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JOYA Barcelona, the main art jewelry and art object event in Spain will celebrate its 13th edition this year focussing on the subject of Alchemy:
This antique discipline of doctrine and experimentation of chemical phenomena analyses the transmutation of metals, the elixir of life, and the search for stone philosophers. The Alchemy is also related to secret methods, the elixir of immortality, the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and to development of a universal solvent.
In this third interview of three, we spoke to Jury Member Namkyung Lee, contemporary jeweller, and winner of the JOYA Award 2020.
Namkyung, this year you are selected as JOYA 2021 Jury Member. Please tell us more about your professional development.
I am currently working as a contemporary jewellery artist. I have been working in various fields of jewellery since I finished my MFA in jewellery design. Because I like to travel, I carried my artworks in my backpack and participated in fairs held overseas. I also participated in JOYA in 2018, and those times remain as good memories, so I applied last year as well. There I was honorably awarded the Joya Award, and that's why I was also selected as a jury this year.
What is your personal interpretation of this year’s topic Alchemy? Any thoughts?
When I first heard the topic of Alchemy, a fixed image of the word first came to mind. I thought it was a subject that could create diverse images. After that, I received a message from Joya that it was a topic that could be connected with us living in the present, and I sympathized with it. And based on this, I took a new approach to this word. A fragmentary image can be a flashy image, but I thought it could contain a variety of messages, including bright and dark, heavy and light.
How you will explain your working process regarding the concept of Alchemy?
In my work, I use the medium of photography, which is closely related to memory. So, it often expresses the disappearance and distortion of images, the emotions that accompany memories, and the ways and processes in which memories are preserved and recalled.
This idea process provided a connection with the existing method when approaching the subject of Alchemy.
I wanted to express the complex concept of the word 'Alchemy' with a visual image, and I wanted to capture the process of changing various situations and emotions facing us, and the state in which they coexist.
Namkyung Lee. Brooch: Door to Images, 2021. Silver, photograph printed on acrylic. 7.3 x 3.2 x 15.7 cm. From series: Image Archive
As a jury for the 2021 JOYA Award, what do you expect to see? What is the aesthetic specific you are looking for and what are your criteria or your visions for the selection?
I think we will be able to see a lot of diverse and good works at JOYA 2021. Currently working as an artist, I try not to have a fixed aesthetic point of view. However, if I have to make a choice like this time, I tend to prefer the works in which there is no gap between what I want to express and what I am actually creating. In some ways, it may be a too conservative standard, but I think it can provide a positive direction for working. When an artist sets a direction in which can be sincere, and the research process of the concept and aesthetic sense for that direction is carried out, I believe that any work can have its own aesthetic characteristics.
As someone who is participating in fairs as a tool for sales, what do you think of the fairs as a communicative event and/or for career development?
Since the fair is an event that draws attention from a variety of people in a short period of time, there are many artists who want to participate because they think there is a high possibility of getting a career as an artist. But there are times when that opportunity comes and sometimes it doesn't. From my experience, of course, I had a lot of luck with the fair. But practical opportunities weren't the only things that were valuable to me. It may sound abstract, but I was given the chance to directly interact with the artists and their works gathered from various countries, thereby giving me an opportunity to objectively judge my situation. I also met good artists there, and I pay attention to their news and maintain good relationships. This has been a valuable experience for me to work on.
Namkyung Lee. Brooch: Frame and frame, 2020. Silver, photograph printed on acrylic. 8.4 x 2 x 14.8 cm. From series: Image Archive.
There are some Jewellery fairs worldwide. What do you think is special about the JOYA Jewellery Fair in Barcelona?
I have participated in several fairs over the past few years. From the artist's point of view, all fairs has their own characteristics. Among them, Joya Barcelona seems to have the characteristic of intensively introducing jewellery in the category of ‘contemporary jewellery’, which have strong experimental and artistry. I think the distinguishing feature of JOYA is that it creates an atmosphere where artists in one field with their own aesthetic standards, concepts, and goals and their works can be admired in harmony.
What made your interest in contemporary jewellery?
I think that contemporary jewellery has a diversity that encompasses the overall fields of craft, design, and art. As someone who works in this field, this is what I feel first in the process. It makes us try all kinds of materials, can contain various concepts, and the limit that is inevitably connected to the human body also makes it possible to think beyond that.
About the IntervieweeNamkyung Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. She majored in jewellery design and Graduate from School of Design at Kookmin University. Namkyung was awarded with the JOYA Award at the JOYA Barcelona Art Jewellery & Objects in 2020, and AUTOR Award 2019. Now she is currently working as a contemporary jewellery artist.
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