CULT

Current Obsession and Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch present exhibition CULT

Man’s resolve to show allegiance to powerful doctrines, to obscure social collectives, or to anything in between, gives jewellery its ultimate seductive power: the ability to speak about personal belonging in a way no other object can.

 

To wear jewellery is a private gesture. But publicly, it can subtly declare following, express devotion and act as a vehicle for protection, protest, even fantasy. To wear jewellery is a universally shared will.

 

Jewellery is cult.

IDENTIFICATION

CULT deals with the elusive ways jewellery relates to, and is reflective of, culture and identity. It may act as a highly personal manifestation of style and individuality, it also can be indicative of subcultural groupings, real or imagined. At times it’s even a vehicle for protection, or protest.

 

HELENA LEHTINEN (FI b.1952) Family, 2016 series of pendants and brooches, silver, gold, brass, textile, metal Lehtinen has an affinity for everyday forms, those practical, imperceptible, com-mon; the kind you don’t pay any attention to. Over time, the one most interesting to her became the square with rounded corners, a shape we all know well thanks to mobile phones and credit cards. Using different materials, she started to recreate and change this form again and again, adding more and more individual details as she went along. She finally realized that she was creating families. As with any family, there is as much in common as there are differences from one member to the next. The artist has recently created a new family using various textures and elements. Each piece is as ambiguous as the last, and ready for new, individual meaning to be placed onto it by whomever it may end up with. Though maybe separated one day, they’ll still speak the same vernacular and remain connected to their origins. They’ll be able to find each other again.
VOLKER ATROPS (DE b.1965) Around Me-Around You, 2016 brooches, plastic, paper, acryl, steel With this work, Atrops takes a look back to the time where he started to make jewellery as a teen. He and his friends used badges and buttons to define their preferences, and they did it very seriously. He says, ‘to wear a snobby 'PIL' button was totally different to an in-crowd 'CRASS' or... even the idiot pigeon of the peace movement.’ It’s also time-travel to his academy years in Munich where the brooch’s function was in reference to fine art, a format or tableau for creating pictures similar to canvas/wall paintings of famous artists. These are only his references, Atrops is doing neither. His pieces are not mass produced (fan/pop buttons), nor made with a skilful, or artistic style (jewellery auteurs). It’s something in between, using low d.i.y. templates: jam, squeeze, lock, grip, bind. He rips things out of local newspapers to get something to wear out of daily, direct surroundings. Some treasures, seeds, blossoms, colours, wonders he finds in the common. Instead of idolizing stars, or making signs of support to peace, punk, or parties, it is about the cooperative identity being created: ‘soft culture, sympathetic bling, hard to define.’

For CULT, eight overlapping categories have been defined to help navigate the means through which this happens: identification, participation, non-conformation and fetish, persuasion, conformation, ritual and fantasy. How does wearing jewellery strengthen human relationships, or harness new kinds of social collectiveness? Is it subcultural, ideological, or both? Either way, the true allure of jewellery is cult.

