Schermata 2016-07-11 alle 09.47.30Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School invites you to the final exhibition of its first year BFA titled ECHO, opening on Friday July 15, 2016 at 19:30. On Saturday July 16 and Sunday July 17 the exhibition will be open from 17:00 to 20:00.

Echo: that which vibrates from one point to another, from one person to another. Mentored by an artist of our choice, the 1st year BFA program develops a collection that showcases how an artist’s work can echo through the world and time to reach us as a source of inspiration.

Participants are: Elisa Cazzaniga, (b. in 1995 in Italy), Roberta Consalvo (b. in 1966 in Italy), Lisiane Hilario (b. 1965 in Brazil),  Weng Ian Lai (b. 1989 in China),  Kristin Knoll (b. in 1987 in USA), Maria Luisa Quartín (b. in 1997 in Portugal), Ginevra Montoschi (b. in 1992 in Italy), Ying Chu Shih (b. in 1993 in Taiwan), Sophia Taul (b. in 1994 in Denmark)  and Fu-Yu Tsai (b. in 1989 in Taiwan).

During the opening night, there will be music, drinks and food to celebrate the end of our exciting first year.


We admit it, we are slightly sad about the difficulty to receive critical (written) assessment on a jewellery exhibition in Florence. Of course we know that when exhibitions have such a short life span (three days) it is nearly impossible to manage to get a critic in, let him pause on the show and share his reflections after. And then again, how many jewellery critics are there in Florence or Italy anyway? How wide would our readership be? And importantly, how much is a critic or writer paid in the jewellery context to make worth the effort and to validate his/her role as work and as labour and not just as passionate intellectual endeavor pursued for enthusiasm and believe in a discipline?

Anyway, this was not supposed to be the subject of this post. Here, our interest is in sharing with you some beautiful moments of an exhibition. One that tried to create a network of intentional and accidental associations between art jewellery pieces, 45 wooden balls and a collection of original and copies of (mostly) white marble sculptures, starring in a church converted into an artists’ studio two centuries ago.

We had multiple intentions with this curatorial gesture: to have the body present, physically and mentally, vis-à-vis the pieces; to call attention to the hybrid nature of contemporary jewelry for a non professionalized audience: its simultaneous existence as a piece to be worn and to be exhibited in a gallery context; to shed light on something that these six jewelry artists, all recent graduates of Alchimia, shared: an educational experience in a context, a city, a country, overwhelmed by a heavy and magnificent past, difficult to overcome, in thought as much as visually; to metaphorically speak of the interstitial and liminal space contemporary culture inhabits in the city. But what we also aimed for in the more sensual and straight-forward way possible was to romantically create magic human moments of encounter between artifacts of different nature, intention and time.

In 1829 Lorenzo Bartolini, an important Tuscan sculptor working in between the XVIII and XIX century, turned a previous church into his own studio. After his death, his favorite pupil Pasquale Romanelli, adopted the space: since then five generations of Italian male artists have worked and exhibited into this site, initiating a collection that speaks to the last two centuries of Italian classical sculpture with an important presence of Fascist examples.

On June 17, 2016 a group of six female jewelry artists coming from Russia, Lebanon, Chile and Italy took over the space and the collection enacting a hormonal clash of powers and dimensions, reshuffling hierarchies between disciplines and genders. Here, choreography was key – their pieces wanted tell you stories of fleshy thrills and conceptual affairs.

Please remember to take care: there is so much meaning in the details!


Daria Borovkova, Being and Belonging, 2016

The research of Daria Borovkova (born in Moscow in 1984) focuses on socio-cultural aspects that define contemporary human identity: the need for mobility and its implications, such as the impossibility to create long-term and rooted relations with a territory and its cultural fabric, but also the more hybrid and less nationalistic identity that emerges out of this equation. Through her jewels Borovkova experiments with unconventional alloys and a very personal artistic process in which several and variously precious metals are first melted, then rolled in very thin layers and finally shaped until they become rings or bracelets, each with very unique proportions, nuances and forms, yet part of a manifestly homogeneous crowd. Metaphor of the construction of the subject both as an individual and as part of a community, Being and Belonging speaks of how the formation of an identity is a manufactured process in continuous, and partly unpredictable, transformation.

Sana Khalil, In Conflict. Moments of Strike, 2014-2016

The practice of Sana Khalil (born in Beirut in 1985) emerges from existential questions relating to the feeling of static helplessness of the individual in relation to the wider political and social context that surrounds him. Her work is strongly influenced by the history of her country, Lebanon, and her role as an artist and as a citizen within contexts of war and on-going unrest. The series In Conflict. Moments of Strike consists of a collection of brooches and wooden spheres that Khalil has hammered and tried to scratch for many months, without being able to produce any major difference to their structure, while visibly defiling their surface. The continuous and programmatic repetition of the same gestures are deemed to fail as they have no agency on infrastructures, while only influencing surfaces. Differently, her brooches are semi-spherical elements that appear as a battered matter, which yet results as sadistically seductive. An omen to the double nature of beauty, and its controversial meanings and, more importantly, as in Khalil’s words, the representation of fear, pain and vulnerability.

Lavinia Rossetti , Madeleine, 2016

Lavinia Rossetti (born in Pisa in 1985) deals with the whirlwind of feelings and emotions that characterize the human psyche and physicality. Madeleine is a series of highly poetic and nostalgic works, referring to the famous French dessert that Marcel Proust uses as a metaphor for the notion of involuntary memory in À la recherche du temps perdu. Brooches and necklaces are characterized by the recurrence of the oval shape, direct reference to the traditional technique of inlaid wood and to the pendants containing images of beloved ones in vogue since the XVIII century. Within a strong and wide sense of openness of meanings and subjective takes to the pieces, Madeleine becomes a metaphor of the layered and impermanent substance of our memory and how this is shaped through the proximity to the body, the mind and the heart.


