Juggling and Jewellery. A Conversation with an outsider about Munich Jewellery Week

Published: 14.03.2018
Tyrant Fisch Tyrant Fisch
Yuxi Sun
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Photo from Pei Wu..
Photo from Pei Wu.

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In 2016, my host Tyrant described Munich Jewellery Week as an underground subculture of wearable art. I am curious about how he drew this conclusion and also his thoughts about this biggest event in jewellery world now, and as an outsider, how he views our world.

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Tyrant Fisch (online pseudonym), he is originally from San Francisco and now lives in Munich. He has worked as an English teacher in his institution for more than fourteen years. I know him from 2016 March. The first time we met, I was a Couchsurfing user and Tyrant was my host in Munich. We then became friends. During my stay in Munich 2016, Tyrant heard about Munich Jewellery Week for the first time, although he had been living in Munich for two years. It surprised me he had no idea about Munich Jewellery Week until we met, even the advertisement was everywhere, in my eyes.

For three years in row, this being the 3rd year, I have come for Munich Jewellery week, as well the 3rd time I have stayed with Tyrant. We went to big IHM (Internationale Handwerkmesse Munich) together, running from one gallery to another on weekend.

In 2016, after the stay with Tyrant, he wrote me a reference (ruled on Couchsurfing website). In the reference, he mentioned the Munich Jewellery week and described it as underground subculture of wearable art. I am curious about how he drew this conclusion and also his thoughts about this biggest event in jewellery world. As an outsider, how he views our world.

- As far as I know, you are an art fan in general. What do you think about the jewellery you see during the Munich Jewellery Week? What group of art do they belong to? Comparing with a painting on the wall,  what’s the difference for you?
I categorize the artistic jewellery, or jewellery art, as sculpture. The difference to other forms of sculpture is that you carry it around with you and show it to people as you walk around, as opposed to only those people you invite into your house, or wherever you can place the art you buy.

-In 2016, you described what you see as “underground subculture of wearable art”. Does this idea change now? If does, what is your new definition of art jewellery?
I suppose “underground” and “subculture” are redundant, but other than that, no change. You are asking me for a definition of “art,” really. I have not studied the Philosophy of Art or Aesthetics properly, but having studied philosophy, I have spent time considering definitions and the effect of defining something one way or another. In addition, I have spent some time for myself and in connection with you thinking about this concept.
I am tempted to say that everything humans make can be seen as art, because everything we make is an expression of our lives and how we are dealing with our circumstances. And if we look historically or archaeologically, every scrap of paper, cutlery, weapon or decoration can be significant in understanding a person and a culture. And I have a strong anti-elitist position, so, I would like to think that every person is valuable, that every expression is important: that a sonnet by Shakespeare is no more important than an equal number of words put together by a child. Yet, Shakespeare seemingly spent much effort refining his craft, and that probably should be valued.
Moreover, a distinction can be made between things that are made for decoration or entertainment as opposed to other purposes, as this means that a society has time and resources to dedicate to more than just surviving, so in a way the more we decorate, the more we thrive. Of course, there have been more Spartan cultures over the years, but I think there is a correlation.
Then, a further distinction can be made between objects that are made to decorate and objects that are made to be art. So, how would I make that distinction? An artist is an artist, in that he or she wants to express something. As an example, an object can look like a stone monolith, but in the moment that an artist intends that object to mean something, let's say that conformity is an oppressive force in society, and there is a potential audience, who can understand that the object is meant to express an idea, then I would classify that object as art, whether you wear it on your body, hang it on the wall or place it on your bookshelf.

-What impressed you most for the last two years Munich Jewellery Week? ( MJW16 and MJW17 )
The people: I like people who are dedicated to art. And I think there is high degree of striving for uniqueness, which I think is something we humans can benefit from in all aspects of our lives. Understanding our uniqueness and trying to develop it.

At the opening of  Pinakothek der Moderne.

-For MJW18, which exhibition(s) or which piece(s) do you find most interesting? Why?
I don't feel that a statement in this direction would be useful. I am not really qualified to make this kind of a statement, most of all, for the simple fact that I did not take notes and was not thinking in terms of what is “most” interesting. So, the pieces and exhibitions that stand out in my mind are from people I happen to have met or are particular in some other way, but that does not mean that I found them “most” interesting.

