Titillating objects to wear – Blushing at the sight of so much intimacy
Intimacy and jewellery design have been inextricably bound up with each other for centuries. Wearing a piece of jewellery on a bare skin may be a gesture of intimacy in itself. Intimacy may be found in the styling of the ornament, and in the same way the choice of material may be intimate – some mineral and organic gemstones e.g. have an explicitly intimate and even erotic meaning. Intimacy may be found in the historical basis and inspiration for the ornament or in the place of the body where it is worn. A piece of jewellery may not always be visible, but it is there and can be felt. The history of jewellery knows numerous examples of all kinds of meanings of an ‘intimate piece of jewellery’. Just think of the chastity belt, friendship rings, piercings, lockets and jewellery made of human hair. Or the ancient Japanese tradition of inro, netsuke and ojimé, and double-sided Indian necklaces and pendants of the maharajahs. The ‘love letters’ (beadwork brooches and pendants in code) of the South African Xhosa and Zulu. Ornaments by way of underwear, or underwear by way of ornaments. Penis gourds belong in this list as well as antique gentlemen’s fob watches with hidden erotic pictures. A wealth of examples for which hundreds of artists from all corners of the world have found a new form, adding their own story. Everybody has his own interpretation of intimacy, designer as well as viewer. That is why the theme has a universal appeal
NTJ 2008: Intimacy has resulted in very intimate wearable works of art; jewellery that makes you snigger, makes you blush, makes you a voyeur and makes you want to touch it.
NTJ2008: Intimacy has proved to be a titillating theme.
Carin Reinders: dir. CODA Museum Apeldoorn
Isabella van den Bos: ‘ collector ‘
Marjan Unger: kunsthistorica en publiciste
Herman Hermsen: Sieraadkunstenaar en Professor für Schmuck- und Produktdesign Fachhochschule Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences:
Theo Smeets: university of applied sciences – trier dept. gemstone & jewelry design campus idar-oberstein
Christel Trimborn: journalist a.o: GZ Art + Design
Astrid Berens: organisatie SIERAAD
The third edition of New Traditional Jewellery, which this year has ‘Intimacy’’ as its theme, has yielded more than 140 entries, from all parts of the world. Half of the entries was submitted by students, slightly more than last year.
The theme ‘Intimacy’ has proved to be a hit, for not only did we receive a large number of entries, but the work submitted was often unusual and of high quality. The theme ‘Intimacy’ has been developed in many different ways. The various cultures from which the entries originated, have certainly contributed to this large variety.
Apart from 5 prize winners, the jury also selected around fifty pieces of jewellery which will be on show in the exhibition of NTJ Intimacy. This exhibition will be opened during the SIERAAD, Jewellery Art Fair in the Westergasfabriek, from 6 through 9 November, and will afterwards be on show in a number of other locations during 2009.
According to the jury, the exhibition shows an interesting sampling of the richness which the theme ‘Intimacy’ has yielded. The diversity is enormous, not only in technique and choice of material, but also in approach and experiences. Moreover, this diversity is layered. “You find intimacy in the references to all senses – smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing. But also in the places where a piece of jewellery is worn, invisible in a décolletage or very conspicuously with a secret message on the back, against the skin”, says the jury. “Jewellery with an oblique reference to eroticism and sexuality, jewellery exuding a perfume, like the antique pomanders, jewellery with contents that are kept secret even from us”.
Apart from the increase in the number of participating students, the quality of their work is also remarkably high this year, considering the subject. Therefore the jury decided to nominate not 1, but 2 students as prize winners.
The selection the jury made for the exhibition of NTJ 2008 Intimacy is based on a number of criteria. It goes without saying that on the one hand artistic ability and power of expression and concept are among the most important; on the other hand aspects such as innovation, use of material and technical execution also form part of the jury’s deliberations
The jury has been emphatically open-minded towards ideas from other cultures which we, in the West, may at times find difficult to fathom.
In view of the nature and quantity of the entries, combined with the jury’s aim to give an as broad and interesting as possible picture of ‘Intimacy’ in this batch of jewellery, one criterion has been added: the measure in which a piece of jewellery entices you to come nearer and have a closer look. The viewer takes a liking to that object, it gets under his/her skin. This connection may in itself be intimate. Such an experience is not necessarily physical – it stimulates your brain. Obviously this is to a large extent the case in many of the works of the prize winners.
IN THE CATEGORY OF ESTABLISHED ARTISTS THREE WINNERS HAVE BEEN SELECTED:
Embroidered Genesis by Beate Eismann
She has restored a human measure to a computer-guided process, which in itself is something quite intimate. “You feel connected with this work not so much out of professional appreciation, but because it clicks emotionally with something in your own life story”. Everything around us is being digitized. The way in which Eismann restores this to handicraft and artistic skill is moving and impressive.
I’ll give you my heart by Hartog & Henneman
The contrast and the contradiction lie in the computer-guided and mechanical process. Hearts are anything but this. When you wear this/these brooch/es, you see one third. The rest seems submerged and absorbed in your own body. “Implying that it is a part of your body” and “A heart on its way out of the body”, as the jury puts it. Combining this kind of high-tech vision with the most delicate symbol of life and love makes a tantalizing contrast and an outstanding piece.
Between us (pectoral brooch) by Carolina Hornauer Olivares (Chile)
A complex and uneasy brooch. The jury is surprised at the combination of materials and techniques. “What is all this doing together? It fits a story, although it is not our story. We appreciate its foreignism”. This is an example of appreciation without comprehension. The brooch appeals to something we cannot interpret cognitively, but touches something in us. The techniques have been inspired by the tradition of the Mapuche, the original inhabitants of south Chile.
IN THE STUDENT CATEGORY:
Pelzcollier by Nora Rochel
Every positive word applies to this work. This is a prize-winning design because it links two generations. A necklace with an extended function. Usually small children are not allowed to play with their mother’s jewellery, but with this one, Yes – and especially when mamma is wearing it! On top of this, the necklace hangs beautifully.
The layering in this design is ironic – you need to take something intimate and much-loved (cuddly toys) apart in order to put together something even more intimate and better-loved. This ‘sacrifice’ gives this object its intrinsic value.
Brooch from a breast and a necklace by Vivian Meller
This brooch is a cast of a frozen moment. It refers to a piece of jewellery that was worn on the skin, but which is lacking in this ornament. Non-present jewellery adorning a real body. To the jury, this brooch (the result of a computer-guided technique) is an example of the start of a next generation of jewellery: frontiers are pushed back here!