Have you also seen an unbelievable amount of jewellery lately? Flat ghostly apparitions on our screen that evaporated back into the cloud? Yet, some of them I have not only seen, but also felt. I could imagine their surface, or their weight. Bronze has a smell. Links make a sound.
Our sensory memory completes the picture. To do this, you need to have built up an archive of jewellery that you once picked up, turned over, clasped or pinned and put away again. Dutch designer Gijs Bakker wonders whether we still make enough physical contact with the materials used to make jewellery. His earrings make you aware of the specific mass of the materials. This little ball of rock crystal weighs exactly 4.0 grams, as does the much smaller piece of gold. The rod through your ear is the balancing stick of the tightrope walker.
The same fascination as for Gijs Baker’s ear jewellery, I had for the travelling exhibition “21 grams” in 2018. Dozens of international artists made a piece of jewellery that weighed 21 grams. Behind the assignment was a spiritual thought about the soul. But the weight rule was just as interesting: so many differences in volume and materials and yet all of the same weight!
I like to wear big rings. They are a bit uncomfortable but the weight is a pleasant reminder of the jewellery all day long. Not my earrings; they are often only a few grams each. Even with a big necklace, I would immediately keep the aspirins handy. Sometimes, such headaches are meant to be. This necklace by American John Sullivan expresses emotional trauma and mental illness. When we can go out again soon, I would like to weigh it on my hands. But perhaps its already clear. You only need to see the picture to feel the burden.
Saskia van Es.
Gijs Bakker, (395) Balance 4 Point 0, earring, rock crystal diameter 14.4 mm, yellow gold 750, diameter 8 mm, remanium, 2019, executed by Jan Matthesius. Photo by Marley White; image courtesy of the artist.
John Sullivan, Suppressive (on artist), necklace, Steel, 3.5″ x 10″ x 51″, 30.8lbs, 2020. Photo courtesy of the artist.