-We went to the exhibition - work from American artists last year as well as this year. As an American living in Europe for so many years, can you tell the difference in the American artists’ work from the European’s?
I could not. As a pretty serious juggler for sometime, we used to note differences between styles of the different nationalities, Russian jugglers were more athletic and fast, French jugglers clowned more artistically, and the Swiss were slower. But at the end of the day, it is just stereotypes and prejudice that are being reinforced. Unless there is some school that is actually forming the people to be one way or another, and all the people from that nation are going to that school.

Visiting the exhibition, Work from U.S. during MJW17.

-Compared with other art fairs you visited before, what is the special quality about MJW?
The only other fair that I have been to that compares to MJW is the EJC, that is the European Juggling Convention. I think juggling and jewellery art compare quite well; both are rarely known to be art, and the people who do them as art are very dedicated to their craft and the art. They also dress kind of similarly, but the art jewellers are on average better dressed.

-Do you have any suggestion on Munich jewellery week? What need to be improved or changed to make the MJW more involved in Munich and be more appealing to the locals?
I would like to make some suggestions, but I would have to know how many people are dedicating how much time to the organization and what the obstacles are. As I have been involved in organizing juggling conventions, I know how difficult it can be, especially when you want to encourage free thinking people as opposed to robots. It is always easy to criticize, it is much more difficult to do a better job.

-What quality usually catches your eyes in a piece of work? Material? Colour? Form? Concept?
In the beginning, I was just amazed by the forms and materials. Now, I tend to look first, if I would actually want to wear the piece and what it would mean. I do like pieces where you can see the concept quickly. But I would think the order of perception for me is: concept, colour, form and then material usually. As a lay observer, I need the description to tell me if the object is silver or aluminium, plastic or stone.

-To what extent, do you think the setting, vibe and curating influence the overall quality of an exhibition? Any samples?
I didn't make it there this year, but I really liked the setting and vibe of the Giesserei in Schleissheimerstr. I think there are so many exhibitions that you go to that are more impressive for me in the production of the exhibit than the pieces themselves.

Abruptions by Jorge Manilla during MJW17.

-In your opinion, is it important for the art jewellery to be worn?
I would hope that enough pieces can be bought that the scene is able to continue to flourish or flourish more, but ultimately sharing ideas with one another is what keeps us from being socially isolated and that should be avoided for all sorts of reasons. Wearing art jewellery contributes to a sharing of ideas.

-Will you still like to go to visit Munich Jewellery week without a visitor like me?
I probably would go to some of the events and or exhibitions.

-Will you be interested in purchasing or collecting art jewellery?
 I am, but I have a pretty good idea of what I could and would want to wear and I haven't found it yet. As a man, and rather reserved or conservative in my appearance, it has to feel exactly right. Unfortunately, I do not have enough money to be a patron of the arts as a hobby - maybe some day.

-How do you see the future of art jewellery world?
I can offer more hopes than expectations. I think an important part of art, is artist driven and not audience driven. I think good art is always driven by what the artist wants to express and not what the audience wants to hear or see. In this world of social media posting the news and perspectives we want to read to our feed, I think it is vital that there are people trying to express unique ideas that their audience has not thought of. New ideas are also foreign and met with skepticism, which means artist driven art will rarely sell as well as “music for the masses” or the latest dance hit which sounds just like the last dance hit. So, I hope the artists in the art jewellery world keep having the courage to be at least a little foreign to their potential audiences.

See you next year March, Tyrant, and thank you for having me again.

About the Interviewee

Tyrant Fisch, born 1970; father artist, among other things; mother spent some time employed buying art for the headquarters of a large American corporation. Grew up going to museums, and continued to do that into adult life; B.A. Philosophy and Classics; M.A. Philosophy, Political Science and English Didactics.

About the author

Yuxi Sun completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2015. She is undertaking her Master of Fine arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein till 2018. She made an internship at Klimt02 in 2017, where she is working since 2018.