The 3rd International Biennial of Contemporary Metal Art
METALLOphone: PERSONALLY (2014)
Metal comes into being through all four basic elements – fire, water, air and earth. Therefore it cannot but inspire thoughts of something archaic. Something primordial. Something essential which comes into being here and now. A person, who wields metal, i. e. blacksmith, is assigned nearly demiurgic qualities in the Baltic mythology – he possesses capacity to forge human being anew or to restore one’s youth. The mastering of the blacksmith’s craft and knowledge resembles initiation, a “second birth”. All what is related to metal is far from simple. Neither in the simplest physical and technical, nor in mythical, historical, and aesthetical aspects. Metal dictates to creator and he either resists or surrenders. Metal brings challenges. Metal tells stories. Those who work with metal and create of it chose metal with (hopefully) certain purpose. Metal makes background for their lives.
And therefore we need “METALLOphone” (lit. Metal background) – the second biennial of contemporary metal arts in Lithuania. So that metal would become a background not only for the authors but also for the location.
This biennial invites authors to share their stories told by metal. This “METALLOphone” is personal.
Metal often speaks for itself – it glitters in silvery white, fascinates with rich rust color, and urges to touch it or repulses. Yet this time 50 artists from Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, the USA, Colombia, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Israel, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Argentina, and Japan tell their metal stories. The works of art are very diverse in style, in selection of materials and their concord, in techniques, and in presentation. Some are spatial, and some resemble gadgets or miniature furniture, others look like rather usual jewelry or conceptual objects. All of them present broad panorama of contemporary metal art. In this panorama the view supplements the word and vice versa, for sometimes the word provides an opportunity to take more profound and different look at the work of art. In a sense, these are nearly intimate metal stories of the artists about what happens when working with metal. The stories also reveal their standpoint about metal. After all, the stories explain why they chose metal and what this material means to them. For this material means a lot for the second “METALLOphone”. To be more precise, it means everything.
PhD Jurgita Ludaviciene
URMAS LÜÜS (ESTONIA)
Cat is walking in the other room. Grandmother. Old house. Floor is making a weird sound. Something cooks in the white enameled pot. Pot has a rose pattern. Toilet is in the garden. Smell of moisture, old human, cat and fresh dill. Evening. Big house, Small apartment. Grey concrete. No hope to get a new job. No money. Bottle of vodka and old broken enameled pot full of cheap pasta. Someone is shouting in the corridor. War. Dead people, Repulsive stench. Moment to have a rest. Fog. Inevitable future. No future. Only a moment. Food. Hot black tea with a lot of sugar in brown enamelled mug. Cold and wet air. Some airplanes are coming.
HOLLAND HOUDEK (USA)
Working with metal is a challenge that affords the possibility to solve complex creative problems through highly technical solutions. I am drawn to metal for its dichotomies: it is both malleable and yet extremely hard, precious yet quotidian. Metal has a memory, and I take great care in giving it new life in concept and in work-hardened form. As such, I see medical implants as vehicles for dialogue about how metal objects can both adorn the outside of the body as well as fix and adorn the inside of the body.
ANITA VAN DOORN (SWEDEN)
Silver engages my senses... Sight, touch, sound, smell, even taste, come alive through heat. Sometimes like a writhing animal, sometimes like a glinting star. With silver I can create material mystery, I can disguise it using oxidation and surface reduction, giving it color that you don’t normally associate with silver, and so you get caught up in the mystery, you look closer, you try to figure it out. It’s easy for me to get lost in the detail I can create, of rippling surfaces or forms that are as hard to grasp as reflections.
The jewelry I create in silver have their conceptual origins in an emotional connection to the ocean and water. An heirloom, a locket, is lost at sea and found many years later. What has the sea given and taken away?
VITA PUKSTAITE-BRUZE (LITHUANIA)
If I had to describe metal personally I’d assign personal features to it: versatile, stubborn, sensitive and gets more handsome with age. Interesting personalities inspire.
YU HIRAISHI (JAPAN)
Although metal might appear to lack expressive qualities, it is a special material for me, because its property enables a simultaneous pursuit of two sides. It is perfectly suited for expression by linking sheets at different angles. While metal cannot escape the fate of oxidation, it is a mysterious material that can be reclaimed. A stimulating and inspiring color, whose inherent property enables complicated expressions, incorporates delicate light and shadow into my work.
VINCENT PONTILLO-VERRASTRO (USA)
In this work I attempt to speak about family connections and lineage, while ques- tioning the modes in which boys become men. I am fascinated with how the hunt of animals projects the masculinity of the hunter. The fox fur used in the work was gifted to me from my Uncle, who trapped it thirty-five years ago. By reassessing this fox into the format of a brush, I wish to connect the masculine nature of the hunt to a way in which a boy may learn to become a man through shaving one’s face. I feel that metal proves as an essential medium to express this idea, becoming a method to preserve the shaving brush as a tool and trophy.
ROMUALDAS INCIRAUSKAS (LITHUANIA)
It was a strong desire to get selected to the second international biennial of contemporary metal art “METALLOphone: Personally” that made me to keep to strict requirements and criteria. At least I really did my best in keeping to one of them, namely to “meet technical requirements of the exhibition”: the work of art contains precisely 50% of metal, its size is exactly 50 x 50 cm, the time of making and all other parameters are perfectly met. Concerning the text, I’ll try to fit within the limit of 200 words. I’d answer the question “Why metal” by asking another question: “And how could I do without it?”. It is my daily bread. And there’s nothing here that would “inspire” or “expire”. At sixteen I learned to turn bolts. Then for nine years I studied special metal arts. And for the rest of my life it’s been my work, involving some teaching of others sometimes. When I had to name this piece of art, I remembered my late father in law, an old locksmith. He wasn’t too good in genres of art and so he called my works of art (nowadays critics would call them “objects”) “metalmongery”. So thanks to him this piece of art is called “METALMONGERY”.
TABITHA FROST (UK)
The historical traditions inherent within craft-based making practices such as silversmithing fascinate me. It is this crossover of placement from industrial to domestic, this process of context-contingent alterity where metal is found and used that I hope to capture. My aim is to reflect on these traditions within contemporary contexts. Through playing with the expectations and traditions that shape the use of metal I hope to challenge the socially normalized conventions and ideas placed on this material and its use. Through this counterpoint of expectation and tradition, to which form and materials are tied, I hope to develop new conversations between the viewer, the object and the material.
STEFFI GÖTZE (GERMANY)
Metal is not just main material in my work, it is my language to express the artistic concept and my personal story. Like metal is a natural object, it brings its own story into my work. Different colors of oxidation, forms, shapes even different temperatures while working with enamel on copper present the personality in a piece. I am interested in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, happiness, weakness, strongness and all the facets a human character can offer. Like metal, a person’s character has so many faces. We should try to wear more than just one. My works of jewelry are wearable life stories.
RUTA JURKUNAITE- BRUOZIENE (LITHUANIA)
For me metal is cold poetry that “hooks”. Metal’s cold and reproachful look makes one to look for the essence of form. It is a mounting of my thoughts, a presence of something what already exists, what does not exist any more, and what is going to come into existence.
NICOLE JACQUARD (USA)
Whether it is the use of precious or non-precious metal, the contrast between metal and other materials is a way to initiate conversation within the work. It is the substrate of the objects as well as the underlying history within the realm of adornment.
SANDRA MALAŠKEVICIUTE (LITHUANIA)
First time when I and a friend of mine went to Telšiai to see what sort of art school was there, we stopped at the notice board to browse for specialties. We traveled there without any special preference; the only thing that mattered was to study arts. Therefore we stood there and read the list: “Knitting?” “Nope” “Wood?” “Nope” “Metal?” “Yeah!!! Cool!!!” We did not really understand what it was and treated it as some kind of a joke. And so we laughed and raised our hands showing sign of the horns (like metalheads do) and headbanged. The name of the specialty sounded cool. So let’s enter. And even today I treat metal as some kind of trick of fortune. I do not overestimate it. Metal is just a material I can apply in my creative work. To me, a yarn wrapped around a finger is also jewelry.
ŠARUNE VAITKUTE (LITHUANIA)
I am fascinated by a metal‘s surface, colour and hardness.
YUNJUNG LEE (UK)
The intrinsic personality of metals – shiny, smooth and reflective surfaces – ignites the fantasy that does not exist in real world, but only lives in the imagination. Such imagination derived from the metal became the catalyst for creation and drove me to explore the boundary between the jewelry and the human body. It aims to expand the concept of jewelry from something you merely put on your body to an alternative part of the body. Jeweler not only adorns the body but also affects and even transforms your body in a way that jewelry becomes an artificial metallic extension of some body parts. When it comes to materiality, I was intrigued by the strength and toughness of metal, also dignified, powerful emotion. In my point of view, metals have the power of femininity.
KARINA LAZAUSKAITE (LITHUANIA)
Personally: metal as a symbol of continuity of movement and multiplicity; repetitive processes, formations. Reconstruction.
BILLIE JEAN THEIDE (USA)
I am comfortable working with a variety of materials and I select those that are best suited to a well-defined, well-researched idea. My creative work is derived from a passion for collecting, an interest in hybridization and diverse relation- ships, domesticity, craft, and the human propensity for excess and ornamentation.
RITA RODNER (UK)
I admire and respect all metals for their strength and beauty but I work mainly with silver. I’ve chosen it as it’s amazingly versatile – can be white and black, soft and hard, shiny and matt... I love the easiness I can form it with and the countless possibilities it offers.
NOY ALON (ISRAEL)
In my jewelry I incorporate metal in a way it becomes the construction, the back- bone, the composition and the function of the piece. The brass and the epoxy are integral to enable the creation of new jewelry with material dependence. Processing the material covering the metal structure allows obtaining new qualities by erosion and thinning down to the amalgamation of the two materials into one piece.
SAMANTHA MITCHELL (USA)
Good or bad, memories are my most precious possession. I inject these remem- brances into every piece I create. My aim is to celebrate these moments through wearable adornment. The occasion then becomes a badge, both an honor and a reminder. I pull from imagery that is commonly recognizable by the children of my generation. These specific forms and colors are representations of my memories; reproducing them in metal adds a permanence that will last longer than myself. These memories can then be shared and passed on.
ROBYN GALWAY (IRELAND)
Coming from a technical background my relationship with metal is a comfortable one. After a repetitive process it can become almost predictable, this reliability can be reassuring; however after recently starting to work with pewter, I once again found it to be quite an unpredictable experience. Due to pewter’s low melting point I have had some spontaneous results which have rekindled my love and curiosity in metal. As a conceptual material it lends itself well to questions and statements of value and protection. Strong and traditional in materiality it is recognizable, comforting buyers/viewers as they know its durable reputation. This body of work questions the value of preciousness. Using silver plated safety pins and pewter with sentimental childhood objects, I ask where the value lies within these pieces.
JOO HYUNG PARK (SOUTH KOREA)
I intend to make objects that conceal their material quality with unusual shape. When an object has a form that we cannot easily imagine it to be made of metal, it gives us an illusion of being something else. The excitement of finding out the truth is the reason why I fell in love with metal.
YAFIT BEN MESHULAM (ISRAEL)
Metal symbolizes for me a timeless material.
The shape can be changed in counties ways, but the raw material will not disappear.
As a creator, metal for me is the perfect material with which I have the freedom to arrive at a great variety of results. It can be shiny, matte, with texture, springy, crispy, flexible, light, heavy, casted, detracted, transfigured and sometimes smelt and started again.
VALERIA DOWDING (ARGENTINA)
I was always fascinated by modes of expression that can involve most of the senses. Creating jewels in metal opened for me the possibility to combine several things: the exploration of metals and the pleasure of discovering its reactions in reply to different possible interventions (made by hand with intention, with tools, with fire; or by accident or chance and impossible to repeat voluntarily). To discover its qualities, of hardness, ductility, change of state, color, textures… is a very magical and sensual exploration. To follow this path until the final result is, in this case, to reach the object-jewel. Anything can act as a trigger; the starting point can be a wave, a map, a constellation, a plant, a sand dune, an axe or an eel... What fascinates me is the process in itself – the act of “making” this object or jewel – independently from the final result. The final result also has something unexpected, surprising and unique for me.
ARIC VERRASTRO (USA)
These pieces are nostalgic objects created to encapsulate precious places from my hometown. They are objects to be worn with pride and to honor my roots. My hometown, Buffalo, New York is a rust belt city trying its best to revive its past economical success. The pieces have a worn appearance with vibrant color to show the energy and life Buffalo wishes to regain. Historically, the economy of Buffalo was mainly dependent on steel production. After reflecting on this topic I decided to memorialize my personal sentiment through the preciousness of metal.
BABETTE VON DOHNANYI (GERAMANY)
I began my education and training as a silversmith. But very soon I discovered the beauty of connecting different metals and materials. Thus I frequently make use of the special qualities and particularities of gold, silver, brass, copper and even steel.
These different metals have in the beginning as sheets a stiffer and stronger character, but they turn more softly when they are made ever thinner. To know these particular characteristics of each metal and make artistic use of them became a new experience in my work. It was a challenge and a chance at the same time because every kind of metal reacts in its own way to the artist’s work and permits different expressions. It is my experience that gold- and silversmiths should know these different characteristics of metals they use in order to achieve optimal results in their artwork. It is a certain sensibility for the different qualities and individual features of each kind of metal which I have tried to develop, because for the artist the „working metals“ have their own life.
AURELIJA SIMKUTE (LITHUANIA)
In metal various experiences take shape and movement. Or on the contrary, a thought stiffens in a silhouette or a face of the being. Direct opposite of reticence is opening up (all works are keen to open up). Face turned forward is a sign of benevolence. Lack of communication is one of the demons of the modern times: we are getting lonelier and distanced in a virtual world, surrounding our separate lives with virtual walls. The roles in this material performance are distributed according to color and plastic qualities. Color is needed in order to fulfill the idea and to achieve the desired effect. Here valuable are qualities of the materials and their steadfastness, not precious metal alloys and their hallmark. In the objects, gold details look like clay, bronze /silver look like ceramics; even cut diamonds are well hidden. An anthropomorphic being is smiling as it treads radiance of the diamond under its limb /foot. The value of a work of art is determined not by its material but by the idea and expression of the work of art.
ANDRZEJ BOSS (POLAND)
I work in silver. In creation of jewellery it is my basic material. This metal has its own history and meaning. New meanings can be created while searching and combining new forms and materials. In usage of different materials my objective is to comment our reality. Precious materials make the message more precious. Working with material helps us realize its and ours limitations. New technologies including 3D programs break barriers. New forms can be created, that were nonexecutable previously. Before long, this method of production will dominate the market. Handicraft always had its own niche. Perhaps now it is the time when it becomes fully appreciated. Direct contact with material is essential. The way of usage is often prompted by the material itself. Choice of technology and process of execution quite often alter the initial projects. Confrontation of original vision and the final product is always intriguing. Silver can appeal in many different ways. It is constant study and cultivation of your own language of expression.
GISBERT STACH (GERMANY)
The video “Locked out” is showing a steel key hanging in a chemical liquid. The resistant material of steel is starting to dissolve and gets ephemeral. The symbol of access and lock, of power and property is gone. The process is questioning about the feeling that you get if you get locked out at once from home or work. It creates anxiety to lose control, to lose confidence, it creates anxiety of existence and of being locked out from the society.
BIFEI CAO (AUSTRALIA)
Along with the content, material became a repository for the creative process and this also contributed to my personal identity. The balance of the silver and oxidized copper or brass provided a color contrast of white and black. I made those building structures into a more durable work when I transferred traditional materials into metals while retaining the original construction methods. My aim is to utilize materials to both offer an integration of the forms and create a dialogue between the work and the viewer.
DAVID OLIFANT (SPAIN)
Iron is a metal that is interesting to work with because it has its intrinsic properties. These qualities of a material provoke me to work with it.
It is like a homage to this abundant metal; representing it in a labyrinth of lines that intersect on a flatness of the sheet. Finding small amounts of other metals which provide contrasting energies.
In short it is a look into the depths of the forms and a way of questioning the possibilities in jewellery using iron as the main material.
BIRUTE STULGAITE (LITHUANIA)
Besides hardness, radiance, versatility, fusion, sonority, and many other physical characteristics metal also has a feature to rust. This is how time and environment influence it. And it looked such a firm material at the beginning... Nice.
SONDRA SHERMAN (USA)
Why metal? Because it is not easy. Metal requires commitment. It is not fast. It does not effortlessly yield. It talks back! But if you take the time and listen to its voice, it can powerfully recite both poetry and prose.
HEIDEMARIE HERB (ITALY)
My creations are inspired by thoughts on the relationship between man and nature in all its expressive possibilities: colours evoking feelings and thoughts, sounds, the life cycle from birth to death, mysteries and secrets concealed by nature. Movements, forms, lightness and colours in harmony with each other are important in each work.
I like to awaken the senses and the mind, to conjure feelings, and destroy the superficiality and individualism prevailing in modern life. Again and again nature becomes an indirect play and stimulation. In this case, as in many, mirroring our inner dialogue. My works are there for to look at, to experience, to make you think and to share.
DOVILE BERNADISIUTE (LITHUANIA)
I’m interested in metal as material because of its paradoxicality. Most often metal is associated with certain physical qualities: hardness, heaviness, coldness. Yet for me it is rather interesting how and when metal can be sensitive, warm, and light. In the pictures below you can see tools that were made seventy years ago. They belonged to my grandfather. Now they belong to me. Today they are relics. I see them as sculptures. I reconstruct tools from memory. I try to reproduce them as close to the original form but at the same time I strive to add some indetermination as possibility to see them in a new way. Surface, sensitivity, weight, and strain really do matter to me. I made copies of the tools of thin wax sheets, yet I selected a feature that is typical to metal: electrical as contrary to mechanical. When metal is exposed to electricity, thin metal layer emerges on the surface of the object in electrolytic way. This type of metal is very pure and possesses higher qualities than forged or mechanically processed metal. Such process provided the work with monumentality and nobleness. At the same time in a paradoxical way the works of art become almost weightless for the metal layer on top is just one millimeter.
ESTELA SAEZ VILANOVA (THE NETHERLANDS)
“She abuses the noble condition from materials such as gold and silver, and brings them closer to scrap iron or rusty wire. Although she uses expensive raw material, her work does not renounce to the postulates from the "povera" artist. “
GALIT BARAK (ISRAEL)
Working with metal has become my therapy and a way of immediate expression, once I discovered the material characteristics and learned to manipulate it. I use metal mostly in matters of creating a line in space, line that define a structure, a space and shape.
JENNIFER WELLS (USA)
Near the end of a year long residency I began exploring a new body of work with steel wire. Using various gauges I create forms by weaving and wrapping the wire, repeating lines within the forms themselves. This creates objects that are light and delicate, yet very durable. The shadows these forms generate are as integral to the work as the wire itself. This type of fabrication has allowed me to work both on and off the body, playing with scale and line.
EGLE CEJAUSKAITE-GINTALE (LITHUANIA)
…where the inspiration ends and the expiration begins.
BRIDGETTE SHEPHERD (AUSTRALIA)
A physical awareness of the body is fundamental to one’s experience of self and space. The haptic perceptions, stimulated by the adornment of jewellery, can enhance a sensorial consciousness. My jewellery embodies the creation of physical interpretations of my surroundings – urban landscapes, nature and my family. The process of making contemporary adornment, from paper to metal, allows me to work through my understanding of the existence of “place” and my connection to it.
SOPHIE SYMES (UK)
To create my work, I use paper cutting techniques to manipulate metal in a more sculptural and exciting way. This allows me to create jewelry with more permanence but with the fragile appearance of paper.
I am inspired and amazed by the intricacy of the natural world, but I am also excited by the feel and finish of metal so I combine opposites; manmade and natural, resulting in unusual hybrid creatures. My submitted works are made to address introversion/shyness and how it can become a burden on our lives.
JINA SEO (USA)
In Buddhism, there is an idiom: everything is connected to everything else. Life is a sum of vast fabric pieces woven from various elements interdependently. It is impossible to define a start and an end because of its entanglement. My work explores the hidden connections between me and surrounding phenomena. To embody these connections I use metals, considering as myself, and combine with other materials, such as fabric and thread, that represent various moments in my life. I cut, burn, drill, paint, and stitch them together. It is a process of listening to stories and meanings that are embodied behind the materials I use.
GINTA ZABAROVSKA (LATVIA)
My relation with metal started 9 years ago in Riga Design and Art School. I decided to study metal design as it was the material I liked best and it hasn’t changed since. Each of us has his own internal and external world. Inner world is not visible to anyone; its representation is an interpretation of the senses. The external world is able to be disciplined up to the last detail as metal is. This jewelry collection is a tangible result of self-communion.
ANA CRISTINA BERRIO (COLOMBIA)
The metal is the soul and the structure of the jewelry pieces and the metal is a material that recreates the shine of the urban textures and forms.
KAMRAN BABRAK (PAKISTAN)
Being a corpus artist, my relation to metal is very direct and personal. For me metal is strong reference to traditional craft and corpus itself. However I work with interdisciplinary approach, and try to further explore the basic relationship between different techniques and materials in the field of craft. I tend to combine different materials and techniques together and hence challenge the agency of material, technique and process in the field of craft and build new forms of expressions through different layers of techniques and materials together.
Through my work I question the possibilities of developing new meanings and interpretations of corpus objects in the field of contemporary craft. It investigates if the perception of corpus objects can be changed by altering the material or their formal aesthetics. Do we recognize the objects the same way if their form and function is altered? How does their meaning change and how can it be substituted? I try to explore what lies in an object beyond its function.
ANNA VLAHOS (GREECE)
Living in Greece, my work is influenced by the history here, the jewelry and art objects that come out of the ground as though they grow down there. I think about the ancient artisan and how they viewed the natural world around them, their inspiration, and how their work was swallowed up by the environment for thousands of years.
It is the metal that survives the best, and in my work I want to use the materials that were available to those artisans, along with the techniques they utilized for working with metal. Choosing metal, I get to work in the same way as an artist thousands of years ago.
With the techniques used, the metals, and the application of thousands of years, the metal becomes something organic, and reminiscent of a natural object.
LYNN HOFMANN (BELGIUM)
As much as we may like our interconnected mobile world full of Bluetooth and WiFi, there are still huge telecommunication cables lying on the bottom of the seas. Digital Reality is formed through electrical impulses. Within my research on complex systems, the layers of our networked existence are playing a great part and I enjoy very much to analyze and synthesize our forms of connecting with each other. In order to visualize the characteristics of these modern networks I took apart electricity and Ethernet cables and used the copper threads as raw material. What are these networks? Are they connecting or invading? Chaotic or systematic? Empathic or distant?
SERENA HOLM (SWEDEN)
That art was where I wanted to be was an early discovery. The kind of media that was the right one for me became immediately clear once I first experimented working in metal. Metals have the properties I was looking for in my search for a media fitting my temperament. A firm but flexible material. Forgeable in infinitive ways, it never stops to surprise and astonish me with its power and beauty. It challenges me to improve my patience and rewards my efforts letting my jewelry dreams become true.
In metals I am able to reach very complex forms, as I can take advantage of the possibility to work on it when it is solid as well as when it is liquid. It provides the whole rainbow-palette using fire, chemicals, enamels or setting stones to it.
It reflects the light or retains it depending on which structures I give to its surface using different technics and tools. I am a curious and restless soul, metal forging makes me happy.
NILS HINT (ESTONIA)
Iron for me is a venerable material that holds a certain seed of civilization. Iron is used for tools and machinery that subjugate nature and keep society moving. Iron is functional and conservative even though it has also been hammered into weapons. Iron is just a tool in a battle, goaded on by other metals whose glitter is blinding. Blacksmithing is truly beautiful work – each time I take up a hot piece of iron, I can’t get over its glow. Unlike common opinion, I see it as a soft material; it doesn’t break into shards like stone or glass but takes on form like soft clay. Forging iron is the most unique and fascinating of all the iron working technologies. The time when the iron is still glowing is not long and you have to perform all the necessary shape changes quickly and in well-thought-out fashion, so as not to waste heat. Working with fire and tending to the fire, which is important for blacksmithing, makes you love and honor the fire, just as with those who heat their homes with a stove. Fire cleanses material and the thoughts, and it is truly a universal tool whose power is used by all but few sense it. That is why I choose iron.
ALFREDAS DAULIUS (LITHUANIA)
This collection first of all was inspired by titanium, a metal used in medicine. This metal is used to produce appliances which help people to survive and improve quality of their life. Titanium is “suitable” for human body as it is completely neutral. I have noticed that these items are very elegant, simply artistic, very precise, and make interesting synthesis. All of that prompted an idea of their similarity to jewelry.