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Stockholm: Craft in Dialogue, 2005. Klimt 02 Community. <http://www.klimt02.net/forum/index.php?item_id=4907>
The joy of making the invisible visual by utilising the hand Liesbeth den Besten Stockholm: Craft in Dialogue, 2005, Craft in Dialogue, 2005 Code: A_016 In 1997 the North American jeweller Bruce Metcalf wrote in an article about Craft and art, culture and biology : “But craft is not infinite mutable; it cannot take the form of the spoken word alone, text alone, performance alone (…). While art has dissolved most of its identities, craft must retain several limitations. Craft cannot be dematerialised: it must first and foremost remain a physical object.” This view is typical of what most people think about craft: craft is the hand made aesthetic object, the fruit of a thorough knowledge of materials and techniques. However, this conception of craft is under pressure today: crafts people are experimenting and researching, boarders are blurring, the concept or the story that a craft object is telling us becomes more important than the technique. As early as 1973 the Dutch jeweller Gijs Bakker made a very thin golden thread to be put on your upper arm as tight as possible. The effect was that the bracelet almost disappeared in the flesh of the arm, only an indication remained. This so called ‘Shadow bracelet’ - sold in a classical jewel case on a green velvet cushion - must be one of the first ‘conceptual jewels’ in the world. And recently the Swiss couple André Schweiger (jeweller) and Raoul Schweizer (graphic designer) designed a clinical styled showcase, where capsules of digestible gold were displayed under the title of “Goldschluck, das designte Ritual der Zukunft” (Gold swallow, the designed ritual of the future). What do these works tell us and is it jewellery? It is clear that the ideas come from jewellers, that they are reflecting on the world of jewellery and that they represent a new attitude in craft. It is time to try and redefine the definition of craft. After all, it is too easy to just declare that
And what about a young jeweller like Suska Mackert (1969) who hardly makes any jewellery at all. the excited buzzing. and still considers herself a jeweller? This German jeweller came to study at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 1994 and extended her studies at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam for a Masters degree. or that they should belong to the realm of design because of their designed appearance. belong to the realm of the arts. Her decision to come to Amsterdam had to do with her desire to explore the phenomenon of jewellery. in 1999/2000 she made a series of five posters. which only showed legends from an auction catalogue. A few years later. As ghost ornaments they had lost there tempting character. It was clear that her motives were quite different from those of her colleague jewellers. in all their bareness. Her graduation in 1998 showed a combination of work on paper and some jewellery. This jewellery was completely ‘stripped of’: everything which makes an ornament. Leaving out is a method that proved to be worthwhile. all made in grey silicone. displaying a parure. the music. Here she found the cultural climate that she needed to pursue her own course. earrings and brooch. its costly material. but one feature was akin and that was the meticulous dedication to the realization with a sharp eye for details. colour. and shine were taken away. the tabletop composed like a coffer. reveal a world of luxury and abundance: you can actually hear the teaspoon in the teacup. She showed a specially designed small table. They went very well with a small white brochure. the civilised conversation in the tea circle. the descriptions of pictures left out. Each image depicted the moment of a famous man being decorated by another . of 12 pages.objects and projects like these. The artist wants to attract our attention to the importance of jewellery in our lives. carefully arranged in the academies directors office. or the rustle of ball dresses. through their autonomous character. bracelet. a set of jewellery consisting of a necklace. showing blown up newspaper photo’s of international known politicians. The lines “A JADE BROOCH set with an oval carved plaque of pale green jade carved with lotus flowers mounted in silver” or “A CARVED TOURMALINE PENDANT with a carved purple and yellow tourmaline in gold and enamel floral motif mount set with circular-cut diamonds suspended from a twisted rope-style chain”. by taking them away visually.