Federica Sala, True Lies. A Collection of Oxymorons, 2015-2016

The practice of Federica Sala (born in Milan in 1986) is based on the analysis of the physical properties of different materials to experiment new and unpredictable formal possibilities. Her works have a particularly complex formal outcome, where sophisticated techniques are associated with a substantial theoretical research, and the physical and chemical characteristics of the materials are lined to existential questions on the human nature. In the series True Lies. A Collection of Oxymorons, glass and stones come together in an innovative dialogue result of a long research developed on the island of Murano, with a strong relationship to local crafters. These works encourage a reflection on the inextricable co-dependence between opposite forces and forms, and on the limits of our visual and intellectual perception. Seemingly impossible structures that emphasize how much what we intuitively call reality is a fragile, hybrid and complex system, despite the appearances.

Giulia Savino , 1 : 20,000, 2015 – 2016

Precariousness and mobility are two of the main stereotypical aspects that affect the lives of the new Western generations, often characterized by uncertainty, the knowledge of different languages, the ability to have a light luggage and to be a fast and multi-tasking person. With the series 1:20,000 Giulia Savino (born in Vercelli in 1987), a traveller and adventurer herself, with an important working experience in Egypt, has created necklaces and earrings that respond to these very contemporary needs: seducing and light objects, bearing a featherweight, taking up very little space and adaptable to different contexts . These works represent personal interpretations of cities from above or known only through maps: Amsterdam, Florence, Paris , Barcelona and her native Vercelli . They become cities to own, wear, appropriate and interpret.

Maria Ignacia Walker, Trascendieron, 2015

The work by Maria Ignacia Walker (born in Santiago de Chile in 1984) follows an obsession with the human body and its past and present rituals that define and outline daily actions, even when involuntarily. Her jewels are performative works, where the observer or the wearer is called to perform an action, to use them in order to understand them. Trascendieron is conceived as a tribute to the silent and trivial losses that we inadvertently witness every day. Some hair got caught in forms of gold and porcelain within a collection that encourages a reflection on the human impulse to collect and preserve, bringing both of these aspects to their extreme. They are counted, measured, analyzed and meticulously preserved as if they were rare and precious materials, in an ironic and poetic act that questions the parameters used to quantify the value of things.

All images are by Martino Margheri.

The exhibition was curated by Antonia Alampi and Riccardo Lami.

Lina Gorbach, The space between two, object, 2016, plexiglass, Abiona Esther Ojo

Lina Gorbach- The space between two, object, plexiglass, 2016, photo by Abiona Esther Ojo


Opening Friday July 15, from 7:30 – 10pm

July 16 and 17 open from 6-8pm

Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School

Piazza Piattellina 3r


An exhibition with jewellery by: Irene Belfi, Lina Gorbach, Bonnie Hsu, Anna Hui, Vanessa Karla, Marisa Leenutaphong, Margaret Munchheimer, Eleonora Natali, Clara Nguyen, Daria Olejniczak, Yanis Turcarelli, Ziwei Yi and Ziji Zhang


Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry School is happy to present Unveiled, a group exhibition opening at its premises on Friday July 15, 2016.

In a dramatic yet playful setting, draping the school’s characteristic renaissance features into a muted white cube space, the exhibition showcases the work of 13 international graduates of Alchimia’s 2nd year BFA program.

The artistic endeavors presented here are extremely varied in technique and form, yet certain conceptual threads can be found. Narratives dealing with memory, secrets and storytelling speak in the work of Bonnie Hsu, Marisa Leenutaphong, Margaret Munchheimer, Ziwei Yi, and Zhang Ziji; while Clara Nguyen and Daria Olejniczak weave in reflections on societal issues; whereas Anna Hui, Eleonora Natali, and Yanis Turcarelli attempt to manifest records of emotional events.

An inquiry into the interaction of form and the sensory experience constitute the basis of work by Irene Belfi and Lina Gorbach, while Vanessa Karla conducts experiments in materiality, with food as her primary element.

During the opening night food, drinks and music will be served, in cathartic celebration of the end of a successful and passionate year.


Marisa Leenutaphong , Untitled, 2016, 18kt gold, 9 kt gold, 925 silver, plastic

Margaret Munchheimer, support group, 2016, necklace, brooches, steel, silver, cement, resin, leather, sound

Margaret Munchheimer, Support group, 2016, Necklace, brooches, steel, silver, cement, resin, leather, sound

Eleonora_Natali 1

Eleonora Natali, Trapped, 2016, Necklace, Iron, plexiglass, silver


Daria Olejniczak, from series Bodies, 2016, Pendant, magazine paper, silver, cotton ribbon. Photo by Prisca Tozzi


Irene Belfi, Con-tatto 8, 2016, Object / bracelet, pumice stone, cherry wood


Clara Nguyen, Squawk squawk!, 2016, body piece, potato chip bags, thread. Photo by Prisca Tozzi


Bonnie Hsu, Rustic dance of breeze, 2016, brooch, maple wood, cotton fabric, thread, brass. Photo by Federico Cavicchioli


Yanis Turcarelli, Chrysalis, 2016, bracelets, copper


Anna Hui, No.16, Neck Piece, from π,  brass


Ziwei Yi, The Memoir of Tata, 2016, Necklace, steel, iron,18k gold, linen, cotton, thread. Photo by Federico Cavicchioli


