During the Crisis and the Home Quarantine, I Lost the Sense of Time and Felt I Couldn't Breathe as Before. Teaching in a Time of COVID-19

Article  /  Education   EinavBenzano   VeredBabai
Published: 21.04.2020
Einav Benzano & Vered Babai Einav Benzano & Vered Babai
Einav Benzano, Vered Babai
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Zoom Meeting with the contributing students, Photo by Einav Benzano.
Zoom Meeting with the contributing students, Photo by Einav Benzano

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Einav Benzano and Vered Babai started to cooperate during the "France-Israel season 2018" where they gave a mutual workshop at the "École boulle, Paris. Ever since they are collaborating and initiating projects in France and Israel. During the time of COVID-19 Einav Benzano came up with different ideas to keep in contact with her first-year students of the DNMADE program. It was obvious to her involving Vered Babai in her project.
I am an artist and a jewelry design teacher at the INSTITUT de BIJOUTERIE de SAUMUR in France. During the COVID-19, when everyone is quarantine and staying under uneasy conditions, everything had to be readjusted: with no tools, no workshop, no soldering and no metals, I had to find a solution that will make it challenging for my students to continue working. I initiated 3 projects. 

The Corona Jewel Project: My students were asked to create a piece that expresses their current feelings, like frustration, anger, helplessness, loneliness. I was interested to see their translation from feelings and thoughts to materials. Two of the interesting results were of the students Marine Laroche and Louise Ginioux.

Marine Laroche, Mask, Avec nos larmes et le temps qui passe pourrions nous respirer à nouveau,32 x 13 x 2.5 cm, ready made, 2020.

"During the Covid-19 crises, and the home quarantine, where I lost the sense of time and felt I couldn't breathe as before, the Corona Jewel Project enables me to keep my feet on the ground and led me to an introspective and deep work, involving a family context. I was dealing with the idea of tears and the meaning of time and suffering. Being of a curious nature, and with lack of material at home, I felt the push to seek, test and open up to all fields possible!" / Marine Laroche

Louise Ginioux, Necklace, Les baisers manqués, 2020, ballons, metal, 40 x 40 x 2 cm.

A Collective Jewelry: A a joint project that is still running and designed as a duplicated necklace. Each member is taking the lead in her turn and adds her part to the necklace. The other participants are duplicating her part, exactly as possible, with reachable materials found at home. On the end of the project, each one will have the same necklace, made of the unique voices of all participants.

 Manon Girard, Collective necklace, 2020, 40 x 40 x 8  cm.

"The project of the Collective Jewelry taught us to work with the equipment we have at hand, under the constraints of the confinement which did not prevent us from working as a team. The necklace includes units of each of the students in the class with their own story based on the given theme, "voyage". This necklace turned us a bit from students to teachers when we had to teach and explain to others how we made our piece from start to finish. So that obliges us to study each stage of the conception to be able to share and explain it in a clear way to our colleagues." / Manon Girard 

"The Collective Jewelry was a daily virtual meeting, and in my opinion a place where each one could make a difference. Each one of us was able to express its personality and experiment with materials accessible at home during the confinement period. It is also a way of appropriating gestures or a way of apprehending the jewel which one did not have, but which other students of the class are having. It’s like taking a little from each one of us, to enrich our creations to come. What I really appreciated was the surprise effect created: we couldn't wait to find out what the next person is going to do. Then we feel the challenge of having to carry out almost identically, with our means, this unit of the necklace within two days. It also allows us to stay connected and united despite the distance. At the end of confinement, each one of us will find herself with an identical jewel, without having seen each other once, and without having interacted in real life. This makes you think about all the possibilities offered by the digital technology". / Louise Ginioux

After 2 weeks I felt that my students had less motivation to create, feeling confused and carrying lots of doubts. This brought me to initiate the third project.

ZOOM on a Creature/Collector/ Curator: The idea was to organize a live meeting between my students and established artists from all over the world. I hoped that those meeting will serve as a source of inspiration and interest.
One of the studio meetings was in Tel- Aviv, with Vered Babai. She prepared a mini-exhibition in her workshop, talked about her past and recent work, and shared some thoughts about creation in such a period. For the students of the Institut de bijouterie - who often directed to follow the tradition of "Haute Joaillerie" and design decorative jewelry focused on metal techniques, meeting an artist who works on the field of contemporary jewelry, and combines hand skills with a personal statement was essential. It allowed them to channel their current concern to an individual and refined conception of work. Charged with fresh motivation and understanding of the necessity to continue their research, especially now, led them to came up with beautiful ideas.

Vered Babai, Mini Expo, 2020, Photo by Vered Babai.

Vered Babai, Bead, Touch Wood, 2019, Pencil Shavings, 5 x 5 x 5 cm, Photo by Vered Babai.

Vered Babai, Bracelet, Circuits, 2015, found twigs, 12 x 12 x 16 cm, Photo by Vered Babai.

Vered Babai, Object, Losing Time, 2015, fine silver, 11 x 3.5 x 3.5 cm, Photo by Eli Gross.

"Artists, creators, or even curators share their stories with us and show us their workshops from a distance. We are immersed in a different atmosphere and intimacy at each meeting, it feels like travelling. This is much more difficult in terms of organization when it comes to physical travel. For example, we could not have been accommodated at Vered Babai's studio in Tel Aviv other than by internet. Personally, I take this confinement test as a real opportunity to open up to new thoughts, to enrich myself, and to move forward thanks to the experience of others. This motivates me and allows me to project myself beyond this crisis situation." / Louise Ginioux

This is a complex period that is not yet over. I hope as a teacher that with those projects and zoom sessions, my students will be inspired and find a new meaning of creation. I am sure that they will express their unique voices as artists who can influence and make a change, especially now. 

Einav Benzano, Necklace, Density, 2018, fine silver, oxide, 40 x 40 x 7 cm, Photo by Jerome Paressant.

Einav Benzano, Necklace, Choking me, 2019, fine silver, 925 silver ball, 40 x 40 x 4.5 cm, Photo by Laurent David- Larmet.

Thanks goes to the contributing students: Fanny Bonardet, Blandine Coutaz, Naïs Coutouly, Florette Dugast, Laure Delmas, Louise Ginoux, Manon Girard, Anaïs Lassalle, Marine Laroche and Calista Leroux. 

About the author

Einav Benzano, born in Israel. At the age of 20 years old I immigrated to France, where I live for the past 30 years. After 15 years as a professional theater actress, I studied jewelry design and opened my atelier/boutique 15 years ago at the Loire Valley, Fontevraud l’Abbaye. Over the years I have participated in group and solo exhibitions. I mostly work with fine silver thread and design constructions and spacious shapes that contain my personal story - a story of immigration, of longing, of memories. My life story. For the recent years, I am giving workshops in contemporary jewellery. This year I joined as part of the teacher's team to the Institut de Bijouterie de SAUMUR, France.  I teach about the process of creation through contemporary jewelry projects.

Since her graduation from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, the department of Jewelry Design in 1993, Vered Babai moved to Tel-Aviv and opened her private studio. Her works were exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world and gain some awards like the "American Israel Craft Foundation Prize for art and sculpture" and the "Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport Prize for Design". She had several personal exhibitions in Paris, Trieste and Izola. Vered was teaching at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, and at Hastudio, Ra'anana, Israel. For more than 20 years she is giving private lessons in her studio. Recently she is working as well as a curator in the field of contemporary jewelry.