a touch without code. the modesty. Our eyes are trained in deciphering codes. The process of making is part of the work. One could sense what was going on behind the text: the luxury. In the same period Suska Mackert attracted our attention to the importance of jewellery by reproducing texts. or the trendsetting image.famous man. The craft-like side of the artistic calling and the technical skills are of no importance. To mark the letters in gold was like stressing the importance of the discarded building: a last revival before falling into oblivion.” Her work cannot be called ‘dematerialised’ or ‘immaterial’ either. studio’s. The inhabitants of the village. In conceptual art the idea is more important than the realisation. In Plüschow (Germany) she did quite the opposite last year. If these codes are disturbed you become aware of their importance. What remained was an image of a powerful man touching another man. It is clear that Suska Mackert’s work cannot be called ‘conceptual’ as such. In the framework of an exhibition she gilded the letters of the name Plüschow on the façade of the former railway station of the village. although some of her works have a temporary character or have an ‘dematerialized’ element (the jewel set of grey silicone). tattoo-shops. without any jewel. As the American artist Sol LeWitt once put it: “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. Her work has its roots in jewellery. the ritual in the picture became grotesque. on his breast or in the neck. Suska seems . the size and even the thickness of the letters matching exactly with their model – the whole presenting a walk along the shop-windows. a diamond point and even a centuries old pawnshop. just like that and without any reason. by touching up the decoration the image was alienated – this effect being intensified by the blown up character of the poster-size print. the symbol of power. The positioning of the texts. especially the former stationmaster and his wife. She reproduced them by hand with graphite on the inner walls of an annex of Hans Appenzeller’s jewellery store in one of the streets. Yet it is not made for the gallery. Through the absence of the decoration. names and logo’s found on the shop-windows in three narrow streets in the centre of Amsterdam housing many small jewellery shops. are used to the codes of power. She created a world of jewellery. The reason for this is that she takes great pains in the realization her work. without any further references. and is made in accordance with the craft. were touched by this simple though clear artistic intervention.
I couldn’t leave things as they were. I started in the basic course. I felt inhibited by my professional training. traditions. Talking about the pure. which is a general course. though after seeing a huge . It was super. This year was very fruitful. I thought ‘here I am making jewellery and I don’t even know what jewellery is about’. so gold. Why isn’t she making jewellery. its ritual meaning. and you had you own studio in Berlin for two years. power politics. and I liked it very much because it opened up my mind. What made you decide to come to the Rietveld Academy? SM: I felt professionally deformed. with Ruudt Peters and Joke Brakman. it gave me time to really think about it. yellow gold jewels of a German jeweller. I wanted to learn more about jewellery.more and more at ease ‘in situ’. everything ought to be polished and made beautiful. After seeing an exhibition with jewellery of the three jewellery schools from Munich. I decided to go to Amsterdam. I loved the craft of the silversmith.specially made for that occasion. Suska declared in a private conversation that she would love to have a jewel like that: so pure. and what drives her to do the things she is doing? An interview: LdB: You studied jewellery in Neugablonz (a Polytechnic). This amazed me a lot and I thought she was joking. though always dealing with the question how to draw our attention to jewellery. when she has a room inside or some space outside where she can make a work . LdB: Why did you want to study jewellery. Suska Mackert loves jewels from the bottom of her heart. and pushing back frontiers. before going to Neugablonz. Amsterdam and Tokyo. Having my own studio in Berlin. which happened to be running in Munich at that time. Than I studied for three years at the jewellery department. I stumbled over it. I wanted to learn silversmithing or goldsmithing. you studied philosophy and theatre studies? SM: I had to wait for one year before I could enter the school in Neugablonz. to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie which was more experimental. but she wasn’t. its shine and beauty.
We. together with a much older work. Actually it is my dream to make a real book once. ’ which is quite a recent work. the small white brochures made for your graduation. For me a concept is also emotional. A concept grows and it is hard working to find the precise form. Why did you make this choice? SM: Well I didn’t do it alone. I never think something up. have a look . you can take it in your hand. Can you explain me what is the importance of the craft in your work today? SM: The process of making. otherwise the work would be dead.jewellery exhibition in the Haus der Kunst in Munich I knew I wanted to learn jewellery. I think the metaphor is that you need time to create the image. all sawed and treated by hand. why did you do it like that? SM: First I tried to do it mechanically. and craft. in Holland. call this labour-intensive process a ‘monk’s labour’. But it wasn’t right. and the binding because it has to be very precise. in time and idea. LdB: In the museum in Göteborg you will show the impressive ‘Ce souvenir . the printing. I do it all by myself. Many people say I am a conceptual artist. by punching them. I will make the booklet with descriptions of the auction catalogue once again. The letters of the text are covered by a sort of a cloud of hundreds of small metal medallions. LdB: One of your recent works is a work on the wall. but I like it because these works are so far apart. There will be a pile of those. On the other hand I am not a conceptual artist in the sense of Donald Judd or Sol LeWitt. The thinking process and the making process are slow and that gives the image its power. . although also in Judd’s work you can see an enormous skill. called ‘Ce souvenir sera toujours mon guide’. I did it together with the organiser. LdB: You hardly seem to make jewellery today. . and in a way they are right because I work with concepts. A book is a beautiful medium. the craft is very important.
