Dear jewellery artists,
Lack of information and/or of knowledge of eventual legal consequences made communication plaforms and social media accounts or group pages issue public claims and promote/spread them via Press, claims which may result at putting individual health at risk or at causing financial damages or diminishing a platform’s prestige and credibility.
Please, allow us, as we are Germany based curators, to explain to the ones who neither speak German nor are familiar with German law, what exactly the problem is.
We have divided our letter into chapters to make it more easy to read.
A. IHM_Schmuck 2020 cancellation.
IHM is since 1959 the one and only organizer of Schmuck Sonderschau aka “Schmuck” (jewellery in German) and the sponsor of the prestigious Herbert Hofmann Prize.
The Schmuck-Woche München – in English translated: jewellery-week Munich or Munich jewellery week, as you wish – in other words, the city event: gallery shows and other events, such as presentations, conferences, parties – apart from the state run and funded institutional events – around the big Schmuck Sonderschau is a spontaneous, non-institutional, leader-less, non-copyrighted event, loosely compiled/created by Munich based jewellery designers and runs parallel to Schmuck Sonderschau and the Hofmann Prize ceremony; this city event started more than ten years ago and is supported by the IHM organizers of Schmuck Sonderschau through a digital and print booklet/map with Munich’s highlights – in the city and the Fair premises.
We contacted our group members immediately after the IHM_Schmuck 2020 cancellation was made public in the mainstream German press, hours before anybody inside the so called “jewellery community” or “jewellery groups” in the social media had posted anything on the shocking – but not unexpected – news.
Our decision to postpone our group show for later this year followed the directives set and orders imposed by German authorities, the only instance capable to evaluate the situation and to enforce a decision met.
Many other major Fairs, such as ITB Berlin, Leipzig Book Fair or Hannover Fair have been forced to cancel their operations almost simutaneously with IHM_Schmuck 2020.
The German government directives were and are not advisatory; they were and are orders to follow: for public health is at stake while the corona virus epidemic may turn into a pandemic.
People underestimating, doubting or even mocking the seriousness of the situation are not only ignorant and dangerous; they may also make themselves liable to eventual persecution, according to German penal law – as we analyse below.
We have alligned ourselves with the decision of IHM_Schmuck 2020 and the reasoning of this decision as documented in the mainstream national German Press:
The corona virus epidemic is rapidly expanding in Germany. Experts expect 60 to 70 percent of the German population to be affected by the epidemic/come into contact with the corona virus.
a. have imposed a ban on events and gatherings of over 1.000 people
b. retain the right to ban any time they wish and without prior warning, common public life activities, such as cinemas, theaters, restaurants, close schools and academias, impose curfew or forced isolation/quarantine on villages, neighborhoods, areas or cities and
c. order quarantine/forced hospitalization, isolation or confinement for individuals or groups.
The quarantine lasts at least 14 days and in case of suspicion that the person in question does not comply with or defies orders, authorities have the right to order confinement/imprisonement, proceed to abolish his/her civil and individual rights, confiscate/retain/destroy the suspect’s personal property or items that have been used by one or more persons under suspicion of being infected, while all individual liberties, including freedom of movement, may be banned.
There are hundreds of people in quarantine in Germany right now, as German press reports every day.
Common sense dictates that one should neither take the health risk to travel to a place a pandemic may erupt nor the financial risk of the quarantine confinement, for all cost has to be carried by the person in question.
Quarantine is not an insurance issue or an option, as many artists think and claim in writing in public – thus spreading false information; it is an authority order and the cost has to be carried by the person arrested – for one may translate quarantine into “house arrest for medical purposes”.
German law on epidemics and infectious diseases is very strict and I advice you to google translate it:
B. Force majeure.
The corona virus epidemic is a case of Force majeure – a sudden event that we cannot control, has nothing to do with our will and it is not up to us to decide whether we wish to have the show or not.
Once the German organization IHM Schmuck 2020, to which we turned for news has issued a statement, and the German and Bavarian authorities do not exclude the seclusion or isolation of whole areas, while the infection danger in Germany is ranked “high”, it would be irresponsible and eventually punishable under German law not to call off our group show.
(See: Anstiftung: encouragement to criminal acts or defiance: of the law
and Fahrlässigkeit/Consciously and in full knowledge of a dangerous situation show negligence as a person in charge – for example, as a manager or organizer of a show – instead of avoiding this danger and thus expose people under your responsibility to this danger).
This means that if we – as organizers of the show War – advice our group show participants to come to Munich or even claim that there is no danger, we may make ourselves punishable, under German law:
We want to be very clear: This is not an issue we poll or decide collectively upon.
We would never risk health or legal complications, in order not to displease people headless enough to spread “fake news”, rumours and slander via social media arguing that it is “panic makers who destroy Schmuck or the jewellery week of Munich or Munich Jewellery Week” – call it as you like.
We also advice foreign artist and visitors to ask themselves:
How people who have nothing to do with Germany and speak no word of German are entitled to advice others to defy authorities restrictions and public health regulations? Who gave them this authority and this right? Are they aware of the eventual legal consequences of their actions?
C. Social media peer pressure
In social media pages “polls or voting processes” took place in order to “decide” if the jewellery week of Munich takes place or not.
People may be held responsible – under German law – for encouraging others to commit acts not compliant with the law ruling “Epidemics and infectiuous diseases”.
Trademarked commercial brands and self proclaimed “representatives” of the “jewellery community” are just commercial communication platforms and/or social media pages with no juridictional substance or form.
They are by no means and never were an organizer or the organizers of the jewellery week event of Munich just because they compiled a map or maps of various events for free or for a fee. They cannot control, suggest, form, develop, fund, curate, nor decide upon how shows or events will look like.
Self proclaimed representatives of the “jewellery community” have no saying in whatever decision artists or organizers or curators of the show X, Y or Z make. They are not official partners of IHM_Schmuck nor of the original nucleus of Bavarian artists, who by their own initiative and their own efforts created and promoted the city event over a long period of time – and to whom international artists visiting and exhibiting in Munich now should be grateful for their immense and year-long commitment and dedication.
These self proclaimed representatives of the “jewellery community” cannot lead anybody, sanction anybody, advice anybody, decide anything in the name of the “jewellery community” or suggest/order/ask anything from any member of any show, group, initiative connected with the Schmuckwoche Munich.
We are bound by official legal documents – contracts – to the participants of our show and are responsible for their safety. We are – according to German law governing our contractual agreements – responsible to warn our show participants of and keep them safe of eventual dangers which we see or can foresee.
We will not allow any platform or any self proclaimed representative to mess up with our work, cast doubt on our professionalism and reputation or spread “fake news” aiming at benefiting unprofessionals and promoting people obviously lacking common sense and social responsibility.
Thank you for your attention!
Christoph Ziegler and Loukia Richards aka ZLR Betriebsimperium
German readers may indulge in the following links to understand the gravity of the situation: