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Being Critical Is About Making Choices. About Critique. Interview with Nichka Marobin

Published: 05.11.2019
Being Critical Is About Making Choices. About Critique. Interview with Nichka Marobin.
Author:
Carolin Denter
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2019
.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
From the first five interviews about critique, we received many answers and ideas. But more important: more questions came up. We go into a second round of interviews and talk with people from the contemporary jewellery scene to answer questions about censorship, morality and what value criticism has towards the transformation of society.

In this second interview of our new series about critique, we talk with Nichka Marobin, an Italian art historian specialized in Dutch and Flemish art history. In 2011, she founded “The Morning Bark”, a bloGazette on arts and humanities, where she posts about arts with a multidisciplinary path, including fine arts, books, fashion and contemporary jewellery.
Please give us an insight into your approach on how to deal with criticism, beeing critical and critique. How is your personal understanding of these three terms and in which situations you give or receive them?
First of all, I would like to thank you for including me in this series of interviews in the critical forum. As an art historian, this is very challenging for me.
My background of studies lies in art history and, as an art historian, I deal with critics in order to „build“ the reception of a specific work through the documents, the sources and the texts I have in my hands. Talking about contemporary jewellery, I can say that it is a great privilege to get in touch with the authors instead of questioning the documents, but being critical is about making choices, making separations and confrontations and going beyond the piece, in order to build that relevance the works need to be opened to the public.


There are many different ideas on how the contemporary jewellery world should handle critique and criticism. Some people think there is not enough, some people think there is no place for „loud critique“ anymore. Others wonder, who can be in the position of being a critic. What is your thought on this, where do you see chances and where are dead ends?
In my opinion, the world of contemporary jewellery is still very young as regards critics: coming from another field of studies such as art history, I’ve noticed that something was (is) inevitably missing: the distance between the work of art and the person who writes about that. In the field of contemporary jewellery, with some exceptions, people who write about contemporary jewellery are also makers. On one hand, this closeness is very useful to unveil and to develop the technical aspects of a work, on the other hand, this closeness slows down the process of a critical consciousness towards the works.
In recent years, thanks also to social platforms and online journals, the publishing of articles, books and reviews has constantly increased, spreading the news and expanding the views. The dialogue is always welcomed, especially among makers, wearers, teachers, gallerists, collectors, curators….


Moral and normative ethics are questioned to be the basis of our theory of society. Which role do you think morality plays and is criticism necessary for the transformation of society?
Our world is changing fastly and we have to find new answers and new perspectives Morality is something we have inherited from the past and we have to keep that as historical memory in order to understand our present and our future. And in this sense criticism is always necessary to build something new.


As stated in our previous interviews, there is critique involved in the process of making, but it is not a critique of oneself as a maker. It lies in the act of transforming a material by envisioning an alternative. How do you think we can strengthen a form of criticism, which supports the process of integrating jewellery to a bigger area, such as craft, art, environment (…), and what are the questions we should deal with?
I think that makers are always questioning themselves about their works, their projects and about the different criteria of quality they have to follow in order o achieve what they want. Each form of art requires endless and constant adjustments, this is already a form of criticism, I think.
As regards the integration of contemporary jewellery ina bigger area, I do not think we need it, because, in my opinion, contemporary jewellery is already art.

 
  • I think that makers are always questioning themselves about their works, their projects and about the different criteria of quality they have to follow in order o achieve what they want. Each form of art requires endless and constant adjustments, this is already a form of criticism, I think.


How do you think, we can avoid the misunderstanding of criticism as a self judgmental practice, and to see it more as a fruitful, exploratory and descriptive thing?
I think that we all have to improve the dialogue among the different „actors“ of contemporay jewellery scenes in order to have the most comphensive overview of this field. Improving a serious, critical, qualitative dialogue among teachers, makers, wearers, gallerists, curators, and Directors of public institutions, writers, historians, and art critics. Everybody has to be involved in the dialogue, with the help of good essays and articles: there is no objectivity without subjectivity.


How would you define the “contemporary” in contemporary jewellery? It’s rather a question of a calendar, a (post)historical condition or on the contrary, is the contemporary an always raising condition, a pure virtually… To conclude, why do you think we use the term “contemporary” instead of “modernity” (as an easy escape route, as Pravu Mazumdar suggested in a previous interview) Which words would you like to use, to define the jewellery we are talking about, and why?
Modernity and contemporaneity are complex systems: they are faceted concepts and categories always in transformation and in constant discussion. If we look at them from a historical perspective, the answer comes out naturally; if we think at them from an aesthetical approach, the concepts are subverted.
There are works of jewellery made in past centuries and, for example, during Classical times, that are still modern. In this sense, I might say that modernity has no time while contemporaneity is much more related to our present time, but I am still thinking to a proper definition.
I think that my journey as a curator lies also in this: to find the right words able to connect the world of images and vice-versa.


Peter Deckers said critics are a link in the jewellery discourse chain, an important community connection, a voice that brings the audience into the exhibitions. Could you tell us more about how you share your critical thoughts, good or bad, and where you find a safe space to communicate them?
I found my blog in order to have a space to communicate my paths and ideas about art. I keep the feet in both camps: one of Renaissance art history and contemporary jewellery. The constant dialogue between past and present is the result of the different exhibition projects I have conceived and curated. The very interesting thing is the public reception of those projects.


