and the jewellery week itself who got bigger and bigger every year. 

Exhibition view at the girls restroom at NOMYA.
Exhibition view at the ladies' restroom at NOMYA.
Exhibition view at the ladies' restroom at NOMYA.

And, as a funny little twist, there was another window in the men's restroom with the works of Jiro Kamata and Eunmi Chun.  

Exhibition view at the men's restroom at NOMYA.

What Stays is Mixed Feelings and Hope
Looking back, the Jewellery Week 2020 in Munich was giving me mixed feelings. The first time in ages, I had really interesting productive talks and discussions in a not private frame, but at the galleries and event places. But as well the first time I remember, I felt fear, I felt a distance, insecurity and I felt stress which has been not related to jewellery and the number of exhibitions to choose from or released by a massive amount of visitors. Many times I could almost forget about the situation until a new regulation from the government was announced or artists packed during their exhibitions to leave the country in a hurry because their home countries borders closed. Or in those moments when you shout hello to a friend instead of giving him a big hug. Mainly, we all took it with a certain humor, what else can you do. 

But the experience left me wondering, how the rest of the year will look like if there is any other event happening, and if the government loosen its restrictions, how much museums, galleries, and artists will be able to reopen and take part in the market as we know it? What are the efforts we will make to continue as before the Virus, and what will be left and finally, will there be things that have changed for the better?


About the author

Carolin Denter completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. In 2017 she graduated as Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at the University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein, where she worked as Scientific Assistance in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement till the end of 2019. Since 2020 she is working at Klimt02 as Content and Marketing Manager.