Interview with Bórax08001

Interview  /  Artists   BehindTheScenes   Debates   CarolinDenter
Published: 18.04.2016
Interview with Bórax08001.
Carolin Denter
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Bórax08001 is a group of 10 contemporary Jewellery Artists from 8 different countries and multiple backgrounds. Since they met more than 5 years ago at Escola Massana in Barcelona, they realised various projects, always with the objective to disseminate the idea of contemporary jewelry.
What do you have in your hands? was the first action that the Bórax08001 collective carried out in different cities. Members of the collective  went out on the streets of different cities in Europe and Latin America searching for people that probably had never heard about the concept of contemporay Jewelry.

What do you have in your hands? was the question they asked  them when they had the object in their hands.
The results of this action have been registered through photographic series and transcriptions. In 2015, the collective got invited by Joya's organizers to create a project specially designed to happen during the Jewellery Fair. Thinking about this project, they decided to bring the city and its interactions into the walls of a Contemporary Art Museum like the Santa Mònica Arts Center.

Aline and Patricia during the Lecture at JOYA 2015

After you contacted the artists of JOYA and told them about the Project, what were the first reactions?
The ten JOYA'15 artists, who we worked with, were very interested in the project. They felt motivated to carry out this “experiment” out in the streets by following simple guidelines and afterwards sending us back a video recording of their intervention. They were enthusiastic to share and be the ones to explain their own work to others.
For example, a jeweler, in response to our invitation, replied that she would do her best effort, and that she would enjoy taking her jewelry pieces out of their boxes so they could “sunbath”.

In general, participants were curious to see the reactions of people towards their creations. It's worth mentioning, that it was the first time for all participating jewelers, to present their jewelry pieces in first-person. At the same time, they got to choose a person at random and an “unusual setting or place” to show their Contemporary Jewelry pieces.

Akis Goumas, Alsoupolis, Greece

Caroline Barker, Shelly Beach, Australia

Katerina Glyka, Athens, Greece

How did you decide, that this project would be the right one, to present during Joya Barcelona 2015?
We were invited by JOYA 2015's organizers to design a project that would take place during this jewelry fair. We decided that this would be a great opportunity to continue working, check out new jewelry up close, and above all exchange ideas and experiences with others. After analyzing the event's characteristics and conditions, that it had to be presented within the Santa Mònica Arts Center in Barcelona, we thought, that it would be more coherent to set forth a project that involved the fair's participating artists own reality, rather than carry out a closed-door intervention. Doing the latter, would've been contradictory to our convictions as a collective.

One of the reasons we chose ¿Qué tienes entre las manos? was, that it was going to be perfect to take advantage of the international diversity of JOYA'15 participants. We could continue to document and collect new reactions of people as they received an object (a contemporary jewelry piece) in their hands, and could do so in new and varied cities. By carrying-out ¿Qué tienes entre las manos? special edition we also could keep up with our most recent line of work: opening our collective to the rich collaboration of other jewelers to join us in spreading Contemporary Jewelry, thus creating a sense of community.

Last but not least, the second part of this project involved projecting the collection of experiences we would receive in video format during a conference-debate, given by Bórax08001 during JOYA '15. This represented a great opportunity to generate dialogue and receive feedback between our collective's members, the group of participating jewelers and other fair's attendants present that day.

Akis Goumas answering Questions during the Lecture at JOYA 2015

Carolina Gimeno talking about her experiences with the Project during the Lecture at JOYA 2015

What do you conclude about the reactions to the unfamiliar jewelry pieces from the people in the video?
In general, people's reactions are quite varied and mostly are showing curiosity or interest when seeing something different. In fewer occasions, we find that people don't react as positively. That is, they feel confused when they don't understand certain pieces of jewelry, they question them, and tend to show signs of denial such as: “ I don't like it”, which can be interpreted as “I don't understand this”.

We believe that most of the people are interested, intrigued and curious to know what they will receive their hands. There are always reactions of surprise, and most of the time people don't recognize it's a jewel, but rather interpret it as an object and can establish relations through their own filter and references.
When they discover that it's in fact a jewelry piece or that this object in question has the capability of being worn on the body, they start to question. This in return, permits creators to reflect upon what we do and how our jewelry pieces communicate and connect with people at different levels. Something that occurs regardless of their cultural background.

The experiment of going out on the streets, choosing a person at random, and handing them one of our jewelry pieces is a vivid one. This experience permits us; on the one hand, to reflect upon and question our own practice as artists, and on the other, it gives us the possibility of engaging in dialogue with people about the existence of jewelry as an art form and its wearability. At the same time, we have been able to document these conversations and understand from them, that there are different ways of giving value to materials and the symbolic processes of an object. An object, which can convert itself into a luxury item, an object that in the eyes of a person outside the contemporary jewelry field can transform itself into something as precious as a classical jewelry piece made out of diamonds and gold. Possibilities are endless…

Audience reaction while watching the Video "Qué tienes entre las manos? special edition​" at Lecture at JOYA 2015

Why is it important for you to introduce especially people with a non artistic background to contemporary jewelry, and do you think the background is important to understand artistic jewelry?
We think that it’s necessary that professionals outside the jewelry field work alongside art jewelers. We believe there's a shortage of curators interested in our practice, since most of the time jewelers are the ones in charge of formulating and promoting their own exhibitions. We need more art critics and historians that create an open platform in junction with the rest of current artistic disciplines, as well as with the society we live in. We would like for art jewelry to develop more cult following, for it to be appreciated and experienced not only by those who have a cultural, artistic or economical background. In other words, for this artistic jewelry practice to become more real and coherent it must at some point, also come into contact with people outside our field. Jewelry should be  elements to be touched and also something what provoke reactions in people, becoming a part of people's lives, through the relations, that build up from a particular experience, an instant, or encounter, such as those generated from the series of actions we have made in the streets of different cities. Jewelry is to be lived, not only to be observed as objects shown in empty backgrounds so commonly seen in fairs, galleries or museums.

