Urban Organisms, Katja Prins Lecture in Athens reviewed by Marietta Kontogianni

Published: 22.09.2017
Katja Prins Katja Prins
Marietta Kontogianni
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Dutch jewellery artist - Katja Prins has been interested in researching the way the human body interacts with technology and the intimate relation between the human body and mechanical devices.

Ελληνική έκδοση - Greek version      View / hide description

Katja Prins. Offspring pendant, 2015. Chrome plated brass, dental resin. 100 x 65 x 60 mm. Photographer Merlijn Snitker.

Katja Prins visited Greece a few months ago, she did a workshop called Urban Organisms at Anamma Contemporary Jewelry Studio in Athens and she gave a lecture about her work. I had the chance to attend her lecture and I was impressed by the way she had organised her talk and how well structured her speech was resembling in a way her three dimension structured pieces of jewelry. What I mean by that is that her speech was structured like her pieces of jewelry are structured. In my opinion, the structure is the common feature -let's say- between her way of organizing her speech and her work. And I loved that!
When she revealed to us the things that fascinate and inspire her, and the whole concept behind her work, it was more than clear to me that her sources of inspiration related to the scientific, mainly medical, technological and industrial world, all her researches and reading in these fields, are the reasons behind this impressive structured way of thinking of this very clever female mind! For me if Katja Prins wasn’t a jewelry artist, she would be a scientist for sure! 
Katja Prins. Continuum brooch, 2008. Silver, sealing wax. 83 x 76 x 35 mm. Photographer Francis Willemstijn.

Katja Prins is a Dutch awarded contemporary jewelry artist based in Amsterdam (Holland). She was trained as a traditional goldsmith at Schoonhoven and right after she continued her studies at the art academy Gerrit Rietveld Academie.
Though she is one of the most prominent contemporary artists worldwide nowadays, she still wants to expand her knowledge and improve her technique because it is important for her to develop, so now she studies once again doing a master in Fine Arts.
Currently she participates in the collective exhibition Sacrés outils – Holy Tools in Paris that invited artists who research the thin line between tools and/or daily-life objects and jewelry to show their works at the LA Joaillerie par Mazlo gallery, during the Paris Design Week (8-16 September 2017). The exhibition will be on view until the 30th of September 2017. 
Meanwhile her work is on show at the i-land Mini Exhibition Shifting Perspectives at Atta Gallery in Bangkok, 6 September-14 October 2017.
Katja Prins will soon participate in another collective exhibition in Germany, called: Pretty on Pink. Éminences Grises in Jewellery at the Pforzheim Jewellery Museum, 27 October 2017-18 February 2018.

Works of Katja Prins are represented in the public collection of the Pforzheim Jewellery Museum/ Schmuck Museum Pforzheim, as to other museum’s collections as well, but are also acquired by private collectors and galleries.
To name but a few of the museums:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York , US
Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, NL
SM’s Stedelijk Museum‘s Hertogenbosch, NL
Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, NL
CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, NL

Katja Prins. Inter-Act necklace, 2012. Silver, reconstructed onyx and white coral, steel. ± 45 x 10 x 2 cm. Photographer Harold Strak.

Since the beginning of her career, Katja Prins has been interested in researching the way the human body interacts with technology and the intimate relation between the human body and mechanical devices. For her, the body is an instrument and instruments are extension of the body.  And that is what makes her work distinguished.
Topics that fascinate her are: industry and machines, urban surroundings and cityscapes/ architecture, medical technology, medical tools and equipment, plastic surgery, brain and neural implants, medical biology and smart drugs, DNA-genes and stemcell-technology, nanotechnology, robotics and the phenomenon The Uncanny Valley. (
She even visited a dental laboratory and a hospital in Amsterdam in the past to do an in situ research!
Katja Prins points out: These technologies raise questions: What are all these improvements doing to our humanity? On the other hand has technology made us less human?
Aren't we actually technological by nature?
Katja Prins is also inspired by the works of some contemporary artists such as: Orlan, Yael Davids, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Saskia Olde Wolbers, Jordan Wolfson and Mark Manders among others.
All this research of hers as well as the images of the works of the artists I’ve already named above, are reflected and expressed through her work and are transformed into jewelry with a cold yet soft, industrial or medical feel. Different collections refer to different aspects of the same theme: human body + technology /natural+artificial with names like: Anatorium, Machines are us, Nexus and Hybrids.

Katja Prins explains: I know that I make jewelry and jewelry should be attractive, but this is not all that important for me. To me contemporary jewelry is a medium of art and it should tell an interesting story. So, what is important for me is to intrigue people and make them wonder:  “Aren’t we going too far? Should we set limitations on the technological developments? Technology can change things for worse or for better. It depends on us.
As Ward Schrijver, art historian and architect, Amsterdam, NL (© Galerie Rob Koudijs) writes in her official website:
Prins gives us a magnifying glass, pushing us to investigate. Wear Prins's jewellery as a symbol of the autonomy of the human body and as a celebration of the infinite achievements of science, but also as a warning against unbridled, reckless ambitions. (…). Wear it as a sign of militancy, an activist's call to reflection.

About Katja Prins.
She graduated at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 1997 and has been working as an independent jewelry artist ever since. She has had solo and group exhibitions all over Europe, USA, Asia and Russia. Her work can be found in public collections such as Museum of Arts and Design New York, US, Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York , US, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam,NL,  SM's Stedelijk Museum 'sHertogenbosch, NL, Mint Museum of Craft & Design, Charlotte, USA, CODA Museum Apeldoorn, NL, Musée des Beaux Arts, Marseille, Fr,  and the Schmuck Museum, Pforzheim, DE.

About the author

Marietta Kontogianni is a Greek journalist based in Athens.
In April 2016 she founded JEWELRYbox Magazine on Facebook that aims to network with the people involved in the jewelry world. She has been working as a journalist for more than 20 years in newspapers, magazines and TV channels. Meanwhile, she had been creating fashion beaded jewelry herself. When the newspaper she was working for since 1995 bankrupted, she decided to found the bilingual (Greek-English) FB magazine
JEWELRYbox to keep on working as a journalist and to express her passion for jewelry.
Up to now, she interviewed almost all of the prominent artists that showed their works in Athens and attended all the lectures given by the renowned artists/ gallerists, curators in Athens since 2016.
Moreover, her
JEWELRYbox Magazine was a media sponsor of both Greek jewelry platforms: A Jewel Made in Greece 2017 and Athens Jewelry Week 2017. Her future plan is to have a website built dedicated mainly to the Greek jewelry world.