What is the measure within which it is acceptable to talk about jewellery?
Can we define as a jewel that ornament which is so oversized, that goes beyond “wearability”?
These are the questions that arise when we look at some creations of contemporary jewellery. Artists investigate the physical space occupied by decoration, always interconnected with the wearer’s presence, with whom it establishes and triggers silent dialogues.
In the swirling colourful papier-mâché bracelets and necklaces by Marjorie Schick, exposed in Preziosa 2006, their uncomfortable portability is due to their dimensions. Egocentric catalysts of attention, they reverse the logic that, like jewels, they should act as enhancers of the wearer’s charm, and not vice versa. Their cumbersome presence, indeed, makes them principal actors of their autonomous existence.
In the sculptures by Naom Ben-Jacov, another artist who participated in Preziosa 2006, the jewel expands to the point when it engulfs the wearer. He becomes an actor of a performance in which he experiences the physicality and the transformability of metal cages or kaleidoscopic glass shells. The dancer establishes with steel, nylon or fibreglass objects, a “dialogue of movement”, testing the infinite relation possibilities of coexistence or impediment with them. He studies the structure by flexing and stretching them, or by entering and exiting them, moving with them and around them, leading to an increasingly interdependent trust effect.
The question of the body extension in space, meant as the removal of its physical limits, has already been the subject of Rebecca Horn’s research. This German body artist is known for her prosthetics, with whom in the Seventies she experimented artificial methods of fruition of space, in an evolutionary vision of the human body.
Her research was born when, as a student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg, working with toxic materials without protections, she got very sick and was forced into a sanatorium for a year. As she said, she felt isolated and so it was urgent to restore contact with the surrounding space, which led her to conceive showy extensions of the limbs, grafted on the body and fixed by wrapping costumes, to overcome the boundaries that naturally delimit human potentialities.
The theme of the mutant body, of the aesthetic transformations, is the central issue of Cristoph Zellweger‘s research. He gives expressions to the innate human desire of self-optimisation that the world of modern surgical technology makes ever more possible. The Swiss artist, who attended Preziosa 2006, is interested in how the natural need of man to decorate and beautify the body, changes over the time, with the progress of medicine.
When a ʻlackʼ is identified, aesthetic transformation and plastic reconstruction correct and repair. For that reason, he applies the materials used in the operating room, such as medical steel, simulating prostheses employed in the surgeries to reconstruct damaged parts. He uses also expanded polystyrene, to create anatomical body fragments more frequently subjected to cosmetic surgery. The artist is interested in those that are considered remedies to the achievement of a canon of ideal beauty. Zellweger wonders how the jewel can be replaced one day, not so far, by futuristic cutaneous implants of artificial intelligence devices, and how they will become part – as already jewellery, tattoo or breast enlargement – of a new concept of aesthetics.