DO YOU SPEAK JEWELLERY? *
Talk Show – Informal Talk about jewellery and presentation of the exhibition programme for 2018, marking the 20th anniversary of Galeria Reverso.
Marina Elenskaya – co-fouder of the jewellery magazine “Current Obsession”.
Olga Noronha – jeweller.
Pedro Sequeira – artist and jeweller.
Manuel Vilhena – jeweller.
A while ago a friend who is also a jeweler asked me whether I though our art would continue to exist. The question surprised me as I had never pondered on it. What did she mean “continue to exist”? Of course it will! I never though arts could disappear. Besides that, we know jewellery is almost as human as we are.
But the question lingered… could “this” really disappear? And what is “this”? I don’t want to go into the debate of the definition of the art I will call art jewellery. Of course there are many hesitations regarding the name – contemporary jewellery, studio jewellery, author jewellery – not to mention the confusion with artists´s jewellery, and this doesn’t help the recognition of this practice, but others better than me will do this analysis.
What intrigued and excited me was this idea, almost an anguish, that the sector of artistic jewellery could be at risk of disappearing when I see it as booming, vibrant and full of life… (am I alienated from reality?) There is a multitude of new artists, schools, workshops, fairs and exhibitions that make that it is no longer possible to know about every exhibition, follow every event… signs that the sector moved into a new phase of maturity, will all the opportunities and problems that arise from that.
On the other hand, very recently Art Jewellery Forum debated a theme I had heard before from a worried friend, that a significant number of jewellery gallery owners are around the age of retirement, and one wonders whether they will keep the galleries open and under which conditions and some just closed down their businesses.
Can this work survive without galleries? And even if it could, do we want that to happen? Can we imagine a mainly virtual future, with exhibitions organized by artists in fairs or ad hoc places ? Will independent curators or artists’ “agents” emerge, operating without a defined physical space, without a gallery?
A while ago I read a biography of Peggy Gugenheim, bought in Paris, when I went there to see the “Medusa: Bijoux et Tabous” exhibition, a mark in the problematization, divulgation and – do we still need to say it? – legitimation of art jewellery. This book – I read on the plane back home – made see some parallels between the moment jewellery is going through right now and what is there described at the rising of the age of modern art. The question : “Is this art?” echoes in our daily practice, teaming with another one: “Is this jewellery?”. There is a feeling of vanguard in the jewellery world that I believe is difficult to find these days in other areas. We are not the first generation but their sons or grand-sons and daughters and everything is still very new and exciting but still rather uncertain.
The artists want to know how to dedicate fully to their art, without the need of daily jobs; the gallery owners want to know how to captivate new audiences, though very much aware that we will always be a small niche; the thinkers and teachers and curators need to define the theoretical boundaries of what we are doing; schools oscillate between artistic curricula and the need to give their students tools of employability and collectors are worried they may be blinded by their passion…a whole world organizes itself around jewellery.
And jewellery must answer…in a world in constant expansion where borders collapse… photography, installation, video, performance, sculpture, scarification, tattoos, land art, urban art, design, craft, 3D technology, augmented reality…artistic jewellery can run though all these worlds. But, besides individual practice, what remain when we go back to the bench? Where are we, and of course, where do we go?
Marta Costa Reis, 2018
for Galeria Reverso
* Manuel Vilhena in “do you speak jewellery”, 1998