September 17, 2015

After Wearing: A History of Gestures, Actions, and Jewelry

Pratt Manhattan Gallery
Gabriel Craig, Pro Bono Jeweler, 2007. Courtesy of the artist.

Curated by Damian Skinner and Monica Gaspar

Roseanne Bartley / Tracey Clement / Gabriel Craig / Jessica Craig-Martin / Martí Guixé / Lauren Kalman and Kipp Bradford / Suska Mackert / Jhana Millers/ Yuka Oyama and Becky Yee / Mah Rana / Schmuck2 / Robert Smit / Joanne Wardrop

The works in the first section of After Wearing: A History of Gestures, Actions, and Jewelry demonstrate that jewelry is a powerful phenomenon in social life. Viewers are introduced to a series of artworks (moving image and photographs) that in different ways circle around what we are calling the “gestures of jewelry”—the movements, poses, attitudes and behaviors that seem to be in some way characteristic of jewelry. Often these gestures are learned behaviors, mediated by the representation of jewelry in photography, film, television and art, which is why so many of these works use found images to construct their archives or catalogues of gestures. It is also notable, and important to our argument, that these artists and makers—a number of whom are jewelers who have established practices in the contemporary jewelry field—focus on fine or conventional jewelry rather than contemporary jewelry. In part, this is an issue of scale and economics: there is much more money associated with conventional jewelry, resulting in a scene with a much greater visual culture of mediation and representation than the experimental one of contemporary jewelry.

In the second section of the exhibition, viewers are introduced to the “Scale of Relationality,” which uses graphic illustrations to articulate multilayered sets of jewelry actions within the frame of everyday experiences. The scale is broken into four different sections, with the possibilities arranged as narratives that involve transformation from one state to another: WEARING (about choosing when to wear: from never to always); ATTACHMENT (about wanting: from acquisition to disposal); OWNERSHIP (about connecting: from me/individual to us/the collective); and MAKING (about participation: from receiving to customization to co-production).

In the third section of the exhibition, visitors are introduced to various projects that exploit the relational and participatory potential of jewelry. These projects focus on the user/wearer rather than the maker, and introduce the possibility that jewelry need not be an object, but rather an opportunity for interaction—where the jewel as an outcome of craft skills and processes encounters new contexts and audiences (Gabriel Craig); where jewels of different kinds are valued in new ways as profound agents of meaning and identity (Mah Rana); where the jewel dematerializes altogether, leaving only ways of looking or behaving as a cultural producer (Schmuck2, and Yuka Oyama); or where the jewel is made by (or profoundly affected by) the wearer, a souvenir of moving through a specific landscape in a certain way (Roseanne Bartley, and Lauren Kalman and Kipp Bradford). As well as encountering past manifestations of these projects through various kinds of documentation, viewers are invited to take part in relational works and experience directly these important shifts in thinking within the contemporary jewelry field.
–Damian Skinner and Monica Gaspar


Contact: T +212 647 7778 / [email protected]


After Wearing: A History of Gestures, Actions, and Jewelry at Pratt Manhattan Gallery

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