PARTICIPATION
TAKASHI KOJIMA (JP b.1978) Before becoming a jewellery artist, Kojima had graduated and worked as an architect. These pieces do not hide this fact, as all of his works include a reflection of that training. The fact that the artist is Japanese, and very much influenced by manga culture (Japanese comics and cartooning), doesn’t remain hidden either. The Point_Obj_ series is inspired by Japanese anime. These objects resemble ‘transformers’, science fiction combat cyborgs, and other related characters from the expansive manga and anime world.
Here, geometrical forms and shapes become multipurpose jewellery objects that can be worn as pendants, rings or brooches. The decision to use silver and semi-precious stones in these works shows Kojima’s enthusiasm toward this vibrant, participatory phenomenon – celebrated and special in his home country, subcultural and treasured everywhere else. It’s his way of both showing respect and contributing to it at the same time.
GÖRAN KLING (SE b.1978) Untitled, 2016 rings and medallions, silver, gold-plated silver, synthetic sapphire, cubic zirconia, plastic rotating displays, plastic jewellery boxesGöran Kling’s jewellery is like slang. A lexicon of pop-culture staples has been warped into shiny, impudent, one-offs ready for the taking. They misleadingly yet purposely resemble mass-produced jewels, fakes, bad replicas of expensive cham-pionship rings, since Kling appreciates jewellery for all the unsophisticated ways it makes our lives just a little more glamo-rous. Creating new value by mimicking established value is not a new idea in jewellery; the success of the work depends on it being so easily and universally un-derstood. It's meme-like. Here the fine line between what’s really shallow or super-ficial and what is so deeply connected to human experience is put into play. In a way, Kling’s medallions and rings are one-of-a-kind knock-offs, perfectly relevant to the label-free individuality and untroubled self-expression of today. It’s slang jewellery, made for a type of in-between culture that belongs to both no one and to everyone at once.
PABLO PICASSO Tréfle, designed 1956, executed 1967 brooch, 23k gold Petit Faune, designed 1956, executed 1967 brooch, 23k gold Visage en carton nodule, designed 1956, executed 1967 brooch, 23k gold
ANISH KAPOOR Water Rings, 2003 rings, gold, enamel
Top left: ROBERT INDIANA Love Ring, 1967 ring, gold; Bottom left: KEITH HARING Untitled, 1985 brooches, enamelled brass; Top right: Produced by company ROCKREATIONS TH MUSIDOR N.V. Licks Rolling Stones, 1972 patch and pin, aluminium, brooch; Bottom right: CHRISTIAN DIOR Untitled, 1952 brooch, imitation gemstones, metal

To best demonstrate this, Current Obsession has invited twelve of the most forward thinking international jewellery artists, some of which are presenting not yet seen work: Alexander Blank, Shachar Cohen, Elvira Golombosi, Adam Grinovich, Nils Hint, Göran Kling, Takashi Kojima, Helena Lehtinen, Florian Weichsberger, Mallory Weston, Areta Wilkinson and Rei Yamada. A special piece from the Noordermarkt legend Happy Day is also present.

NON-CONFORMIST
CIRO GREGOR DUCLOS Happily Ever After, 2014 ring, gold, MDMA, crystal
NILS HINT (EE b.1986) Manful I and II, 2015 brooches, forged iron Slashers, 2016 series of brooches, forged iron. More blacksmith than jeweller, Hint uses iron and forging techniques as a means to draw flat or three-dimensional objects, some sweetly vulgar. Purposefully phallic or cross-like, they were created to imply a childish or primitive kind of graffiti, like dicks or hearts drawn on the bathroom wall. His newest brooches are ready-made objects that have only been cut or sliced; nothing extra has been added, which calls on the same compulsiveness of using just what you’ve got - whatever that is, sticker, Sharpie or nail - to make a quick statement. ‘Play THIS! This is good BEAT! Don ́t think too much, don ́t give a crap...... you know very well what ́s the main thing. Pull yourself together and be honest with yourself. Just do it, important things come first. Proper beat does not need a warm up. Just beat some sense into yourself and beat their fucking swords into the plowshares.’ On the background: BERNARD SCHOBINGER Flaschenhalskette, 1988 necklace, glass, wire
FLORIAN WEICHSBERGER(DE b.1982) Warrior, 2016 series of necklaces and a ring, steel, cotton, brass Technical and aggressive looking, these new works by Weichsberger are inspired by tools and knives, yet are modern and aestheticized. If you try to use them, it’s not clear how, because there isn’t any function. They are in fact, useless. The pieces are about the space between people; aggression, tension, offensive or defensive behaviour, the things that go unspoken. In densely populated places where space is limited, or in private or work related situa-tions or structures, this is amplified.The pieces can be seen as shields - menaces that define the personal space around you and help you defend or protect it. Yet there is another aspect: by wearing them, you could also hurt yourself, or even break the piece. Some pieces have blades inside that rub against the string used to keep it around your neck. It’s like building a wall around you: instead of helping you, it impedes you. Weichsberger is interested in this point of vulnerability that’s there even when you think you’re fully armed, like Achilles and his heel.