In contrast to this reality, we do believe that having a background is important for the complete integration of Contemporary Jewelry to the circuits of art and society.
Nowadays, Contemporary Jewelry moves within a small elite and we can't deny it. This situation has been dictated by events, circuits, pricing, and those who have access and can afford to buy this type of jewelry. At the end, only few collectors exist interested in our field.

In order for this to change, we need an extraordinary effort to disseminate Contemporary Jewelry through different means and oriented towards a wider public. Within the variety of public that can exist, and in very general terms, we can find people that possess a combination of “ideal” conditions which can favor them to feel attracted to jewelry as an art form. They would understand that to acquire a jewelry piece created by an artist can be as valuable as a classical piece of jewelry. By “ideal” conditions, we mean a wide cultural background combined with a high purchasing power. We consider both of these positive to appreciate and pay for the high prices set for art jewelry. These kinds of people exist all around the world, but they are unaware of our field. Links towards them should be created. One of Bórax08001's main goals has been to generate actions / interventions that facilitate encounters with people unaware of our craft in order for them to broaden their interests towards art and our field.

Do you think, just few people show interest in Contemporary Jewelry and why?
Even though the origins of jewelry date back to prehistory, its evolution has been different if we compare it with other art disciplines such as sculpture or painting. Art jewelry is relatively young, so most of the public don't recognize jewelry as an art form, but understand it as a decorative element.
It's fundamental that new generations of jewelers communicate directly with the public to show and disseminate jewelry that goes beyond being a mere decorative object for the body. It's also important that people who are interested in and sensitive to art know that jewelry can also be a means for artistic expression.  
How you will bring this topic closer to these people?
Our strategy up till now, has been to take jewelry out in the streets and to show it to people there, in an open and direct manner. Out there, people can easily recognize where jewelry belongs: to be worn on the body. They can discover what a Contemporary Jewelry piece has to offer, through a first-hand experience. They can feel it, speak with their creators and sense what's different, not only at a formal level, but also get to know the work behind, concept, and whys of each creation.

Jewelry should be an element of communication. Therefore, an encounter with a passer-by becomes crucial for both the creator of the jewelry piece and the same passer-by. We learn and have the possibility of reinvention from each encounter, every human perception and input towards what we do: jewelry.

Of course, the actions we have made up till now aren't the perfect solution or are the only way or the best formula to bring Contemporary Jewelry closer to people. They represent experiences that we keep on accumulating, and as time goes by, can lead us to create new and improved strategies to improve our projects. This feedback will in return, help us reach our goals more effectively.

What do you think is the main mistake jewelry artists make in terms of communication?
Contemporary jewelry is the result of a creative process usually done in isolation by jewelers in our workshops. We then spread this work and share information through different channels, or through networks where recipients are mainly jewelers or people that are jewelry-savvy. Together, we all seem to be moving within a closed loop that could be imagined as a ghetto.

We create jewelry to be exhibited in galleries or to form part of events related to Contemporary Jewelry. When spreading our work through different channels, the information is accessed mainly by other jewelers, making it difficult to expand our circle of influence. We find that the channels in use are saturated with similar content and that recipients are usually only jewelers, collectors or specialized gallerists.An example of this occurs during Schmuck in Munich. When you speak to people living in this city, and even to those related to the local art scene, such as Contemporary Art galleries, and ask them about Schmuck they aren't familiar with this jewelry event. Even though it's supposedly one of the biggest and a reference worldwide. The truth is that with practice we haven't been able to go beyond our borders, in spite of counting on specialized publications related to jewelry field such as magazines, newspapers, books or online platforms and social media, their recipients still belong to the same sector.

What will be the next step in this Project and for Borax?
Bórax08001 is at the beginning of a new stage. We have gone through a cycle of five years which were commemorated in 2015 with an exhibition. This exhibition showed our journey as a collective made up of 10 jewelers from 8 different nationalities since we met at Escola Massana in 2010. This new phase will be marked by the leadership of Aline Berdichevsky, Carolina Martínez Linares, Trinidad Contreras and Carolina Gimeno. These members are enthusiastic and compromised to keep on going with their goals and projects, without leaving out possible collaborations that can appear in the future with those that have participated in Bórax08001 until 2015, as well as with new artists we find along the way that are passionate for Contemporary Jewelry.

We hope to reach new goals, creating new and fruitful collaborations with regard to experimentation and spreading of Contemporary Jewelry. Thus, generating community in order to keep enriching the jewelry field as an art. We would like for the prevalence of cultural diversity to be reflected in our projects, opening up even more to the collaboration with artists of other creative disciplines. We are in the process of planning new strategies to create interventions that generate knowledge and feedback to help extend the borders of our field. Our next step is yet to be seen!

About the author

Carolin Denter is a 26 year old jeweller from Germany, working towards to her Bachelor of fine Arts at the Jewellery and Gemstone department in Idar-Oberstein. Currently based in Barcelona, working with Klimt02.