Ziji Zhang, Do you feel power?, 2016, Brooch, wood,silver,steel, photo by Diana Pantea


Vanessa Karla, (Un)controlled, 2016, Collar, rice paper, sepia ink, iron, fabric, photo by Vanessa Karla


Alchimia – Contemporary Jewellery School is proud to present BODIES AND MINDS and WONDER/WANDER two group exhibitions of its MFA and BFA graduates respectively, opening on Friday June 17 from 6.30 pm at Alchimia’s premises and at the Galleria Romanelli in Florence.

postcard 10 x 15 front for website


With jewellery by Daria Borovkova, Sana Khalil, Lavinia Rossetti, Federica Sala, Giulia Savino and Marìa Ignacia Walker

Curated by Antonia Alampi and Riccardo Lami

 Opening: Friday June 17, from 6.30 pm

Galleria Romanelli, Borgo San Frediano 70, Firenze

Alchimia is happy to present BODIES AND MINDS, a group exhibition opening on June 17 at 6.30pm, featuring the work of its recent MFA graduates, choreographed as a conversation between contemporary jewellery and the sculptures and fascinating spaces of the historical Galleria Romanelli.

BODIES AND MINDS wants to incite a reflection on the hybrid nature of the contemporary artistic jewel, on the relationship between the body and the mind, on the constraints determined by physical prerequisites vis-à-vis conceptual investigations, between the weight of tradition and the fragility of innovation.

In 1829 the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini transforms an abandoned fourteenth century church in a studio where his student Pasquale Romanelli, followed by five generations of male heirs, develops the Romanelli Gallery. Hundred-eighty-seven years later six female jewellery artists take over the space and its collection challenging disciplinary and gender hierarchies. BODIES AND MINDS offers unexpected connections and ironic cultural appropriations, in a path that relates illustrious examples of copies and originals from the history of Italian sculpture to the experimental relational dimension of contemporary jewellery.

A large crowd of rings asks us to reflect on the manufacturing of our cultural identities, both as individuals and as members of larger communities, in Being and Belonging by Daria Borovkova. Another critical mass of circular shapes, now without a specific identity, characterizes In Conflict. Moments of Strike by Sana Khalil, a tribute or cynical celebration to the impossibility of the artist to perform direct political agency over the world. While such ambitions can only strengthen our sense of inadequacy, 1: 20,000 by Giulia Savino invites us to remain suspended, to let ourselves be carried away by those states of temporary sense of satisfaction that keep us above the world through the appropriation of real and imaginary cities. On a more personal level, Madeleine by Lavinia Rossetti evokes the ephemeral existence of our memories, finding ways to give form to the essence of significant moments. A similar sense of transience characterizes Trascendieron by María Ignacia Walker in a tribute to our daily losses, a possible humorous comment to the Western impulse to preserve and collect. Finally, and gently, True Lies. A Collection of Oxymoron by Federica Sala confronts us with existential questions: what is the true nature of our experience or how do we define reality, whispering, perhaps, what contemporary jewelry wants.

Poster A3 TRAZ


with jewellery by Anna Okamoto Gayton, Dana AL-Nafisi, Diana Pantea, Lena Kosztyucsenko, Sehnaz Erdal

Opening: Friday June 17, from 6.30 pm

Alchimia, Piazza Piattellina 3r, Firenze

On Friday 17 June at 6pm in Florence, Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School is proud to present the opening of the graduation exhibition of five 3rd year BFA students. “Wonder/Wander” will showcase a collection of jewellery reflecting the diversity of ideas of its makers, developed over a year of research into the limits and possibilities of materials.

To wonder is to admire and marvel, to feel doubt and confusion. To wander is to get lost, to drift aimlessly and circle around an idea. These two words encapsulate the various paths taken by the five students to reach the conclusion of their final collection. This exhibition is an invitation to explore and question your notion of what jewellery is, and to wander through the physical and conceptual spaces in which it was created.

Anna Okamoto Gayton (Japan/Australia) grapples with her cultural identity through the use of languages, adopted and native. Dana AL-Nafisi (Kuwait) is inspired by fossils and how they contain stories of the past, revealing the evolution of life through the ages. Diana Pantea (Romania) plays with reality and transforms it into the imaginary. Lena Kosztyucsenko (Russia/Hungary) explores movement and the connection between kinetic and static. Sehnaz Erdal (Sweden/Turkey) creates a physical metaphor for inner improvement.

Along with the BFA graduates, the ongoing work of current MFA 1st year students will be on display.

For further enquiries please contact






Alchimia Blog is excited to present a newly commissioned essay by Indian Munich-based philosopher and cultural theorist Pravu Mazumdar, examining the nature and future of art jewelry in relation to contemporary culture. A thought experiment, an act of wishful thinking towards jewelry as a discipline, as a philosophical rumination, and as a primary component of human life.

Munich, May 2016

Dear Jewellery,

I am quite aware that contemporary exchanges concerning your true nature are a kind of mined territory to be treaded carefully. One is well adviced not to forget that your contours are supposed to be sharp and that there is a constant need of drawing lines between you and other genres. One learns for instance never to accept any confusion between you and painting, sculpture, or photography in miniature, or – worse still – designer products or Modeschmuck. From time to time one is also reminded never to reduce you to the outcome of a mere craft. Aren’t you so much more as you glide across our skies on your conceptualist wings powered by instinct, intellect and all those formidable theories? And then there are of course the repeated injunctions not to confuse you with mere adornment – despite the fact that such distinctions are still so far removed from common evidence. For, outside a narrow circle of specialists, one does continue – with an innocence so typical of the thoughtless – to associate you with the vanity of a wearer expressed within the context of a social event. No idea, why this is so. I simply take it as a kind of philosophical mystery in need of closer scrutiny.

