MARCH 11 – APRIL 2, 2016
What would our country be without the enrichment of knowledge, impulses and traditions coming from abroad? Identity Transfer is an exhibition that explores the experience of relocating to a new country. It concerns artistic identity, and if and how it changes in the encounter with the new host culture. Eleven artists from different countries, all living and working in Sweden, participate in this exhibition with a personal piece of jewellery. The jewellery revolves around themes such as identification, memory and the experience of change and growth.
Thank you, world for centuries of migration and diversity!
Together with other galleries and museums, Identity Transfer is part of the 2016 Art Jewellery project initiated by Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Necklace, “Entry Wall I”, cast glass, synthetic band, silver.
I am a jewellery artist from Vilnius, Lithuania. The environment in which I grew up is deeply rooted in me. For many years, I was surrounded by slate roofs and white post-Soviet bricks, steel wool that has been lying around for years; and walked on heavy concrete slabs while touching softwood walls covered with lacquer. What all of these materials had in common was that they, at a first glance at least, appeared rather sophisticated. In reality, it was all plain and hollow.
Later in life, after spending time in several of the world’s more metropolitan cities, I wondered what my distinct memories of textures meant? I am interested in the buildings that exist within us. When I moved to Stockholm, I began to investigate the relationship between the human body and physical space, as well as how different objects (such as jewellery) can act as a mediator between them. I am particularly interested in spaces intended for relocation and transition, such as the metro, airport and other contemporary urban environments.
Both for me and many others, Stockholm is a threshold or a transitional space in itself. I am searching for a direct translation of my surroundings to bring back to the body in the form of pieces of jewellery.
Brooch, “I Never Dreamed That You’d Leave in the Summer”, oil on aluminium, silver, steel, natural sponge.
”Every paradise is probably always lost. The only eternal is the nostalgia of them.” – Octavian Paler
I lived in the same house in Romania from the time I was born until I turned 25, when I got married and moved to Sweden. I never dreamed of moving but my new husband’s family was already here and part of the plan was for us to follow.
Leaving Romania was an ordeal, and only with time and distance have I fully realized what a huge impact my upbringing had on me. In my native country, people usually live in the same house throughout their lives and my family still lives there. Aside from when we were at school, we kids would always play by our house and on the street outside.
Today I am without country and do not feel truly at home anywhere. Yet, I have two home countries. Every year I go back to Romania to visit my loved ones and walk down the street of my childhood. The first couple of years in Sweden, I used to count down the days until I got to do this trip. Now when I go back, it still does not feel the same. I do not fully recognize myself. I speak the same language and my family members are still there, but the house looks different from how it once did.
People relate differently to their pasts. Some would like to forget and others to become like me. It is all very nostalgic.
Necklace, “The Little Frog”, silver.
On a summer’s day about twenty years ago I ran outside to play, just as I always did, through the garden and down towards the grass where the holly trees grew so tall that they almost reached the sky. Even though this was a long time ago, I clearly remember a couple of small frogs seeking shelter from the sweltering sun by the pond in the far part of our garden.
One of the frogs left the safety of the damp bed of mint leaves and began to climb what, for the little creature, must have been an enormous holly tree. The frog’s painfully slow yet relentless climb on sharp leaves with those thin little legs and webbed feet really made an impression on me. From that moment on, I have always identified with the fragile creature who dared to defy the prickly thorns of the holly leaves to seek something else. The memory of that frail but fantastic little creature has given me strength and courage when faced with difficult challenges.
Today, when many of my countrymen are crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe in the hope of a brighter future, just as I once did, it is inevitable for me to think of my own mortality and that brave little frog. How I wish that everyone trying to cross the seas could turn into frogs and thus survive the dark depths of the waters and finally reach safety.
Necklace, “Up Over & Down Under”, copper, enamel, ceramics, stone.
My necklace can be seen as a journey of my life. Having lived half of my life in Australia and the other half in Sweden, my identity is marked by both countries as well as by places and cultures in between the two. The colour scheme of the necklace is Australian with rich, earthy shades of brown, yellow and orange. The necklace coils like a black snake and its long, hollow tube structures are similar to didgeridoos – the ancient Australian wind instrument consisting of wooden tubes and played by the Aborigines. The cups are from China, a culture that has existed in Australia for a long time, but which was also part of my trips to Sweden with “stop overs” there, visiting various markets and tea houses.
Stones have always been an important part of my identity. As a young newcomer to Sweden, I worked in a stone shop where the whole world’s stone collection was introduced to me and that is why the geodes are included in this necklace. In Sweden, I also learned to weave and it links everything that I do together.
Necklace, Untitled, copper, silver.
I was born and raised in Denmark with a childhood home full of Danish design classics. As I relocated to Sweden, I was distanced from the austere Danish Modernism and the style of my design slowly but steadily moved away from the characteristically Danish design language. Instead, I found myself being increasingly influenced by the somewhat softer Swedish design tradition.
My jewellery is organic and imaginative, yet a certain asceticism remains in its expression. Previously, the form of the jewellery was my creative starting point whereas now, I work more artistically and am inspired by abstract paintings and drawings. My ambition is to dissolve the boundaries between fine art and craft.
Necklace, “Memories of Healing”, spruce, horsehair.
