In conversation with Jie Sun, founder of Triple Parade

Interview  /  BehindTheScenes   Curating
Published: 01.06.2015
Sanna Svedestedt
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Jie Sun, photo by Thomas Aangeenbrug.
Jie Sun, photo by Thomas Aangeenbrug

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Triple Parade 2015 is an International Contemporary Jewellery Festival that took place in Tianjin, China in May 2015. Here the project organizer and curator Jie Sun explains the idea behind this ambitious project.
Tell us a little about the background, how did the initial idea to curate and organize Triple Parade emerge?
Internationalization can be an emancipatory power that liberates individuals from limitations of their local culture, but there is no doubt a homogenizing tendency that involves a levelling of cultural diversity also operates. It all depends on how we look at it, as there is nothing which should stop the globalizing force transforming the world into a new wonderland beyond our imagination. You can either restrict or expand. According to modern philosopher Osborne’s work (2013) on the fiction and appearing of contemporary, he explains that “First, structurally as idea, problem, fiction, task; and historically, in its most recent guise as the time of globally transnational.” In this sense, when this concept is transposed onto the artistic field, the meaning of contemporary appears on the subject of jewellery, in its strongest critical sense, as the artistic construction and expression of contemporaneity. It is just the time of our being, and the firm foundations of the history of the jewellery have been shaken many times before this point, whether it be from revolutionary talent, craftsmanship with technical progression, investigation in material, or simply a changing viewpoint of presentation. In fact, no one can deny that the contemporary perspective has struck the infrastructure of jewellery in a way like never before. However, what is the value and significance of jewellery in our time? How are we to wear or read or see a three-dimensional object with or without relation to the body? How do three-dimensional objects come about with new materials and craft culture, and how does that translate into new questions about form, concept and a new aesthetic? How can we bring this subject into communication with others whether socially, commercially, culturally, politically?      

Such questions are highly relevant to me, as well as to those working both with and within the visual arts landscape. An idea to have a kind of dialogue across three generations of contemporary jewellery design began with a conversation between Gijs Bakker, Lucy Sarneel and myself in Amsterdam in late 2013. This was based on the idea of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551BC-479BC) that even when walking in a party of just three, one can always be certain of learning from those one is with, there will be good qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones that will teach me what requires correction in myself. A great deal of extraordinary togetherness has occurred on the Triple Parade, which is wholly devoted to an extremely important group of people who engage with contemporary visual arts and culture in a fascinating way.
Triple parade takes place during Tianjin International Design Week 2015 in Tianjin, a metropolis in northern China. How do you experience the interests for jewellery from the audience at this event? Who is the main audience?
This year, it is with great pride that we present to you a thoroughly redesigned Triple Parade 2015 project program, consisting of the publication book, a central exhibition, conference, lecture series and design research workshops. The publication is a guide to Triple Parade 2015, with a new concept and a new approach to the content, and remains the ultimate printed platform for jewellery and related subjects. In order to make it so, I intend to invite people from a diverse range of perspectives to contribute to it. With my invitation, the recent interview of Gijs Bakker, a truly contemporary design pioneer who indeed broke the ice of what is so-called jewellery in early times, a beautiful article written by Glenn Adamson who is now directing the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York city, which gives a personal view on Craft Curation - plus, an interesting article from James Tergau, in which he brings an art and design historian’s perspective to jewellery. 

I have also invited Thomas Aangeenbrug, a Dutch photographer specialized in the sense of contemporary photography. Aangeenbrug constructs dimensional layers with space between three transparent glass sheets, making use of conventional studio techniques, in the form of tempting image and building conversation between objects in photographic images. An invitation is held out to us that transforms each piece of jewellery into a new reality. This quality guarantees a surprising result with a fresh approach. And then, the second photographer Kuai CHE in China, already moving, has grabbed the “stick” from Aangeenbrug and continued photography with a similar concept, diversifying the context yet connecting all in one series. The two photographers have never met each other in person, and so this is another interesting conversation in Triple Parade which features both. 

 Triple Parade targets not only Tianjin, but also its geographical twin city Beijing as the top creative hubs of China. As the project multi-disciplinary structure, the audience and contacts span a great range of quality professions and social groups in Tianjin and Beijing. We are trying to reach out to all groups, in order to guarantee the depth of conversation we intended. Tianjin is one of the five national central cities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing), under direct administration of the central government, with a population of 15 million in 2014.  The country is the fastest-growing market for creative industries in the world, and is expected to become the largest global jewellery consumption market by 2020. The total sales of China’s jewellery industry developed at an annual growth rate of more than 15 percent in recent years. The expansion is reflected by the massive events which are organized all over the country, such as the Beijing Design Week, DESIGN SHANGHAI, Guangzhou Design Week, Shenzhen Architecture Biennale and so on. Both Beijing and Tianjin have many manufacturing facilities and a growing clientele for jewellery  and are hosts to events and research programs on contemporary  design and jewellery. It is this dynamic that Triple Parade wants to contribute to and engage in.
Part of Triple parade is a central exhibition with work by 19 designers from Belgium, Finland and China. What is the concept behind this exhibition?

One of the main programs, the exhibition titled Dialogue, covers three spheres of jewellery, gives a positive look into the developments of contemporary jewellery with a focus on three countries, and presents a selection of 19 designers and artists lead by Hilde De Decker for Belgium, Eija Tanninen-Komulainen for Finland, Dongdong Zhuang for China. This exhibition may also travel to Helsinki/Kuopio and Antwerp within this year. In Tianjin, to build this dialogue around the display, I drew a sketch of an Iceberg as concept for the exhibition design. An iceberg may subsequently become frozen into pack ice, a form of sea ice. As it drifts into shallower waters, it may come into contact with the seabed or another piece of iceberg, and each iceberg is a unique form by its nature. This idea referred to the exhibition theme, and symbolizes the idea of having a conversation around difference of cultures, the iceberg is floating freely in open museum space while the audience has to walk between them. 

Included in the program is also an international jewellery forum with speakers from Finland, Belgium, The Netherlands and China. What subjects do you expect to be explored during this day? What kind of discussions are you hoping for?
It may seem strange to some that Triple Parade contains various professions taking part in the program, such as curator, researcher, designer, artist, gallery owner, academy director, pioneer and historian, despite the fact that they are world experts in their respective fields. Well, there is a very good reason for this, that it remains an extremely workable formula for bringing together a diverse portfolio with often greatly contrasting roles, open minded under a single comprehensive theme. At the same time, I felt a growing need for interdisciplinary interaction to hold our tried and tested ideas up to the light. For those involved here, they have not only pushed their vision forward, but they also understand their own references and bring value to the subject. The strength of the vision lies in the complexity of the tools brought into play. A creation beyond the definition of “Triple” or “Parade”, in order to find tools and conversation for the future makes possible new beginnings. It is through the plurality of “languages” of this year’s Triple Parade that the International Contemporary Jewellery Festival emerges.-2016-2016