Together with this selection, five additional artists have been commissioned to create new work especially for CULT, including artist duo Conversation Piece, iconoclast Volker Atrops, painter Kelsey Isaacs, and jeweller Edgar Mosa, who created his works on the museum floor during the performance at the opening on the 14th of October.

FETISH / scenographic element designed by Stefan Auberg
EDGAR MOSA (PT/US b.1986) Here you find the aftermath of a three-hour performance by Edgar Mosa. The artist built these pieces progressively and simultaneously on live models, sculpting patterns on their bodies. Working from the neck out, he at first evoked the idea of a simple necklace, then took over the entire body. Each has a different look, dictated by the chosen material. With rope, Mosa explores traditional bondage, capping the extremities with metal tubes, becoming giant shoelaces. With chain, he drapes the body, making connections based on chakra points to create a one-piece chainmail. With wire, he frames the neck and arms expanding their boundaries. With crystals, he adorns the body in unusual places, leaving gemstones to be found. The pieces are presented in transparent garments that evoke clothing, but act instead as the body’s vitrine. Mosa envisions the performance as an extension of his private studio in New York where he always has people coming and going, ‘sketching’ pieces directly on their bodies.This ritual is more than the production of a piece of jewellery; it explores a process that allows intimate interaction.
Edgar Mosa's Performance during the opening night.
LOUISE BORGEOUS Untitled, 2002 choker, silver, crystal The piece evokes shackles, chains and clamps and refers to the violence inflicted on prisoners during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), which Bourgeois witnessed at first hand. The necklace was produced in an edition of 39 towards the end of the 1990s in collaboration with fashion designer Helmut Lang.
MALLORY WESTON (US b.1986) Pink Carnation Bolos (Gothic, Obelisk, Norman), 2016 necklaces/bolo ties, powder coated brass, silver, leather Weston is interested in the life of symbols; their histories, contradicting meanings, and the fact that many have become meaningless or cliché. Symbols are a tool to connect with her viewer, as they’re effective in forming an immediate bond with the ob-ject. Seduction through material use is also an important element. In Smiley Gag that seduction is broached through sexuality as well, humorously pitting the classic smiley face against a distinctively fetish object. The Pink Carnation Bolo Ties depict classic American headstone silhouettes parsed down to their barest form. They’re rendered sleek white focal pieces, pure, sterile and sublime in their appearance. Pairing sombre recognizable forms with the iconic American Western necktie design (usually bejewelled in turquoise), they convey an eerie absence. The action involved in wearing these pieces reinforces their slightly sinister nature. The user must cinch the thick braided leather and pull the tombstone closer around the throat, mimicking the action of a hangman’s noose.