I am half German and half Greek. I was raised in Germany and am now living in Sweden with a Greek partner. The mix of different countries and cultures in my life has been equally challenging and enriching, both on a personal and professional level. For many years, I thought I had to position myself in relation to these different cultures; I thought I had to try and understand the differences between them and bridge the divide. It was only recently that I realized that this approach has its limitations. These days, I immerse myself in the different cultures and am fascinated by what I do not understand.
My necklace defines the space occupied by the wearer and the space that remains for another person in a meeting. A crack arises here – a cavity.
Necklace, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, silver, oxidized silver, aquamarine, polyactide (PLA).
My childhood was spent in Sweden, while my school years and teens took place in southern Germany. During those years in Germany, I was surrounded by art and design styles dating as far back as 19th century Biedermeier; while remembering my Swedish heritage as something soft and with a hint of the distinct design language of the 1960’s.
When I moved back “home” to Sweden as a young adult, I felt a new sense of freedom where everything was recognizably softer, more open and even the sky bluer.
In the years that have passed since then, I have sought out my own path and connected with the beauty and richness of detail in nature. I find the contrasts of the seasonal shifts in Swedish nature both alluring and inspirational.
I have the feeling of being Swedish when in Germany and vice versa when in Sweden. I guess I am both, with “aerial roots” and the ability of feeling at home in different places.
Necklace, “Monstrance”, annealed iron wire, brass, plastic.
I am a goldsmith, just like my parents and grandparents were. I come from a small town in southern Germany which, like many other towns in the area, is Catholic. I grew up surrounded by large medieval churches with ornaments and stone figures everywhere. Inside the church there was gold, silver and precious stones showing the significance of God, faith and the church itself. To this day, the church is a place for precious metals, jewellery and valuable artefacts and the Catholic Church keeps the goldsmiths of the city busy.
There is usually a monstrance on the altar – a liturgical object in the form of a cross with an ornament that looks like the sun. In the middle of this cross is a box with a glass lid, through which you can see the wafers that form part of the ceremony of communion. The word “monstrance” derives from the Latin word “monstrare” meaning “to show”. To show God’s work in images, sculptures and objects is fundamental in Catholic tradition. In a similar way, “showing” is crucial to an artist.
Even though it is now over ten years ago since I moved to Sweden, I am still consumed by the relationship with my origin. I re-examine the relationship with my home country and Sweden on a daily basis. I want clarity in who and where I am in life. In Germany, I started working with iron wire as commentary upon classic silversmithing. I mostly created technical objects such as fire extinguishers, coffee makers and cameras. Then I began making jugs, bowls and candelabra where even the candles were in iron wire to resolutely deny all function to the objects.
In connection with one of my first exhibitions in Sweden, I heard about “Hobo Craft”. I had never heard of it before and was amazed that there was an old tradition in Sweden of using iron wire. This was also the first time where I felt that there was a link between my original training as a goldsmith and silversmith, and my actual work. The link between my German heritage and Sweden was equally obvious to me. Working as an artist is an incredible opportunity to explore and express myself. Though I am not a devout Catholic, I have created a cross in the form of a monstrance. In the middle of the cross is a small brass box with plastic jewels from my daughter’s toy collection.
Necklace, “Half Bullet Locket”, silver, cotton, silk.
“Jewellery is particularly well-suited to signify something that remains hidden from others. Only the initiated recognize the biographical and personal significance of a piece of jewellery. Hence, jewellery is well-suited to be used as a sort of secret language.”
– Tilmann Habermas.
Just as clothes, wearing jewellery is more than decorative. It is a conscious choice which communicates basic human needs and helps us to express who we are. It also constructs and fulfils our identities. The necklace “Half Bullet Locket” refers to the feeling of emptiness that occurs at the time of a separation. It is a feeling generated by the loss of familiar cultural or geographical references. Nevertheless, there will be new experiences. That void gives room for new valuable experiences, such as memories, information and codes of conduct that together add up to an identity.
The two cavities in the form of half bullets represent an impact on the chest, as well as a call for information. These bullets symbolize the opposite states of emptiness and reception. During the course of the journey of life, the cavities will fill with different influences; because people are in constant development and exchange with others as well as with the ever-changing cultures of the world.
Necklace, “A Language For a Refugee of Language”, silver, porcelain, biscuit porcelain.
Moving to Sweden was completely undramatic for me, everything only got easier. The driving force behind moving from Finland to Sweden was the opportunity to study what I am passionate about in my mother tongue.
Finland and Sweden have both similarities and differences. Its cultures are precisely as similar or different as the context requires; and you might speak of the two in terms of “on the one hand, while on the other hand…” or “so similar and yet so different…”.
In spite of this, I felt much more at home in Gothenburg than in Finland and am truly grateful for my studies in Jewellery Design and Craft which was the reason for moving. It enabled new meetings, opportunities and a general sense of curiosity.
Art jewellery is also a kind of language – it is a language for a language refugee like me. I have always been fascinated with different materials and porcelain in particular. Porcelain has become a bit of a trademark for me and ever since my studies I have explored it freely and developed new kinds of porcelain shapes.
Brooch, “Oh!”, silver, copper, enamel, painted aluminium.
Are you Swedish now?
At a dinner, I get asked the question of how long I have lived in Sweden.
– Thirty years, I reply.
– Oh! That long – then you are Swedish now!
– No, I don’t suppose I am.
– What are you then?!
I took a while before responding
– I am myself, I guess.