Report of Lectures Day 3

The third day of the symposium begins with a joint artist presentation by Claudia Betancourt and Ricardo Pulgar. With such different backgrounds, it is clear to see this co-operation has yielded outstanding results. The most significant aspect appears to be their involvement in the ‘South Project’, to link art projects in the southern hemisphere to Australia. A migration from Chile to Melbourne resulted in a residency working with children making their own contemporary jewellery and ‘Cradle to Cradle’, the sprinkling of fertiliser on grass in the shape of a ring. Pedestrians were then free take a handful of the white powder home to fertilise their garden. This socially engaged practice is an example to the world of contemporary jewellery that a gallery is not necessarily the best place where work can be exhibited. Referring to the theme of communication across boundaries, Pulgar finishes by stating that for them, the ‘migration was also a transformation’.

Dr. Sarah O’Hana of Manchester University, England begins by proclaiming that she will always ‘use what is unexpected’ in her practice. The use of laser technology in her latest work is the central example of this philosophy. Having obtained her doctorate from the Department of Aerospace and Civil Engineering, it is clear to see the scientific nature of her work. Pendants of titanium identification cards, medals with laser marked symbols of her life experience and a bangle with microscopic images of cells all point towards the bridging of cultures between art and science. Having co-organised the Ars Ornata Europeana 2007 exhibition amongst others in Manchester, O’Hana offers a perspective and experience that many Latin American delegates will find valuable for future opportunities.

Felieke Van De Lest is a graduate of the Rietvald Academy with an impressive showcase of crocheted pieces ranging from small but well thought out brooches to ‘Ryan the Lion’ whose arrogance achieved a front page appearance in national press. She then transferred her skills to the use of fibre optics, making a chandelier inspired by an image of a water flea. Felieke also has a successful collaboration to exhibit in Mexico in a local sweet shop- the ‘Dulceria’ just off Avenida 5 de Mayo.

Next, Nuria Carulla, of the eponymous academy, treats us to a wealth of Colombian contemporary jewellery by students. She introduces her presentation by emphasising the job creating values of the jewellery industry, from teachers to miners. The works by her students appear of international quality with a huge variety techniques and results achieved. This includes use of CAD/CAM, with inspiration ranging from flowers to baroque architecture. The impression given is one of high aiming seriousness, a testament that Colombia stands proud of its ability to cultivate world class artists. One outstanding piece, ‘Ecce Homo’ is pendant consisting of a traditional portrait of Christ and a separately cast machine gun in dark metal, offering a mature and deep exploration of the religious aspects of Nicolas Estada’s culture.

Nanna Melland’s ‘11,687 years’ is a mysterious title for a necklace that looks significantly like a random collection of scrap metal. For only a few viewers have immediately identified the sole material used- discarded intraurethral devices; the sum of the ages of the original owners is what constitutes the title. A visit to Tibet, she tells us, brought her attention to notions of wearability in ritual and of the almost magical skills of the most basic Tibetan jewellery workshops. During this time she produced a Memento Mori in the form of a bracelet, hanging off it, a real animal heart. This reflects one of the many lessons she has learnt and shares with a Latin American audience today- you will enjoy life more in the remembrance of mortality. Further work leading up to ‘11,687 years’ includes a ‘seductively beautiful’ orchid cast in lead and a necklace of fingernails in gold accompanying a statement that gold is many things including ‘madness’. That the contraceptive IUD was a random find, it is interesting to note how an artist manages to turn obscurity into an almost sacred relevance for humankind today. Let us hope that this profound understanding perpetuates into the world of Latin American jewellery.

Ximena Briceno of Peru gives us detailed history on the filigree technique. It’s many origins leads her to compare techniques and styles from China, India, Italy, Ancient Mesopotamia and of course Latin America. The pieces shown have a range of uses, incense burners, religious icons, decorative models and often serving as gifts for aristocrats. Her personal practice includes a pair of silver filigree slippers, offering a relevance for today’s artists.Filigree’s appearance is often predictable, but one Victorian piece has an striking resemblance to sculptor Anish Kapoors latest work, the London 2012 Olympics Design, the ‘ArcelorMittal Orbit’
Miguel Luciano, a visual artist born in Puerto Rico and working in the US, carries out his presentation with bright-eyed enthusiasm that is apparent in his work. His earlier pieces have engaged the viewer in the ‘La Mano Poderosa Racetrack’ and ‘Pimp My Paragua’, taking stagnant social function and renewing its concept, aesthetics and relevance. ‘Pure Plantainum’, is title which speaks for itself and refers to the plantain as a symbol of Puerto Rican Identity. ‘Platano Pride’, a photo of a Puerto Rican boy wearing the piece was used as the main image for a recent exhibition in Paris. This, Luciano tells us is a source of personal pride for him seeing how far the image travelled, as it contains concerns themes of identity, race, culture and PR culture. Luciano’s Piece will go on display in the Palacio Bellas Artes in Autumn 2010 as part of an exhibition of Latin American Art- 1910 to 2010.

The third day ended with a joint presentation by Fran Kweitel from Argentina and Estela Saez Vilanova from Catalunya, but living in the Netherlands. A large portion of time was devoted to describing the many contrasts between the two countries; however both artists appear to have flourished from the partnership. An exhibition in the Red Light District demonstrates this and gallery work with Ruudt Peters cements the quality and profile of the undertaking. The couple seem to have bonded extremely well and the results obtained from their co-operation set a benchmark for future transatlantic collaborations. Kweitel and Saez Vilanova end by thanking the Grey Area Organisers for enabling them to put their work out to a wider audience.

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