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A few weeks back, we reported from Munich about the inspiring group show Light Matters that took place during this year’s annual Jewellery Week. Berlin-based jewellery artist and lighting designer Daria Olejniczak, Alchimia Bachelor graduate, had cooked up an exciting collaboration with the lighting design company ERCO who offered their showroom and state-of-the-art illumination equipment for this showcase of six jewellery artists. The result was widely acclaimed as one of the highlights of the Jewellery Week. Due to its success and positive feedback, Daria and ERCO decided to go for a second round and present the show again but differently in the company’s Berlin showroom.

This time Daria approached the organisers of “48-hours-Neukölln”, an annual art festival in the south-eastern district of Neukölln in Berlin. The festival had announced ‘shadow’ to be this year’s thematic framework, which seemed a perfect fit for this exhibition project. The Berlin art festival was happy to include it in their program, under one condition: that it takes place somewhere in Neukölln. That turned out to be a little tricky, as ERCO’s Berlin showroom is located in the adjacent neighborhood Kreuzberg, about 400 meters away from Neukölln. This posed a big challenge for Daria and her collaborators, as the exhibition concept relies on the symbiosis between the selected art works and the professional lighting infrustructure. The solution that they came up with is as smart as it is bizarre: the event was simply broadcast via video live streaming to a venue in Neukölln called Polymedialer Ponyhof (which literally translates to poly-media pony yard). So technically, there were two events happening at the same time, one analog, physical exhibition in Kreuzberg, and its digital counterpart in Neukölln.

Daria says that the experience in Munich helped her a lot to set the exhibition in Berlin. Also, she explains, the result was even better than in Munich because she and her team managed to apply new and different lights that gave them even more subtle results. They ultimately used decided a greater number of luminaires yet dimmed to a lower output. The created effect was much stronger, as each collection had its own specific light while the remaining space between the individual collections could stay darker. The impression of encountering works as floating in space and creating little islands with each collection turned out to be richly emphasized.

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As such, it also highlighted once more the prime idea behind this collaboration, as expressed in the exhibitions title: LIGHT MATTERS. As the show has proven, light does matter, and not only for the artwork but also for the visitors. When using professional glare-free spots, not only the pieces are properly lit, but also viewers cast no shadows on the exhibits when looking at them closely. The light situation stays stable and viewers can focuse their perception on the pieces of art.

Caption is the same for all images: Photo by Mehdi Bahmed

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Máret Ánne Sara, Pile o’ Sápmi, cast porcelain necklace made from the ash of reindeer bones, approx. 200 pieces

Every five years, the largest and supposedly most important festival of contemporary art, called Documenta, transforms the small, buttoned-down town of Kassel in the middle of Germany into the epicenter of the global art world. The 100-days long event was established in 1955 in an attempt to revive Germany’s and Europe’s art and cultural scene, both countering and washing off the taste of two decades of Nazi repression. Back then people called it the “museum of 100 days”. Over the years, the Documenta has grown into an event of mindblowing proportions. Even art professionals and frequent biennial visitors are blown away by its ever-growing size and amount of artworks and events, reaching far beyond the museum walls.

This year’s 14th edition continues to push the boundaries. For the first time in its history, Documenta is taking place in not only one but two cities, Athens and Kassel, under the controversial title “Learning from Athens”. About his decision to split up the festival between two locations Adam Szymczyk, d14 Artistic Director, said: “This one is trying to stay out of focus. It is not so much about making a point, but about showing different posibilities from so many different points of view. The logical consequence was to have it divided between two cities.”

Documenta is known for being a political exhibition, addressing contemporary issues in society head-on, and thus acting as a signpost for formal and thematic trends in the years to come. So it seems only natural that, in a year like 2017, themes related to the current global refugee crisis feature in multiple variations. Many artists deal either directly or indirectly with migration, transit and transitions, trade routes and nomadic cultures. One of the pretexts for Documenta 14 is to leave the northern European comfort zone and look at these issues from the global South, if necessary to change perspective and assume a position akin to the South as a State of Mind (which is also the title of Documenta 14’s ongoing publication series). So rather than representing other people’s struggles, we are called upon to learn from those who are struggling themselves. Naturally, that also includes minorities like the nomadic Sámi people. Even though they don’t live in the south by any means but inhabit the most northern regions of Europe, their culture and livelihood are also threatened by neoliberal politics and globalist expansion. One major threat for the Sámi comes with new legislation that prevents them from herding reindeer according to their thousand-year old tradition.