REI YAMADA (JP b.1983)*Dignity, 201 4necklaces, ironYamada is not charmed by CAD, or brand new technologies. Instead, he’s devo-ted to those born from more restricted environments, comprised of foundational techniques. He feels that today, every-thing is too easy, that it’s no longer OK to make something excessive or wasteful. But this is where Yamada finds potential. In combination with old techniques, he turns certain waste into something new, something attractive, by responding to its nature. Like using leftover iron for its stubbornness, taking advantage of its rust. These pieces, first shown in 2014, did not show the signs of age that they do now. Yamada forges a new skin that he then lets mature on its own. The pieces ripen with time, adding to their vintage appeal, their steampunk affinity. As the maker, Yamada says that not everyone is up to this challenge of transformation; to wear them, is perhaps an even bigger dare.
FANTASY
HAPPY DAY (MA/NL b.1954-2008) Laat ons Samen Leven, 2004 pendant, silver, ruby Saâd Karrakchou - the Moroccan free spirit better known as Happy Day – was a makeshift jeweller of sorts, one who didn’t separate work from life. He revolved around the vivid Noordermarkt in the Jordaan dis-trict of Amsterdam, where he would create and sell his jewellery made from shells, skeletons, cutlery, coins, souvenirs, antique glass, anything. His impromptu solutions and unrestrained expression characterized his pieces, most of which by now have long disappeared into the many hands of friends and strangers at the flea market. The piece on display is part of bigger story. The silver medallion in the form of Fatima’s hand has a cut out star and a han-ging cross that holds a ruby. It is signed, Happy Day2008, and was the last piece of jewellery he would ever make. At his bedside, friend and fellow vendor Alkelei was shown this piece, with a statement: ‘Vermenigvuldig het, hier heb ik voor geleefd’ (this is what I have lived for). The former Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, visited soon after, a testament to his status as a vital community member. He died two days later. Following his last wish, a mould was to be made of the medallion so that it could be reproduced and shared with as many people as possible.
ELVIRA GOLOMBOSI(UA/DE b.1989) Guardians, 2014 Golombosi’s method of work is a conscious exploration of the unconscious. She enters into a trance-like state to allow intense, personal symbols and obscure imaginary to emerge. Rational processes are excluded as much as possible. The rules of conti-nuity dissolve into the activity itself. She discovers an extended image of reality, a reality which exceeds intellectual under-standing. The artist uses herself as a subject of study but believes it can go beyond her singularity as an individual. Through this research, she aims to come into contact with archetypes that are common to all of us, not only as a part of mankind but as a living being in general. In this series, objects are depicted symbols of Golombosi’s personal my-thology. They are her unique versions of gods, totemic figures, demons and fantastic creatures. She follows the ancient belief in objects endowed with magical powers, creating rings as amulets, or companions that support the wearer.

