You feel as if you are not succeeding fast enough-A Jewellery artist’s Open Letter

 

Text and works by Virginia Jakim: Club / Bozo (hands) / Bozo.

Buenos Aires – Berlin, March 2020.

“In recent years, I witnessed both in social media and during Schmuck, how the Contemporary Jewellery world has become either too centripetal, or some kind of popular girls club, acting “woke” but in reality reproducing all logics and hierarchies that it allegedly opposes.

On one side, there is the cult for pure artisanship, disconnected from bigger ideas and concepts outside the specific context. Someone works on a material for very very long, then puts a pin or a thread on it, and voilá: Contemporary Jewellery!

I have personally experienced the spiritual value and the meditative aspect of effort and patience, and I believe in transformation of matter as an metaphysical act. But I do not understand why is this of any further value or what does it add to the field of Contemporary Jewellery. As it happens with its makers, repetition is a main feature of this branch and it can very easily lead to stagnation or simple exhaustion.

Then there is the opposite end of the scene, following constantly changing trends, networking and name-dropping their way up. The possibility of the artist expressing their own, different, world view is watered down. More so, this branch flirts with a superficial interpretation of Design, and sees jewellery as a “guilty pleasure”. The cult of personality is at the center of it, performing a diet version of “girl power” and mutual empowering.

This trend thrives on the logic of social media, creating infinite content that makes the spectators feel like they are always missing something or not producing or succeeding fast enough. I perceive this as damaging for the creative process and for the creation of meaningful, ethically responsible work.

As both aforementioned branches seem to have the most economical resources to showcase their views relentlessly, both online and offline, their leadership in the field is hard to debunk. This creates aninfertile ground for valuable work that does not fit in any of these trends, independent initiatives and artists striving to equal Contemporary Jewellery to Art.

There’s no negative or downgrading connotations when I name Design, Fashion, trends or craftsmanship. I reject the idea of a pre-existing hierarchy between Art and Design. I see these two disciplines as connected, and different works by the same artist may oscillate between them. Personally, I never want to miss any of the possibilities that each discipline offers me.

However, there are two ideas that I find problematic.The idea that one should produce at the rhythm of “new collections” and that my work exists only to be sold and used by someone. This is conceptually limiting and specially contradictory if I am trying to challenge ideas and patterns of consumption.

On the other hand, the reduction of the field to pure craftsmanship. Using jewellery as a trope to speak about luxury, vanity, power, intimacy, heritage, etc., is what equals Contemporary Jewellery to Art. Makers who produce work within this context, struggle to have access to professional opportunities outside their own niche.”

WHO IS VIRGINIA JAKIM?

I am conceptual designer/artist/jeweler who makes and reflects on wearable objects. I often work on ideas of luxury, belonging, power displays and consumption, reinterpreting and remixing what we as society consider objects of desire. A main aspect of my work is the exploration of objects in close relationship with the body’s potential for poetic language. Presenting an imaginary performance (the actof wearing), I intend to trigger reflection about the world or situations (hypothetical or real) in which these objects would find place to exist. The objects I create always have a tongue-in-cheek tone, finding in humor a way of addressing slippery topics as well as a cathartic act.

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