Máret Ánne Sara, born 1983 in Hammerfest, Norway, is one of many Sámi artists present in this Documenta. In a series of works, she aims to raise awareness for their struggle with state interventions that prohibit them from living the way they are used to. Her brother, Jovsset Ánte Sara, recently won an important trial against the Norwegian state and managed to defend the property rights of the Sámi against the 2007 Reindeer Herding Act, which constrains herd sizes to an unacceptable minimum.

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Máret Ánne Sara, Pile o’ Sápmi, installation

Pile o’ Sápmi draws upon spiritual, ecological, and political concerns. It references “Pile of Bones,” the Indigenous name for the place where the Cree nation stacked buffalo bones to anchor the animals’ spirits to the land, thereby ensuring their continued presence in what is today known as Western Canada. The artist also refers to the brutal colonial history of North America, when millions of bisons were killed in the 1800s and their bones ground into fertilizer or shipped overseas, where it was made into fine buffalo bone china and sold to wealthy European families. As a nod to the way that this destructive history now mimics what is taking place in regard to the reindeer culls in Norway, Sara commissioned a porcelain necklace made from ground reindeer bones. Its exaggerated size, almost absurdly proportioned relative to the human body, is deliberate. Sara notes that many city mayors and governmental leaders wear elaborate neckpieces adorned with crests as a demonstration of prestige and power. She intends her necklace to serve a similar function.

 

More: http://www.documenta14.de/en/artists/13491/maret-anne-sara

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Daria Olejniczak –  lighting designer with an over 10-years- long career in architectural lighting, who freshly graduated in contemporary jewelry at Alchimia, curated Light Matters, a group exhibition taking place during the Munich Jewellery Week at the Erco Showroom with works by Daria Borovkova, Maria Ignacia Walker, Lavinia Rossetti, Lena Grabher, Valentina Caprini and Daria herself.

We have asked her to look back at this experience and share it with us.

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Exhibition view, photograther: Lukas Gaechter

THE IDEA

I was in Munich in 2016, having a look at the shows of other jewellery artists. Of course as a a lighting designer I always tend to pay attention to the illumination first. Unfortunately, I had to notice that lighting was treated pretty superficially. All the designers during the jewelry week face similar challenges, as they exhibit in spaces that are often used only temporarily as galleries, so I understand that the effort to organize a professional lighting is usually just too overwhelming (or expensive). However this was exactly the moment I got struck and decided to connect my two professions in one show. From my experience, I can say that whenever I have this kind of “aha-moment” in life, sooner or later my vision comes true. More or less one year later, I was in Munich standing in a room with 5 other artists, happy to open the show LIGHT MATTERS to the public. In the exhibition light was exactly as important as the pieces, and had a leading role in the developing of the concept, the title, the displays, the choice of the pieces, the promotion and the marketing.

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Work: Series “PiGreco” by Lavinia Rossetti, Photographer: Lukas Grabher

THE PREPARATION

For me the first step was to find artists who are motivated, hard-working and whose pieces interact differently with light. Intuitively I decided to work with Daria Borovkova, Maria Ignacia Walker, Lavinia Rossetti, who I knew from the school, and two other artists Lena Grabher and Valentina Caprini, who I had never met before. I liked the variety of the textures, colours, materials we used in our works. Optic lenses, transparencies, perforations, fine-mesh-structures, organic forms all correspond in their own way with different qualities of light – as colour rendering index, beam angle, light temperature, etc.

Together we prepared a common portfolio and I decided to approach ERCO, one of the internationally known lighting fixtures manufacturer, which specializes in adjustable spotlights, commonly used in museums and galleries. I was happy that my proposal for cooperation was taken very positively. I went to Munich to see the venue of the Erco Showroom, which happened to be a beautiful spacious office in an old city house.

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Work: Series “Pink roots” by Valentina Caprini

 

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Work: Series “Bodies” by Daria Olejniczak

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Work: Series “Being and belonging” by Daria Borovkova

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Work: Series “Piel” by Maria Ignacia Walker

THE EXECUTION

I found it very important to stay focused and dot down all the tasks which had to be performed till the opening. It was a lot! Finances, displays, press release, application for the event, photos, catalogue design, printing and marketing, require a lot of time and patience. I am very grateful to my team for understanding that it was sometimes stressful for me to be in charge of all the coordination. Eventually all went well, despite many hurdles on the way, which it is good to laugh about at the end. The regularity of the meetings and the discussions allowed us to stay motivated, and to complete all of the tasks (otherwise the collective goal diffuses). We were eager to use all the latest digital means of communication, doodle, skype, dropbox, google shared files, which made it possible to share info and communicate effectively despite the distance that was between us – I live in Berlin, Lena in Vienna, and the others are based in Florence.

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Work: Series “Diplopia” by Lena Grabher

THE OPENING

LIGHT MATTERS received an overwhelming positive response, which makes me believe the reason behind it was the fresh idea of bringing together two realities of contemporary jewellery and high-tech lighting, connection which was never made before. Also the diversity of the visitors made it extra interesting – not only the contemporary jewellery community was there, but also architects, designers and ERCO customers. The opening was announced as the “highlight of the day” by Wiener Schmucktage and it happened to be on the personal galleries route of Bella Neyman (owner of the Gallery Reinstein Ross in New York) which was published in the Current Obsession Magazine.

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Exhibition opening

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Exhibition opening

THE LEARNING

I am especially happy and proud that this first show created new possibilities for the whole group, and for myself. LIGHT MATTERS was invited to the Silver Festival in Legnica in Poland, where it can be seen on May 19 and 20. It also got accepted as part of an art festival in Berlin, the 48 Std. Neukölln, where again the exhibition will be hosted by the ERCO Showroom from June 23 to 25. These results show me that it was all worth the effort. After the closure of the exhibition, when all the excitement leaves, it’s good to sit down and note all the things that went well and what could be improved. And than enjoy, enjoy that moment of pride.

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Exhibition opening

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Exhibition opening

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Exhibition opening

 

 

 

Dear jewelry friends,

it is often said that Florence has very little devoted to contemporary cultures, so on a grey Sunday like this we decided to pitch to you three shows of contemporary visual arts we believe you shouldn’t miss while here. And we believe so because all of them, although in completely different ways and rather laterally more than literally, engage with the human body and its representation. Un-doubtly food for thought for jewelry makers around the world.

[Disclaimer: two out of the three shows we recommend have been curated or organized by some of our present or past Alchimia Team members. This is to say that we are not entirely partial but also that our staff really is the best you can find around.]

We start with WOMAN POWER a solo-show by Maria Lassnig (1914 – 2014), on view until June 25 at the Andito deli Angiolini of Palazzo Pitti. A paramount austrian artist of the XX century, this exhibition features 25 of her works, spanning her career from the beginning of the Sixties and until the first decade of the XX century. The female body and its self-representation are at the core of her practice, for a path that calls for women’s emancipation.

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It’s also so beautiful to read in capital letters Woman Power in front of one of the city’s strongest symbols)

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Electronic Renaissance, a solo-show by Bill Viola at Palazzo Strozzi on view until July 23.

Viola has explored Christianity and its representation in the XV and XVI century as a tool to reflect on contemporary society and its faces and facets. With a touch of new age spiritual vibe, his works are a whirlwind of emotions and spectacularity. A reflection about life and death as felt and seen through the decay or perfection of the human body.

Whether you like this master of video-art or not, this is an exhibition that is worth seeing already for two main reasons: one is that for the first time Viola’s relation to Renaissance’s painting is brought to the fore via a direct dialogue with the original paintings he was inspired by; the second is that this is a large solo-exhibition through which you can experience and understand the artist’s practice from the seventies and until today, hence allowing for a much more nuanced understanding of his oevre as a whole (including jewels of documentation of Viola’s three years experience working as an assistant in Tuscany with the ground breaking Art/tapes/22).

Our dream art history and cultural theory professor Riccardo Lami has been a core member in the organization of this show.

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Essentially Jérôme Bel offers a different approach to dance. One in which dancers become speaking subjects and the co-authors of his works. In which professional dancers and amateurs from different cultural and social contexts have access, together, to the stage. Where the realm of the “real” and of its excluded subjects becomes the content and form of his choreographic pieces.

Also in this exhibition the body and its forms are paramount, a body that is diverse and emancipated, a body that is hard to see at the centre stage: where disabled, elderly, people with diverse cultural and ethnical backgrounds, and even children, perform a dance that moves miles away from our standard conception of beauty and movement.

The show will open on Friday the 28th without the classic on-invite-only-entrance: so get yourself together and make the effort to go to Prato where you’ll be able to see the exhibition for free and experience a number of live performances for the occasion (at 7 and at 9pm + an ongoing one). 

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Enjoy the week and go see some art.

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Alchimia

 

A report by Lilian Mattuschka

With photos by Piero Arico

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Otto Kunzli, Quidam, from 7.03 to 14.03 2017 at Galerie Wittembrik

As every year during the jewellery week, Munich is invaded by strange characters, recognizable thanks to their unique tendency to wear ornament and decoration.

During these intense days, you will see colourful broaches, big necklaces and eye-catching rings all around the city, and if these signs are not evident enough you can identify them because of the one common object everyone holds tight in their hands: the Current Obsession map/book.

Makers, collectors, gallerists, students and just curious people (way less than the others, indeed) from different cultural backgrounds come together with a common goal: contemporary jewellery.

