The first edition of MJW has to be considered expression of that “spring of jewellery” which is reawakening in the Italian scene an increasingly widespread interest in the field of body ornamentation.
Many events organized between 24th and 27th October, including exhibitions, lectures, workshops, conferences, contests, performances, drew several itineraries between the areas of Porta Venezia, Centro, Brera, Tortona, Garibaldi, Cinque Giornate. Contemporary art galleries, fashion boutiques, high jewellery ateliers, jewellery schools and academies, goldsmith labs, offered to the 40.000 visitors who took part in it a wide overview of the universe of jewellery.
Therefore, for the first day of the event I was in Milan to spend a very busy day there.
My first stop was the collective exhibition Artistar Jewels 2019 Fall Edition, hosted in the magnificent rooms of Palazzo Bovara, which brought together 150 artists from all over the world, for more than 500 creations made by contemporary jewellery artists and designers.
Next to this choral exhibition there was another collective, In Flux, presented at Munich Jewelry Week 2019, with pieces by Edwin Charmain, Elisavet Messi, Lingjun Sun, and a Kathy Kraus there in the room to spread the word about her work and that of the colleagues.
In a separate space there was BELONGING/S, a project that combined the photography of jewellery with the pieces by the authors showed inside open suitcases, as if to display the experience that each collection brought along.
In the wide exhibition, one could read the narration of the 20th century jewellery. The references to the tendencies that made the history of ornament were strong: from the kinetic mechanisms of the Florentine Cecilia Milazzo’s optical jewels to the surrealist notes in the glass taxidermy eyes of the Italian Angelica Centonze’s pieces. Tributes were not lacking: Bauhaus design built the rings by the Swiss Eleonora Castagnetta Botta; whereas the floral dances of the famous Loie Fuller were given back by pure white cotton in the Spanish May Gañán’s necklace. Pendants by the American Margery Hirschey recalled the playful balancing of Calder’s jewels and rings by the Saudi Saddah questioned the value of the emotional preciousness of materials.
Reflections on current events were central in the work of the German Henrike Altes, whose brooches depicting sad or shouting monkeys, gave vent to our daily emotions repressed by a frantically productive society that requires us to be ever more performant. The Italian Fabiana Fusco invites us to “wear” the desperation of others, referring to the burning issue of immigration; while the uncomfortable necklaces by the Chinese Xiaouhi Yang opened new visions on the self-portraying properties offered by the selfie logic.
Overall, the exhibition was a survey into the infinite possibilities of materials, and showed the aim to question the jewellery meanings.
Not far away, in the Casa del Pane of Porta Venezia, was hosted the monographic of the Italian Gianni de Benedittis, former student of Le Arti Orafe, founder of the brand futuroRemoto and special guest of the MJW. On show the Spring Summer 2020 collections Carnivorous and Bacterium (that one already presented at the latest edition of Milano Moda Donna).
The first collection was dedicated to the fascinating world of carnivorous plants and exhibited several species of those inspiring organisms right next to the precious jewels. In another room, jewels in the spherical cellular shape of bacteria, were immersed in showcases filled with water. Ideonella Sakaiensis 201 – F6 is a recently discovered bacterium that feeds on plastic, showing nature’s extraordinary ability to adapt to contexts modified by human intervention. The contact with water led to the creation of small air bubbles that clung to metal, sometimes breaking off and traveling quickly towards the surface. The bubbles appeared as small silver grains that formed precious encrustations.
Just behind Piazza Duomo there’s the Babs Gallery, a young exhibition space that revamp the historic but successful trend of artist jewelry, exposing translations in metal of works of painters, sculptors, architects and designers who have ventured with enthusiasm into jewelry design. Jewels by Ugo Nespolo, Antonio Paradiso, Alex Pinna, Jessica Carrol, Chiara Dynys, Riccardo Gusmaroli, Orna Ben-Ami, and others, were shown as artworks to wear, alongside other forms of artistic expression, overcoming the differences of value, raising each form of art in its full dignity and autonomy.
In Brera, the Londoner Didier Ltd collection was hosted in the Consadori Gallery. There were Didier and Martine Haspeslagh in person to welcome the visitors and to present famous pieces by Italian artists who made the history of 20th century Italian sculpture and painting, and more. Figures such as the brothers Arnaldo and Gio’ Pomodoro or Edgardo Mannucci, masters of metalworking, have played a leading role in the evolution of jewelry research since the 1950s. In those years the farsighted figure of the Roman jeweler Mario Masenza took the opportunity to involve artists in the development of new linguistic stimuli. He brought together personalities such as Afro Basaldella, Lorenzo Guerrini, Giuseppe Uncini, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Nino Franchina, Gino Severini, who, in various ways, have engaged in the design or in the creation of jewellery.
The day ended with the opening of the Swiss Fabrice Schaefer’s exhibition, displayed in the Irene Belfi Gallery. I was amazed by the mastery with which the artist treated titanium, first dug with a burin and then subjected to the heat of the flame, to extract the iridescent colors of the metal. Other times Schaefer sets diamonds, but more often the result of the work is entrusted to the studied chemical reactions induced by the flame.
Mine is only a brief account, but MJW is a truly precious opportunity that gives new importance to the achievements of research on body adornment.
The next big event dedicated to contemporary jewellery in Italy is the Florence Jewellery Week 2020 (28th May – 4th June 2020), organized and managed by LAO. For that occasion Florence will host internationally renowned artists and will offer a rich calendar of conferences, lectures, workshops and collateral events…
…So, stay up-to-date on preziosa.org.