But it suddenly strikes me that you do lead a rather bashful existence among your cousins in the world of the arts, don’t you? Just look at the amount of media coverage painting, sculpture, opera, cinema, theater receive, whereas you are hardly ever seriously discussed, at least in meainstream journals. I guess this issues from the uncertainties related to your status, which in turn generates what seems to be a widespread need to situate, define and distinguish you from whatever you run the risk of getting mixed up with.

But isn’t there a strange contradiction in all such efforts? On the one hand everybody seems to recognise you instinctively: as part of that ancient package we seem to have inherited from our paleolithic ancestors and as an element of our collective unconscious structured by those archetypes proposed by C. G. Jung so many decades ago for a better understanding of human nature. On the other hand – and precisely due to the common and collective nature of our relation to you – there seems to be a strange aura of vulgarity around you, as if you were something like an anthropological undergarment to be ashamed of or in any case not worth reflecting on. While talking on freedom, exploitation, environment, terrorism, migration – all those powerful issues concerning us as global citizens of the 21. century –, we keep forgetting to talk about you – and for that matter our own bodies, which you have been so fatefully connected with since the dawn of our existence.

But, dear Jewellery, maybe things are far easier than all of this. Maybe you are simply everybody’s business, maybe that’s the way we are and there is no need to grope for any deeper reasons. In this vein I can only wish you a powerful return to our bodies and minds.


As I pause before signing this letter, I suddenly find myself caught up in a maelstrom of doubts. For who am I to you actually? I am aware that I am neither a maker nor a wearer nor a collector, but maybe just someone who has been struck – and undone – by the possibility that you might hold some of the answers to the mystery that I am to myself. So, instead of concluding this letter, I might as well continue my ramblings along more general lines and switch over to the third person …


Despite decades of critique, experiment and flights of conceptual imagination, jewellery continues to be admired or disdained as mere decoration, rather than being taken as what it has been for enormous stretches of human history: a technique of enhancement peculiar to human animals, rooted in a daily practice of fabricating one’s own image and generating more being. Inherent in such a practice is the art of appearance, which can easily pass for one of the most fundamental art forms accompanying human existence.

In fact, there seems to be a basic connection between the art of appearance and culture as such, if the latter is taken as a collection of techniques and rituals designed to enable collective living. These techiques not only support us in our elementary project of survival as we cross over from non-being to being, but also help us to distinguish our own cultural mode from those of others and thus delimit our cultural identity issuing from the specificities of our own practices of excess beyond all survival. The art of apprearance can be taken as one of the most ancient unconscious traditions at the threshold of all culture.

In tune with this tradition, human animals employ camouflage in two different senses. On the one hand they use camouflage to conceal themselves from powers that surpass and threaten them, the prime concern being survival. On the other hand they use camouflage in order to be more than what their adverseries are by appearing to be more than what they actually are. This second type of camouflaging is in use, when we mask ourselves with an image of ourselves in the context of our daily social interactions. To the extent that such images include symbolic elements, the art of appearing involves participation in the biological powers of stronger organisms through contact or substitution. One can drape oneself in the skin of a more powerful animal or arrange constellations of claws and teeth across one’s surface. In archaic techniques of appearance, masks, dress and jewellery are applied in order to transform a finite and mortal organism into something beyond itself. The application of symbols indicates an urge not only towards survival, but also towards excess, understood as the drive, the act and the experience of exceeding oneself.

In such a context, jewellery is optimally qualified to produce enhancement. Adornment is the degree zero of enhancement and is often expressive of the power of the powerless. As long as women are opressed, they are expected to be made pretty through jewellery. As long as elementary needs like dignity and participation are sidelined by the dispositives of consumerism, things like necklaces, brooches, rings will spiral down to mere adornment. The moment jewellery finds its place in the contemporary world as an act of resistance and as an expression of autonomy with respect to a norm, it triggers off the ancient project of self-enhancement.

I guess, such political constellations explain, why, despite the diatribes against Modeschmuck, jewellery continues to be seen as mere adornment, while evoking the typical highbrowed rejection from serious people in responses like: “I don’t care much about jewellery or appearances, because I am preoccupied with more adult concerns.” That obviously explains the absence of jewellery in the reflections of philosophers and sociologists and – in a compensatory manner – its exaggerated presence in social anthropology, which is primarily concerned with forms of pre-modern life that are already marginalised before being subjected to the ethnological gaze …


Take my case for instance. During my long liaison with philosophy, I never encountered jewellery as an object of theoretical enquiry. Nobody wrote about it, nobody discussed it, nobody seemed to be even aware that jewellery is not only something to be made or worn or admired on a body, but also something to be thought about. It figured at most in a metaphorical sense in terms like „Redeschmuck“, understood as tropes or figures functioning as techniques of enhancement of speech effects. Prominent philosophers like Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Foucault have reflected at length on art, but they never left the well trodden territories of traditionally acknowledged art forms like music, painting, literature. With respect to jewellery, not much more can be heard than an eloquent theoretical silence. One finds for instance the short essay by Georg Simmel titled “Psychologie des Schmucks”, written around 1908[1]; a small piece by Roland Barthes called “Des joyaux aux bijoux”, published around 1961[2]; and some stray allusions to jewellery in the unpublished writings of Walter Benjamin[3], who was anyway intrigued by visual practices like photography and cinema that also took a while to get recognised as art. That is all. Simmel and Barthes were both philosophically interested in the everyday aspects of modern life like fashion, popular culture and media, which is why they seemed to feel a brief need to turn their theoretical spotlights on jewellery. And then there are the architects Gottfried Semper[4] in the mid nineteenth and Adolph Loos[5] in the early twentieth century, who made some fundamental remarks on jewellery and ornamentation. The question is therefore not: “What is jewelry?”, but: “Why is jewellery absent in mainstream discourses?”