One of CULT’s main particularities is the emphasis on the jewel’s role as a catalyst of a wearer’s identity. The physical body however, is absent. In its place, Current Obsession has asked six fiction writers and artists to create narratives meant to allude to the potentially infinite human scenarios jewellery may become involved in. Their stories are crafted around certain themes or selected pieces found in the exhibition. Audio excerpts of these texts are present in the show, and full versions will be printed in the special Current Obsession issue to come. Authors: Maurits de Bruijn, Hou Chien Cheng, Frank Koolen, Case Miller & Joris Lindhout, Huib Haye van der Werf.

ARENA designed by Stefan Auberg is a space to sit down and oversee the whole exhibition. It also showcases the audio excerpts of short fictional stories commissioned to artists-writers.
RITUAL On the foreground: ALEXANDER BLANK (DE b.1975) Backflips & Summersaults, 2016 pendants and brooches, jet, string, high-density foam, silver, paint. The series is divided into two parts of twelve pieces each, though not all of them are here. Smooth, black pendants, downcast in nature, counter eggshell coloured brooches of the shame shape. Almost white, they now appear virgin, pure.
Each set has something hidden from direct glance on the backside: a non-symmetrical cut, or a colourful stain, directly at the contact point of wearer and jewel. Bruises or heat signatures come to mind. As in both parts of the series, these details provide something personal, emotional, haptic – concealed to the wearer as a reminder or a memory, shy and quiet. Backflips & Summersaults plays with the ups and downs, the forward and backward of life. The pieces give us a frame through which to look more closely at stand-still, singular moments. They remind us of emotional rollercoasters. Melancholia casts its shadow over the pieces, but they somehow leave us in a state of optimism.
KELSEY ISAACS (US b.1994)* 7, 2015necklace, string, silver, fluorite, lapis lazuli, black tourmaline, red coral, opal, tiger’s eye, glass, citrine, red coral, labradorite, rose quartzVibrates at the frequency of protection and growth. This necklace has housed a rapidly changing collection of crystals that Isaacs acquired while living in Rome for six months in 2014. Components neutralize and purify negative thoughts, sharpen psychic perception and protect against the evil eye.46.1 11 , 201 6necklace, silver, safety pin, bismuth, azurite, meteorite, opalActivates ether and is built to facilitate connection with a high energetic frequency. It helps her align with intuitive higher consci-ousness, the silver activating celestial energy.46.2 5, 2016necklace, string, rubber bands, safety pin, silver, angelite, coral, found rock, quartz cluster, moonstone, aquamarine, lapis lazuli, found cluster, moldavite, black tourmaline, celestite cluster Works to aid in connection with the earth plane. This past September these stones were brought to charge at Mt. Shasta, the root chakra of the earth. The necklace is assembled like a garden, it’s designed to be fluid. It evolves over time; if stones fall out at a certain phase, it’s because they are meant to transition into new hands.Crystals have a powerful vibratory frequen-cy. Kelsey Isaacs, a painter and healer, col-lects them, comes into psychic relationship with them, and senses them as individuals. Each of her necklaces are assembled like mandalas, or energetic circuit boards. The energy shifts depending on the order of the stones and the form of the setting. Certain stones just want to be next to others. Some want to be set a certain way; their unique vibrations determine how. Isaacs is not a trained jeweller, yet makes these pieces based on an urge to regulate the energy around her. Her methods - at times immediate, using rubber bands and safety pins – is reflective of her need to wear them, to have them on her body. On display are three sets of necklaces that reflect the stages of her personal spiritual practice and devo-tion to the stones.
ARETA WILKINSON (NZ b.1969) Wilkinson investigates the intersection of contemporary jewellery as a form of know-ledge and practice with Maori philosophies and perspectives. Her framework is unique to Aotearoa New Zealand, and negotiates the boundary between contemporary jewellery and taonga tuku iho, treasures handed down from the ancestors. Wilkinson focuses on the potential of pepeha - custo-mary forms of Maori oral expression that speak of personal connections to places, people and events that locate identity to specific landscapes. The first grouping, Kahore ahau e whakatipu, na nga pungarehu (I don't come from the ashes, I am real, I do the things that others talk about), pays direct homage to customary forms of Maori adornment with multiple repetitive units. The second group responds to shadows taken from historic Maori adornment from Te Waipounamu, the South Island, that now reside in museum collections. In a sense, the shadows are repatriated and returned to Te Ao Marama, the world of the light. All Wilkinson’s work carries specific sto-ries, histories and places forward, into the contemporary realm, making a statement of continuity between past and present.
CONFORMIST

To further punctuate the exhibition’s theme, Current Obsession has also gone through the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch’s collection and selected a vast array of both contemporary and historical works from jewellers and fine artists alike.

