ThinkingJewellery XI. Interview with founder Willi Lindemann

Interview  /  BehindTheScenes   Review   Education   CarolinDenter
Published: 13.10.2017
Willi Lindemann Willi Lindemann
Carolin Denter
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Should you think jewelry or create more? Well, both. With the help of many hands and heads, the Symposium ThinkingJewellery 2017 will be organized for the eleventh time in a row. On the one hand, ThinkingJewellery represents a logistical challenge for the Gemstone and Jewelry Department at Trier University of Applied Sciences.

The Event, usually fully booked out askes questions about Jewelry making, about adorning - questions as they have been worked on in the university in Idar-Oberstein since 2003 with the restructuring of diploma, bachelor's and master's degree programs. The courses are now established; the questions remain in the room and wait for answers which are not easy to formulate, although they accompany the work constantly on the edge of the consciousness with the profession as a jeweler. These answers are attempts to formulate, which, by means of seemingly banal conceptual clarifications such as beauty, ornament, globalization, material, etc., enable a still necessary determination of positions in applied art. As a way, purely subject-related opinions are deliberately integrated into the program on a selective and exemplary basis; academics from preferably non-jewelry-related disciplines are coming to the fore and are interdisciplinary explorers.

This approach places many demands on the symposium participants. The transfer service to the work itself can only be done by themselves - a promising process that has led to the naming of the project: ThinkingJewellery. That neither the finished theories nor the universal truths have been provided in this way, the concept and theme of jewelry are inherent: as individual as the piece of jewelry must or must be at the end, the results of ornamentation will be individual.

Mr. Lindemann, since when did you deal with the theory of jewelery and how did you start to find interest in this topic?
Several years ago, as a former cultural director of the city of Idar-Oberstein, I began a long-term cooperation project with the university, which initially had mainly an artist in residence program for jewelry and the setting up of a jewelry gallery in the industrial monument Bengel. Encouraged by this collaboration, I started studying jewelry and the need of ornamentation and adornment more intensively. Through the cooperation with the university, many different events started to arise, events which have led me to discuss my teaching activities at the university and books about jewelry and precious stones and finally led to the symposium ThinkingJewellery.

Interview during ThinkingJewellery 10

How did the idea about ThinkingJewellery came to life and how long has this scientific symposium been held?
The analysis of the content of jewelry and ornamentation has shown that at that time, the phenomenon of jewelry and adorning yourself, were not theoretically and scientifically reflected at all. Jewellery was at best treated as a cultural phenomenon, as a special field in art history. In art, however, it is a somewhat disreputable phenomenon: decor, ornament, and art no longer fall into the same one thing. ThinkingJewellery, deals with the phenomenon of adorning as an anthropological constant, which permeates all human life. Decorating is inter alia, genetic program, constitutive element of human self-expression and communication. Through this, of course, also beyond the pleasure of being an object of art. ThinkingJewellery wants to put the jewellery back in its social and cultural context and at the same time grant a space for a contemporary and artistic confrontation.

How do you assess the importance of the material in art and what developments do you see here in the last 50 years?
Art aims either to portray the world as a mimesis or articulate human interpretations and theories about the world. Hence, the question of the material in art automatically leads to the question of the nature of the world. At first sight, art appears to refer to the aspect of aesthetic experience as the area of a sensible perception. However, especially modern physics, with its modern methods of investigation and scientific representations, have dissolved the traditional notion of matter as something firm and tangible in favor of statistical analogies. The cosmos (Greek: jewelry) is lost in the infinity of the astronomical macrocosm and the atomic microcosm. In view of these circumstances, the art of the present has agreed to deal primarily with the "spiritual" aspects, as interpretations of the world. The material of art has thereby become a representation of the history of the material, the ideas about the world. Conversely, the aesthetic experience of the material has become the reading of all these stories. The longing for the authenticity of the material, to the sensory experience, to the "true" Weltanschauung, which makes the whole world experience with the perception of the individual.

Overview of some Lectures during ThinkingJewellery 10

In the field of contemporary jewelry, the stone plays an increasingly important role. How do you estimate the re-evaluation of this material in jewelry?
In all the cultural histories of mankind, stones had a prominent symbolic significance. As mined minerals, they found great recognition as magical or medical objects in the context of religious cults or as political rank marks. Through the ancient yet modern stonecutting and engraving, it has become the material of art. It was only until the Renaissance that the precious stone became an ornamental object, a profound ornamental ornament, which was given a shape in the strictly regulated facet cut., as a normed object. The normed beauty ideals, the accompanying reduction in the appearance of the crystal to the effect of bling-bling, depreciated it as an artistic material. His transformation into a massively reproducible and tradable commodity largely deprived him of the primordial symbolic power and replaced the former symbolic meaning by the price. Contemporary art-making conquers the stone as the object and symbol of nature by critically analyzing the rationalist aesthetics of facetted cuttings and its capitalist exploitation and focusing on it as a symbol of an original, threatened and sustained nature.

Exhibition view of students works from NSAIO5 during the ThinkingJewellery event in 2015

Is it possible to think jewelry?
One can think of jewelry. However, jewelry can also be an expression of an ethical attitude, which is an ornament to the wearer. The vices, such as pomposity, vanity, avarice, and wastefulness, do not belong to the "seven deadly sins".

About the Interviewee

Wilhelm Lindemann, born 1949. Studies in philosophy, comparative literature, and social work. Worked in Idar-Oberstein as curator for the exhibition programme 'Idar-Oberstein schmückt sich'. Since 2005 has curated the annual academic symposium 'Schmuck-Denken - Unterwegs zu einer Theorie des Schmucks' [Thinking Jewellery On the Way Towards a Theory of Jewellery] held by the Trier University of Applied Sciences degree course in precious gemstones and jewelry design. Visiting lecturer for the theory of art at the Fachhochschule in Idar-Oberstein.

About the author

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 as Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein. After her graduation, she started working part time as Marketing and Design management Assistance at Campus Idar-Oberstein in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement.