Emil Gustafsson Jewellery Art

Emil Gustafsson Jewellery Art

About me

My name is Emil Gustafsson and I am a Swedish artist living and working in Oslo, Norway, where I recieved an MFA from the national art academy (KHiO).

Some thoughts about recent discussions of the contemporary jewellery "field".

JewelleryPosted by Emil Gustafsson Wed, April 30, 2014 15:53:28

"Screw This, The Ornament Game" (EKG 2014)


One of the main problems that I see in the contemporary jewellery field is the existence of so called jewellery artists. As such, the framework and intended audience for the work are set. Many, if not most jewellery pieces in the art field are confined to a lifespan that is constituted by workbench-gallery-collection. Since these pieces are often handled in the same way as fine art and kept in cupboards and vitrines to avoid damage, they lose some of their jewelleryness.

We are living in a time where the media specific artist becomes largely more and more irrelevant. The artist is supposed to be a jack of all trades. Perhaps it would be better to say that they are supposed to shape ideas in relation to different means of expression, expertly chosen to give the maximum of the intended effect. A jewellery artist has, through the power of the definition become cursed to work within an already established framework. Most fine art institutions are not interested in jewellery because of the notion that art jewellery has a unique horizon. There is no need for art jewellery to be considered a separate discipline. It would be more accurate to say that it should not be considered a separate discipline. A goldsmiths' work is a separate discipline. Art is art, everything else is everything else, to borrow the words of Ad Reinhardt. All art is art. There are no disciplines or separate fields. The illusion that they exist is partly a simplification made by agoraphobic artists and nearsighted theorists. There is no natural line that divides art works from each other, only socially constructed scenes. The jewellery art field has become introverted and then complains when it is not integrated into the larger art scene. The jewellery practice attracts a lot of interested practitioners that tend to stay within the comfortable confines of the field, communicating mainly inside the internally established lingo.

The thing is that jewellery, when used for its' unique qualities, can reach a social scene that other artistic expressions may have trouble reaching. The wearability and circumstantial flexibility that jewellery possesses gives it a special useability in social situations where it can directly influence its' social context. Being worn, it can raise deeply rooted questions and comment on the physicality of the human body and its place in the world. As a direct, portable means of personal expressions it can be used to influence others. It can be a steady reminder for the wearer or a spectator about personal or societal situations. Jewellery can be so much more than material excursions, expertly crafted curiosities or a decoration, never to actually be worn.