Left: RUUDT PETERS Ossa, 2011 necklace, anodised aluminium,anodised leather. One of the most worn jewellery pieces was (and maybe still is) the crucifix. By ‘invalidating’ the century-old symbol of the crucified Christ, Peters gives it a new power to express. Right: MAN RAY Hommage / La Croix, 1973 necklace, gold.
KATJA PRINS Bound by Blood, 2007 necklace, wood, pigment. Prayer beads are used in all kinds of religions: the rosary, the tesbih, juzu and the mala... A chain of prayer beads is in fact neither a necklace nor a piece of jewellery. By placing all the different prayer chains together - only really differing in detail - so that they mingle and mix, a contemporary blood-red jewel arises. This necklace points out the communal bond between them, but also to the common bloodshed committed in the name of religion of all kinds. Courtesy of chp...? Jewellery / private collection.
ADAM GRINOVICH (US/SE b.1981) A diamond is a symbol recognizable and understandable anywhere in the western world. To bear something of value on the body, is jewellery defined to one sentence. As a culture we can get into discussions about value, or have a conversation about what jewellery means to an individual. So much is soaked in nostalgia: an heirloom engagement ring, a mother’s locket. There is also so much wild, ignorant jewellery that is devoid of any sentiment: the stuff of red carpets and music videos. And there is everything in between. Grinovich makes jewellery because it is intimate and vulgar and fascinating all at the same time. Because you can compress frenzy into something that can fit into the palm of your hand. Because there’s a specific distance of holding out one’s arm, enough for truly seeing an object for all that it’s worth. Because there is never not going to be jewellery. It was the first thing we did as human beings, and yet we still feel the need to make it new over and over again.
SHACHAR COHEN (IL/DE b.1981) Reflective Idols, 2016 pendants, stainless steel Cohen’s works provoke a figurative interpretation of their own abstract forms: anthropomorphic structures can be vaguely discerned, like a head and shoulders, or a waist. The use of a single material, stainless steel, coupled with simple contours recalls archaic idols, fertility symbols or canopic jars. This in part to their ornamental indifference eliminates traces of process and blemishes of time. The brightly polished surfaces mirror their surroundings. Beholders of the works are instantly attracted, and they become objects of desire.
A juxtaposition between the spiritual idols of the past and the shallow idols of today takes place. By disturbing the reflection of the viewer as they attempt to look at themselves, Cohen refers to a self-absorbing society where individual need for transcendence is pushed to the background and the selfie phenomenon remains omnipresent.
PERSUASION
Left: LISA WALKER Low Culture Necklace, 2010 necklace, gossip magazines, glass, rope. In a playful way Walker explores the diffe-rences and similarities of what is seen as pretty or ugly. She deliberately crosses the borders between high and low culture, and craftsmanship and amateurism. Right: OTTO KÜNZLI OH, SAY!, 1992 T-shirt, silkscreen print, cotton
OTTO KÜNZLI USA 500, 1992 postage stamp, offset print on paper.
CONVERSATION PIECE (BEATRICE BROVIA, IT/SE b.1985; NICOLAS CHENG, CN/SE b.1982) Gold Rush, 2016 necklace, gold, e-waste metal, quartz crystal, silk Gold Rush, 2016 pendant, gold, silver, quartz crystal, reflective thread, electrical soldering Gold Rush, 2016 brooch, gold, e-waste metal, mylar, kapton, resin. Gold is a controversial material. Today, it’s largely used on the ground of its physical properties - electrical conductivity, resistan-ce to corrosion and radiations, ductility, etc - for the functioning of consumer electronics, digital media, telecommunica-tions, and even as shield foil in space ex-plorations. It is one among a group of rare minerals on which our daily interactions, entertainment needs, communications and access to information rely. Think of the mobile phones we carry in our pockets, computers, videogames, and television screens. Gold is diluted into all of these devices. It’s at the base of their secret functioning. Using a domestic form of mining, Conversation Piece has processed impure gold from e-waste by extracting it from discarded electronics and other sources (like space-shuttle debris for its gold-plated mylar). By using this mined gold in the creation of new jewellery pieces, the duo looks closely at the relationship be-tween jewellery and electronics, and tests the boundary between adornment and the cult for technology.

Current Obsession and the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch are proud to invite you to become a part of this experience.

 

CULT is initiated by Current Obsession Magazine & Platform in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch, museum of contemporary art and design. Made possible by the generous support of

 

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CULT is curated by:

Current Obsession – Marina Elenskaya and Kellie Riggs

Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch – Fredric Baas

Produced by: Current Obsession – Sarah Mesritz

Exhibition graphic design by: Linda Beumer

Scenographic elements by: Stefan Auberg

 

Campaign Credits
Photography: Lonneke van der Palen
Styling: Pascal-Joël Weber represented by Angelique Hoorn Management
Hair and Make up artist: Erika Nuijten represented by Angelique Hoorn Management

Model: Roos Ferrero wearing jewellery by Göran Kling /// Sascha represented by FIC Model Management wearing jewellery by Adam Grinovich

 

Exhibition images: Marina Elenskaya

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