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Pearl Necklace, 2016, Carved freshwater pearls

As a professional myself, I want to share my favourites of this Munich jewellery week 2017:

BEATRICE BROVIA AND NICOLAS CHENG, “GOLD RUSH”

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Gold Rush, 2017, Exhibition view, Beatrice Brovia and Nicolas Cheng

One of the most interesting and complete exhibitions in this year´s schmuck thanks to a perfectly working dialog between the display and the pieces.

Visitors were encouraged to look beyond the regular ways in which highly precious materials are used in the jewellery field, and to reflect on their controversial nature.

With a series of very clean and aesthetically pleasing pieces made out of e-waste Brovia and Cheng where putting their focus on the normally invisible uses of gold.

AKIKO KURIHARA “THE CAT DID IT”

Smart and funny as every year. Always a pleasure to visit and see what new game is on the table of Akiko Kurihara.

JORGE MANILLA “ABRUPTIONS”

A mysterious and dark experience in strong contrast with the enthusiastic crowd of visitors that were literally fighting to touch the enchanting skin of these guts-like pieces.

COCO SUNG “KARMA”

Freedom was the first thing that came to my mind when I entered in CoCo Sung’s show. Refreshing and inspiring, a beautiful combination between painting and jewellery.

Sung opened up to visitors her imaginary world with courage and great ability in combining colour, shapes and material.

To know more about Alchimia jewellery school in Florence check our main website.

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Marissa Ryan Racht’s new body of work titled Farview, outcome of a two-year research developed within the MA program of Alchimia, exists on what she defines as “the fine line between fear and empathy that defines us as human beings, and the methods we use to conceal them or protect ourselves against them”. Delicate but ultimately rough, seducing in a rather uncanny way, hard to define or classify, her pieces could be read and experienced within a larger exhibitionary framework in which images, photographs and a video introduced the audience to her larger set of references, both architectural and biographical, and to a particular type of drawings she realized with closed eyes incited by the reading of stories of fear and empathy of other people.

But let’s start from the basics. The site of the show, was a space available for an affordable rent in the center of Florence that created the right environment for the pieces.

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Tables (and mind: beautiful ones taken from an antiquary) were hung from the ceiling so as to keep the jewelry pieces in the center of the exhibition format, surrounded by the other elements of the show such as the drawings.

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Did you notice the white leather chair? Quite a number were distributed through the space, to direct specific viewing positions Marissa was interested in facilitating.

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Marissa brought forward two collaborations, one for the images with Lilian Mattuschka, and one for a film with Federico Cavicchioli.

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She printed a beautiful catalogue in 60 copies, designed by Lumy Noguez, with texts by curator and writer Riccardo Lami and herself, images of the pieces and many of her drawings. The price is 15eu only for special and limited edition, so we can’t but encourage to get one at your earliest convenience.

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Last but not least: the carefully arranged food, as Marissa really takes care of every detail.

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And of course as always we recommend: don’t forget to thanks friends (and family). As far as we know Carla Movia and Bernardo Cioci were paramount in making this happen.

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It’s not easy to advice jewelry maker Carla Movia. Not easy because she mostly knows and plans everything before you were even asked. She does research, she studies possibilities. She knows what has preceded her and has very strong esthetic opinions on contemporary jewelry and its different threads. She reads, she sees a lot, and is very well informed. She is hungry of a particular type of knowledge, and she perfectly knows what she is looking for. Nomen Nescio, the exhibition coming out of her 2 years research during the MFA program at Alchimia, and essentially an installation of 300 brooches, shows exactly all of that.

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The pieces highlight a uniqueness amongst the mass, hence the decision to show them in grids was a very smart one. Instead of creating chaotic crowds of pieces shown throughout the space, this type of display setting gives the visitor the chance to really care and look for the details and the differences between them.

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Each piece came with its own “passport”: literally a sort of identity document for the pieces, giving information about them, such as their names, materials, leaving space to document their journeys and speak of their future owners. This gives the pieces a political tone, one that speaks of citizenship and sense of identity.

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As we always suggest at Alchimia: do make good edition pieces. Here you can see how several in fact were sold. Please note that this can be your little contribution to society: Carla decided to donate a percentage of the sales to Oxfam, a confederation of NGO’s working on the alleviation of global poverty.

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The exhibition was held in a very beautiful private space not far from the school. This is not the best choice in terms of audiences as of course this means the space itself won’t bring in a crowd. On the other hand the esthetic result has been just what Carla was looking for. In one way or the other we find ourselves almost always having to make some compromises.

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As always, and again and again, friends play a major role in setting up an exhibition. Be always sure to check their schedule, not only yours, when planning a date.

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