My own reflections on jewellery were sparked off by chance personal encounters. I literally stumbled into the world of contemporary jewellery without intending to and was struck by the powerful thinking inscribed into the works I happened to experience. Since then I have been writing on jewellery as a philosopher. All my texts are rooted in intense exchanges with makers, which certainly left their imprint on my philosophical enquiries in general. So it did not come as a surprise that at the start of an Australian lecture the issue of my identity surfaced once more. My host turned what was supposed to be an introduction to my person into the question: “Who are you actually? What is a guy like you doing in the world of jewellery?” I found the question justified, since I am in fact neither a maker, nor a wearer, nor a collector, and could only respond by comparing myself to the augures of old, who would probe into the entrails of living organisms to gather knowledge of the future. Similarly, I dissect the bodies of jewellery objects to read in their structure and composition what it means to be human at this hour of history.

The most striking aspect of my cooperation with makers till now has been the structural hybridity that has never been absent in our technical and intellectual exchanges. When a goldsmith and a writer join hands, their radically different work-worlds are inscribed into whatever they produce. The sheer heterogenity of the processes, materials, forms, interpretations connected to their normal daily work generates, at the end of their exchanges, a collage of their incompatible worlds. This was a recurrent experience, which attained a kind of climax, when a group of jewellers and metalsmiths answered a set of theoretical questions set by me in the mode of objects. These were presented at a Munich exhibition, in which the questions as well as my analyses of the object-answers also figured as exhibits crafted from the materiality of words. The space of the show became like a cloud chamber, in which the trajectories and transitions from the words to the materials used in the exhibits, like copper, porcelain, textiles, could be felt almost physically.[6]


In the first chapter of his esssay on symmetrical anthropology, “Nous n’avons jamais été moderns”, Bruno Latour goes through a long list of news items and reads in them the hybridity of the world as it presents itself to contemporary knowledge.[7] Such media based mainstream discourses, probably the strongest factor informing our contemporary sense of reality, have us constantly crossing the boundaries between nature and culture, as we switch from biology to politics, from politics to economics, from economics to medicine etc. in our daily preoccupations with the global threats assailing us in our contemporary world. The analytical technique engineered by Latour and his friends, known as the Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), in fact does away with the more or less occult idea of society or the social and focusses instead on hybrid constellations of human actors and non-human elements. To understand sociologically the communication processes unfolding in a round table discussion, we need to go beyond traditional sociology and take not only the human actors, but also the table itself into account.

This is not entirely new. In the late sixties of the twentieth century Jean Baudrillard designed a sociology of furniture.[8] In the mid-seventies, Michel Foucault defined the dispositve as a collection of heterogenous objects like laws, documents, architectures, bodies, etc., stringed together by a common strategic purpose.[9] His famous example was the sexuality dispositive, connecting knowledges, institutions, practices, bodies to generate a fiction called sex, which we are urged to talk about incessantly. In the eighties, Donna Haraway unfolded a fictional ontology based on the idea of the cyborg, the Cybernetic Organisms populating our contemporary world and constantly crossing the boundaries we have got used to draw between nature/culture, organisms/machines and materialities/immaterialities.[10] Acccording to Haraway, human existence in the contemporary world is better characterised by the ontological mode of the cyborg. More recently, the physicist and gender theorist, Karen Barad, has proposed that we determine the apparatus in scientific experiments as a hybrid constellation of human agencies and non human objects.[11] In the philosophical movement called The New Realism led by people like Maurizio Ferraris and Markus Gabriel, reality is nothing other than the events breaking into the constructivist fictions of a unified and interconnected world and manifesting itself as the heterogenity and plurality of fields of meaning coexisting and succeeding each other.[12] The experience of the hybrid seems to be inseparable from our collective contemporary experience.


I guess one can take off from such ideas and learn to see jewellery as something that is much more than an object produced by a maker, attached to a body and displayed at a social event. Instead, one can see it as part of a dispositive connecting objects, bodies, gazes, events, institutions to generate appearance through surfaces of enhancement and the interactional energies specific to them.

From its earliest manifesations on, jewellery has functioned as an intermediary. The actual work of art resulting from the process of making, wearing and displaying it is neither the biological body of the wearer nor an object attached to the body, but the hybrid entity of an animal organism draped in metals, minerals, etc., to attain something like a temporary enhancement associated with a particular moment in time. Jewellery has always taken up its position in the intermediary space between Haraway’s opposing spheres, which according to her vision of the cyborg are being challenged and overcome in the contemporary world. Placed between the body and the world, jewellery is neither something merely biological, nor purely social, nor as distantly objective as the mountains or the stars. It is neither only natural nor only cultural, neither only animal nor only mechanical or artifactual, neither only material nor only immaterial. It is simply an intermediary, understood as the medium of hybridity of a materially and symbolically enhanced organism.

My own ongoing involvement with jewellery has, as mentioned earlier, resulted from more or less coincidental encounters between the heterogenous worlds of makers and the writer that I am, so that I was constantly faced with the issue of hybridity in questions like: How do words and metals tally? How does the materiality of a text relate to the language of a material? Are there structural homologies beween the logic of enchainement of ideas and the material techniques of enchainement in jewellery?[13] If words can respond to objects – which is what I am constantly expected to implement as a writer – can also objects respond to words?[14] In this sense, my experience of jewellery has had me zigzagging between an outer circle of hybridity issuing from the interdisciplinary nature of my collaboration with makers and an inner circle centered on the inherent hybridity of jewellery itself. I guess, this experience has been seminal for my approach and my choice of the works feeding my ongoing enquiries within the wider horizon of a philosophical diagnosis of the present.

There are innumerable examples for the inherent hybridity of jewellery in contemporary works. One can find hybridity on the level of the material, as in the case of the Heart brooches of Peter Bauhuis (Germany), made of silver but perceiveable in their surface appearance as weathered pebbles. The same holds for the silver bracelets in David Bielander’s (Switzerland) Cardboard Series, in which the silver is visually indistinguishable from cardboard. Another example is the ice jewellery of Kirsten Haydon (New Zealand), in which tiny glass reflector beads are sprinkled on metal surfaces to give them the look of ice and to evoke reminiscences of Antarctic expanses. Such works enact and manifest a hybridity between the haptic and the visual: what can be touched and weighed, is not what can be seen in the same object.


Peter Bauhuis (2003), Heart brooches, silver


David Bielander (2015), Cardboard 2015, bracelets, silver, white gold staples


David Bielander (2015), Diana with watch, Cardboard 2015, bracelet, silver, white gold staples


Kirsten Haydon (2011), ice plane, brooch, enamel, photo transfer, reflector beads, copper, silver, steel, 80x80x10mm. Photo credit: Jeremy Dillon


Kirsten Haydon (2011), ice movement, 2011, neckpiece, enamel, reflector beads, copper, silver, 390x200x30mm. Photo credit : Jeremy Dillon

Haydon’s work also represents a hybridity in scale, as she captures the vastness and sublimity of Antarctic ice landscapes within the anthropomorphic proportions of jewellery. The same can be observed in the Façades brooches/neck pieces by Beatrice Brovia (Italy) and Nicholas Chang (Hongkong), made of marble extracted from the Carrara massif and cut down to the proportions of jewellery and then sculpted to produce the look of soft cotton fabric and the optical illusion of lightness. The effect is heightened through the mode of presentation, in which the anthropomorphic scale of jewellery is visually confronted with photographic reminiscences of the great Carrara range as its background and source.


Beatrice Brovia, Nicholas Chang (2011), necklace, Carrara marble, PVC, silver

One can also observe hybridity on the level of production technique, form and narrative, as in the works of Robert Baines (Australia, Phoenician gold hoard) or Peter Bauhuis (Germany, Gallium hoard of Obertraun), in which ancient metallurgical techniques are applied to produce a kind of pseudo-historical jewellery that is subsequently displayed in the context of invented narratives. This leads to a disconcerting hybridity in the status of the objects, resulting from carefully constructed historical fictions injected into a real and contemporary artistic practice.[15]


Robert Baines (1997-2008), The Gold Hoard from The Phoenician Colony Settlement at Freshwater Point on the Queensland Coast. Gold Jewellery from the Bronze Age, Phoenician (?), approx. 2. half of 7th century BC., gold. Foto: Gary Sommerfeld


Peter Bauhuis (2011), The Gallium Hoard of Obertraun, Gallium

As a last example, I would like to mention the occurence of hybridity on the level of function. This can be observed in Johanna Zellmer’s (Germany/New Zealand) jewellery and passport project Forged, in which the metal of a coin symbol is hammered and flattened out, perforated with the passport number of a participant and then attached to the participant’s ear with the plastic tubing of a hearing aid. This produces the effect that the passport number punched into the metal is projected onto the neck of the wearer as an image of dotted light reminiscent of neon ads. The actual piece of jewellery resulting from such a process is thus a hybrid object functioning as adornment and political intervention at the same time, as it enacts a return of the deep data of an individual wearer, monopolised by the modern state and symbolically condensed to a passport number, back to the surface.[16]


Johanna Zellmer (2013), Forged, copper alloy, plastic tubing, archival satin fine art paper

To sum up, I see in contemporary jewellery a strong potential for the employment of hybridity as a mode of political and cognitive intervention. Unfurling the hybridity coiled up within the folds of jewellery would involve crossing boundaries in a zigzag movement between what seems to be incompatible spheres. I dream of great collaborative projects, in which studios and laboratories work together and jewellers cooperate not only with philosophers, but also with natural scientists, economists, politicians, health scientists, environmentalists, etc. in order to produce objects that are not only to be worn and seen, but also to be read as a contribution to our contemporary understanding of what it means to be human under the abyssmal conditions of our globalised order of things.

Pravu Mazumdar studied physics in New Delhi and Munich and has a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Stuttgart, West Germany. He writes in German and English, and his books, which use themes like migration and consumerism to unfold a diagnosis of modernity, are closely connected to French Postmodernism, in particular the philosophy of Michel Foucault. His essay on jewellery was published in 2015 under the title: Gold und Geist: Prolegomena zu einer Philosophie des Schmucks (“Gold and Mind: Prolegomena towards a Philosophy of Jewellery”), Berlin: Matthes & Seitz.

[1] Georg Simmel, „Psychologie des Schmucks“ in Aufsätze und Abhandlungen 1901-1908, vol. II, ed. by Alessandro Cavalli u. Volkhard Krech in Gesamtausgabe, ed. by Otthein Rammstedt, vol. 8, Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1993, pp. 385-393.

[2] „Des joyaux aux bijoux“ in Roland Barthes, Oeuvre complètes, vol. I, 1942-1965, ed. by Éric Marty, Paris: Éditions du seuil, 1993, pp. 911-914.

[3] See for example Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. by Rolf Tiedemann & Hermann Schweppenhäuser, vol. II.3, Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1977, p. 958.

[4] Semper, Gottfried, Über die formelle Gesetzmässigkeit des Schmuckes und dessen Bedeutung als Kunstsymbol, Zürich: Meyer & Zeller, 1856.

[5] Loos defined aesthetic progress as „the trajectory of culture from the ornament to the loss of ornament“. See Adolph Loos, Trotzdem (1900-1930), ed. by A. Opel, Vienna, 1982, p. 92. (Transl. by P. M.)

[6] The show, titled Answering Pravu, took place in Munich in March, 2015. The seven participating artists – from Stockholm, London and Munich – were Tobias Birgersson, Henrik Brandt, David Clarke, Frederik Ingemansson, Magnus Liljedahl, Karen Pontppidan, Miro Sazdic.

[7] Bruno Latour, Nous n’avons jamais été modernes. Essai d’anthropologie symétrique, Paris: Éditions La Découverte, 1991.

[8] Baudrillard, Jean (1968), Das Ding und das Ich (Le système des objets, dt.) Gespräch mit der täglichen Umwelt, Wien: Europaverlag, 1974.

[9] See „Le jeu de Michel Foucault (entretien sur l’Histoire de la sexualité)“ in Michel Foucault, Dits et écrits, III, ed. by Daniel Defert and François Ewald in cooperation with Jacques Lagrange, Paris: Gallimard, 1994, no. 206: pp. 298-329.

[10] Donna Haraway, „A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century“, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, New York: Routledge, 1991, pp.149-181.

[11] Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2007.

[12] See Markus Gabriel (ed.), Der Neue Realismus, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2014.

[13] I have tried to address some aspects of this question in „Wearing the world. Some reflections on jewellery and metaphysics“ in Manon van Kouswijk, Hanging Around, Hoofddorp: Uitgeverij Boek, 2010

[14] This question essentially motivated the experimental Project Answering Pravu mentioned above.

[15] I have discussed these works in detail in Gold und Geist, Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2015.

[16] See Pravu Mazumdar, „Returning to the Surface“ in Johanna Zellmer, Forged, Cologne & New York: Darling Publications, 2015: pp. 9 – 59.

ADORNMENT Invito digitale 1



The shape of wearable art

Opening Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 19.00

From Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 20.00

May 25 – June 26, 2016

Venice in a Bottle Gallery

30122 Venice

Alchimia is proud to announce its participation in Adornment, an exhibition reflecting on the fine line between jewellery, design and art, taking place at Venice in a Bottle Gallery from May 25 to June 26, during the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016.

Programmed within the largest event on design in Venice Design.Ve and curated by Ilaria Ruggiero, the exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of Alchimia and under the patronage of the Associazione Gioiello Contemporaneo.

Design.Ve is the brainchild of Francesca Giubilei and Luca Berta – independent curators, gallery owners and founders of Veniceartfactory – lives of the contribution of an international scientific committee composed by Joris Montens, Ilaria Ruggiero, Francesca Valente, Nannet van der Kleijn, Micaela Zucconi and benefits from the advice of AtemporaryStudio, to offer an unprecedented look on design.
Design.Ve exists as a diffused festival where installations in the urban texture interact with exhibitions, and where traditional craftsmanship meets modern experimentation. Emerging designers and international design brands will carry out a new city map in Design Walks Through Venice.

Adornment – Contemporary Jewelry Exhibition represents, within the festival, the section devoted to contemporary jewelry. With the intention of creating an annual event in the Venetian cultural programming, this year’s theme is ‘The shape of wearable art’: a jewel that explores the typical formal boundaries of the body to challenge stereotyped notions and expectations.

The exhibition expands the fluid and wide boundaries of wearable art, seeking the original meaning of the ornament as a symbol of deep identification and belonging to a specific community, from the social to the spiritual level. Especially this year, pieces were selected for their shapes, their design and their clever use of materials, for challenging the conventional space of the body and entering into new and unexpected forms of dialogue, able to unveil new senses and meanings tied to the identity of the individual, as a single human being or as part of a community.

Lucia Massei, Director of the school, says: “the jewel represents the gift par excellence. It is one of the oldest responses to an aesthetic and emotional human impulse; it has a special potentiality of communication, and allows to better define the identity of the wearer within a social context.”

On display will be 14 international artists and designers: Rosalba Balsamo, Florence Croisier, Clara del Papa, Marion Delarue, Eleonora Ghilardi, Elie Hirsch, Florence Jaquet, Laberintho, Chiara Lucato, Letizia Maggio, Paola Mirai, Ōki Izumi, Nazan Pak and Caterina Zanca.

Alchimia presents a selection of works realized by the graduating students of its MFA in Jewellery and Body Ornament: Daria Borovkova, Enrica Prazzoli, Lavinia Rossetti, Federica Sala, Giulia Savino and María Ignacia Walker Guzmán.

The use of experimental techniques and unusual materials as well as both formal and aesthetic philosophical research, enhance the expressive and communicative potential of these works. From the socio-cultural investigation made by Daria Borovkova to the futuristic vision of Enrica Prazzoli, jewellery finds new lives and expressions: the research on memory and belonging conduced by Lavinia Rossetti is alternated with the more introspective and psychological approach of Federica SalaGiulia Savino, in her necklaces, offers a representation of identity linked to the mapping of spaces and psyches, while María Ignacia Walker Guzmán is committed to a mystical and alchemical study of the body.

Generally, the works in the exhibition vary, ranging from delicate and minimal creations to sculptures. With her jewel Florence Croisier draws the body almost as weaving a cloth, proposing a graphic, clean, linear and subtle work thanks to the high quality of the materials she uses; Florence Jaquet with her Literary Jewels and Chiara Lucato in her collection The Storyteller, intervene in shapes to invade the body through stories that are layered in the folds of the paper and in the delicacy of a magic lantern; Elie Hirsch and Ōki Izumi interpret two conceptual opposites of jewellery sculpture, the first tied to a primordial era, warm and archetypal, almost tribal, while the second focuses on the heavenly purity of geometric and light transparency of glass; Eleonora Ghilardi and Letizia Maggio have different and original visions of the ceramic and porcelain jewelry, which is here interpreted in various forms, styles and techniques; Rosalba Balsamo and Paola Mirai work in a futurist and contemporary direction, experimenting with techniques and materials, and giving priority to plastic and aesthetic design. Marion Delarue develops her research straddling Eastern symbolism and introspection, working on the energy of jewelries and treating them as potential amulets; clean lines and attention to geometry characterize the creations of both Nazan Pak and Caterina Zanca, the first attracted to soft, enveloping shapes, the second dedicated to conceptual and minimal compositions that alternate and play with spaces and materials, emptiness and fullness. The goldsmith tradition finds, finally, new expressive potential in the contemporary creations by Clara del Papa and Laberintho, whose jewelry echoes styles of past epochs.

The exhibition will open on May 26 at 19.00, while on May 25 the Design.Ve initiative will officially open with a press preview over the day at Palazzo Loredan from 11.00 to 17.00 and an opening cocktail from 19.00 to 21.00.


For further information and high resolution images contact:

Ilaria Ruggiero:, ph: 39 347 93 963 000

Organization and production

Ilaria Ruggiero | Claudia Capodiferro


Design fringe festival dedicated to the contemporary and international cutting-edge design scene, presented on the occasion of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016.


ALCHIMIA – CONTEMPORARY JEWELLERY SCHOOL was founded in 1998 in Florence by Doris Maninger and Lucia Massei, its current Director. The method of ALCHIMIA draws on the revision and adoption of traditional techniques and carefully selected materials combined with experimental and groundbreaking approaches to jewellery design. By adopting the technological developments of our time and the most experimental cultural trends, Alchimia encourages its students to enhance their talents and develop a personal and innovative creative language.


ASSOCIAZIONE GIOIELLO CONTEMPORANEO is a nonprofit organization founded in Trieste in 2004 by a group of professionals to build new opportunities for development and redevelopment of the jewelry industry. Enhances and promotes the culture of contemporary jewelry meant as: artistic research, innovation of the concept of ornament, experimenting with new materials and technology, study and actualization of the historical heritage of knowledge and skill.


i+i studio was established in 2007 by the will of Giorgia Chinellato and Federico Frison to broaden their professional experience and offer service rooted in historical center of the city of Venice, directing their interest to the design, redevelopment, restoration and the establishment of interior spaces.  They follow customers accompanying them step by step in the design process and construction: from the preliminary idea, preparing and launching the authorization procedures, Supervision, accounting and worksite safety coordinating contractors, businesses and craftsmen in the development and realization of the work.

Vini Piovene Porto Godi – Piovene Porto Godi family produces wine and olive oil in Toara, in one of the best areas of the Berici Hills. The choice has always been for grapes of the territory, as the Tai Rosso. The respect of time is the secret to obtain high quality wines. The company also offers hospitality. Those who want the experience of living in a country house in the hills of Vicenza, can stop in the old mill or in the colombara.

Dates: 19 to 23 July 2016
30 hours
Cost: 700 euro + 22% VAT
Deadline for enrollment: June 13, 2016

This workshop, led by British jewelry artist Patrick Davison, will be focused on a variety of mixed metal processes. The different methods will involve working with wire, sheet and tube. Participants will explore the diverse ways in which mixed metal work can be approached, including soldering and fusing.

An introduction to working with wire will start the course. Techniques including twisting and weaving will be covered, each revealing a different pattern and texture depending on which technique is used. Each individual process will be taught in great detail, highlighting the rich effects that can be gained by applying quite simple changes to each approach.

The techniques participants will engage with are different to the well-known process of Mokume Gane. In fact, the course focus lies in constructing a material, allowing its structure, naturally created during its making, to be integral to the final pattern. Mokume Gane will also be discussed but with the intention to find new approaches to working with it.

Understanding solder alloys will be very important for some of the techniques, so an introduction to making solder will be an important part of the course. It is essential for some of the other techniques the course deals with, to make or own solder wire – anyway  a useful skill both to save time and money in the workshop. Participants will look at each of the results from different approaches, acquiring the capacity to design with mixed metals, and the knowledge on the mechanical properties of the materials and the aesthetic challenges they pose.

Finally, each student will be able to generate a great understanding of a range of techniques, with a steady focus during the last days to make a piece of jewellery. Knowledge of forming and finishing will be covered, resulting in a firm foundation of mixed metal working skills.

Patrick Davison studied at the Glasgow School of Art and at Alchimia Jewellery School in Florence with the tutorship of Ruudt Peters. Patrick was awarded a silver medal at the 2010 Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship and Design Awards.


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