This is a statue of the Madonna. You take it home as a souvenir. At one side the name of the place is found. ‘ has to do with a previous work with a Madonna. I wanted to investigate . . When I began working on ‘Ce souvenir . with pilgrimage. LdB: Where do you start working. in an analytical way. . I want to spend the same attention to other materials and techniques. This work deals with Catholicism. ‘Ce souvenir . it was too limited. Children receive medallions for their first Communion. although there is an idea or a concept. The photo’s have to appeal to me: it is about a gesture. although I don’t file and polish anymore. Unfortunately just recently. This is very important to me. I have a chronological collection of photo’s from a German newspaper – it is growing constantly and is a rich source. ‘ I started punching medallions from hand coloured postcards of Lourdes. wrapped in special paper as a product to be sold. . a medallion. how does a concept originate? SM: It comes intuitively. they have taken away the worldly chains and jewels – it’s a pity. In France I once found a specimen with this sentence which I liked very much. power. something graphical. a pose. . They fold the paper in a special way and I did it the same. I had punched medallions out of one card and provided these together with a simple golden chain. Everyone who goes on a pilgrimage receives. . but I didn’t like it.whenever and wherever you want. I had some postcards of the so called ‘Schmuck Madonna’ (jewellery Madonna) or ‘Gnaden Madonna’ (Madonna of Mercy) from Cologne. The paper is special because it is used by dealers in stones to wrap the minerals. . I don’t know what comes first: the concept or intuition. no matter the context. And it is also about viewing. Now it has a sort of abstraction which I like. codes. I collect medallions at flea-markets for many years. loaded with jewellery. In jewellery there are tools and materials which are specific for the discipline. on the other side it is Maria. There are almost thousand medallions in it and eventually I asked a colleague to assist me. I want to perfect them the same way. ‘ was made for an exhibition in Amsterdam at the end of 2004. ‘Ce souvenir . because it drove me crazy. They have a certain refinement that you won’t find anywhere else. When I made the first posters of politicians being decorated. when he reaches the place.
LdB: How do you see your work yourself. Someone once said to me that I am cynical. The story about his ring being demolished after his death is something that intrigues me. People who see my work in a jewellery gallery are often confused.they are not digitally manipulated and I think one can see the difference. Röhsska Museet. for instance recently with the death of the pope. I was trying to approach it. ( Craft in Dialogue. but what I make is in a sense autonomous. I may be radical. I am an addict. when I would start making jewellery. the craft. that it may be very classical. I don’t consider myself a designer. to be honest I really love valuable. It is so strange. I think it is important for people to know what my background is. however in doing this I have become a long way away from jewellery – people think. exhibition catalogue REAL Rhösska Museet. Göteborg ) From the exhibition REAL Craft in Dialogue. although some of my works will communicate without knowing this and actually I prefer that. I finally found a small article about it on the Internet. old and pretentious jewellery. I use jewellery as a source. Therefore I have to create my own context again and again. craft? SM: I don’t want to fit in this old hierarchy. but that is absolutely not true. I am constantly busy collecting information about rituals and jewels. I love it. what I do goes too far for many people in the field of jewellery. I think. I wanted to know more about jewellery. On the contrary: I enjoy jewellery.what these rituals were about. the power as well as the intimacy. is it art. Gothenburg 3 September – 16 October 2005 . I see there are differences between design or craft and art. I prefer to consider myself a jeweller. although it is linked to something which is not autonomous – there is the confusion. I painted the photo’s by hand to retouch the decorations . I want to make a new work about this.
Liesbeth den Besten. pp.References In Peter Dormer (ed). C) 24 pages The magazine widens the concept of craft and design and its connection with the social dimension that Craft in Dialogue showed at Röhsska museet. B. Gothenburg under the same title. petra Hampe. Päivi Ernqvist. Magnus Haglund. Mikael Nanfeldt. Texts by: Zandra Ahl. The Culture of Craft. Angela Mc Robbie.69/70 Additional information Catalogue Real Craft in Dialogue Magazine in 3 volumes (A. . Jobim Jochimsen. Ana Betancour. Manchester 1997.
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