What are the leading publications and critical thinkers driving debate about contemporary jewellery in your country? Please explain to us shortly, what do you appreciate about them.
When I approached the field of contemporary jewellery, I read Roberta Bernabei’s book "Contemporary Jewellers. Interviews with European Artists​ and "the great dictionary of jewellery" edited by Maria Cristina Bergesio and Lia Lenti. I approached the different studies of the Padua School of Art thanks to the publications edited by Graziella Folchini Grassetto and the different catalogues of "Pensieri Preziosi" edited by Mirella Cisotto Nalon. In the meantime, I started visiting Schmuck; I widened the horizon with the essay of Liesbeth Den Besten. Successively I discovered KLIMT02 and read the different essays and articles by the art historians. Then I associated with AGC (Associazione Gioiello Contemporaneo), which promotes the culture of contemporary jewellery in Italy and abroad. It is very hard for me to be always updated on what is going on in the field of contemporary jewllery, but social platforms as KLIMT02 and Art Jewellery Forum help me a lot.


Critical thinking is defined as the process of forming judgments based on the objective analysis of factual evidence - with analysis being rational and skeptical as well as an independent and unbiased evaluation as Theo Smeets stated in his interview about critique. On the other hand, there are events such as the german Zimmerhof Symposium, which was titled „ We are family“, pointing out, that the jewellery world is like a family. Many people experience that all private, social and professional contacts they have, are built on „friendship“ or family-like structures. This seems to be controversial. How do you experience to manage the balancing act between the requirement of beeing professional under these circumstances, and how do you experience it in your surroundings?
This is an interesting point and the two aspects are two „conceptual couples“ that stand as opposites for the critical approach. If I look at my personal experience, I might say that I am very lucky, because I always had the opportunity (or chance?) to work with professional people - both artists and gallerists - who really appreciate my projects and who always improve my choices and my works providing solid suggestions and perspectives which helped and helps me a lot.
As regards families, they could be the most heavenly places as well as the most terrifying ones at the same time.


Dealing with critical writing, there seems to be still a controversial aesthetic dynamic: Not only on academic platforms, but also in magazines and websites (so seemingly „general audience“ venues) seems to be a contradiction where academic writing is taken to be not only bothersome and difficult for contemporary audiences, but the accepted critical standard at the same time. Do you think, this can be part of the problem? Where do you see chances for a change?
Our times never cease to surprise me: we all live in the so-called „age of communication“, but nobody seems truly communicate. People ask for precise answers to their questions, but when the answers are extremely precise, and maybe longer than 140 types, they become suddenly boring and attention decreases. Everything must be fast, new…and swallowed, and people do not read anymore.
Knowledge requires time and preciseness, and preciseness requires care and attention. Words require care and attention as the practice of all arts. We cannot reduce our work as a „like“ on a social platform. We have to re-establish the value of time in order to build our own critical view on things, to create a dialogue that is part of communication.

 
  • Knowledge requires time and preciseness, and preciseness requires care and attention. Words require care and attention as the practice of all arts


Since we all, as artists, brands or institutions, start using social media more and more for self-marketing purposes, it seems to me that self-reflection, self-critics and empathy are disappearing more and more. As most of us know, we have the possibilities to „block“ any person on your channels, which do not agree with us. I get the impression, that people use this, to create their own little online Utopia. Do you think, that this behavior and the censored contents of social media make us less capable of dealing with criticism? Or could it be a new way of being a critic?
In my opinion, the creation of small online Utopias never helps for professional growth. Art opens the eyes and always provided and arose questions: What will be the result if we still persist on working on our two inches of ivory? In this sense, for contemporary jewellery, I think that we need projects able to widen the horizons of creativity and dialogue among the different forms of art.


Would you be interested in a workshop, class, online tutorial (…) to learn and receive training in this area? What would you like to see there?
Yes, of course! I really would like to follow some workshops on curatorial theory and practice, words and images are in constant dialogue in my profession, and dialogue - when is fertile - is always welcomed.
Eyes and mind have to travel. Always.
Many thanks for your attention.



PLAYLIST
  • SIMEON TEN HOLT, Canto Ostinato for two pianos and two marimbas, Kontor New Media Music and Brilliant Classics.

 

About the Interviewee

Nichka Marobin is an Italian art historian specialized in Dutch and Flemish art history. She graduated at the faculty of letters of Padova (Italy) with a dissertation on Renaissance ornament prints from 1500 to 1550 in Germany and the Low Lands, focusing on the migration of forms, themes and styles on the engravings of Cornelis Bos, Cornelis Floris II, Lucas van Leyden and the German Little Masters. In 2011, she founded “The Morning Bark”, a bloGazette on arts and humanities, where she posts about arts with a multidisciplinary path, including fine arts, books, fashion and contemporary jewellery.
 

About the author


Carolin Denter completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. In 2015 she made an Internship at Klimt02, where she is working since 2016 as Content Manager. In 2017 she graduated with Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein
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