Ékszerek Éjszakája Budapest (Art Jewelry Night Budapest) was held for the sixth time between September 14 and 20 this year, which, despite its name, was not concentrated on a single evening. The Budapest-based event series focusing on contemporary jewelry grew into a one-week event in 2020, and was not even set back by the epidemic, to the greatest joy of both the organizers and the audience.
“Contemporary jewelry?! What’s that? On Art Jewelry Night, we ask questions and urge ourselves, each other and the audience to think and to discuss” – says the mission statement of the team of Art Jewelry Night. It’s safe to say that this self-definition also stood its ground at this year’s event series. This is best proven by the fact that this year, the originally one-night-only event showed the thousand faces of contemporary jewelry design and urged to think both the representatives of the profession and the man in the streets over an entire week. The audience got to meet the works of more than 80 contemporary jewelry designers this year, at approximately 31 different venues, in several spots of Budapest.
Both the founders calling the program series to life in 2015 (Dóra Dés-Kertész, Kinga Huber, Orsolya Kecskés, Szilvia Kerékgyártó, Krisztina Stomfai, Fanni Vékony) and the members of the young generation organizing this year’s event (Anna Börcsök, Fruzsi Fekete, Kinga Horányi, Zsófia Neuzer, Nóra Tengely) can be proud of themselves as even in the face of the hardships posed by the epidemic, they managed to implement the event in the form of colorful and exciting exhibitions and side programs.
“Zero negative,” the motto of the international call was already conceived by the organizers in December last year, however, they never would have thought what a different connotation this expression would gain with the pandemic and everything going hand in hand with it. The organizers collected catchwords in the call like “first aid”, “blood type”, “error”, “selfless” or “human-friendly” – the almost 80 applicants created their contemporary pieces reflecting on these concepts, which were then evaluated by a three-member international jury (Hungarian jewelry artist Flóra Vági, Spanish Leo Caballero, the founder of KLIMT02 as well as British jewelry artist Lin Cheung). Finally the works of 39 jewelry designers (16 Hungarian and 23 foreign designers) could move into the gallery of Hybridartspace in downtown Budapest, including many glaring and spectacular (Qiang Li: 24 karat gold), chiseled and structured (Krisztina Németh: BABEL – Necklace with binary code after a cataclysm), as well as odd and extraordinary (Molly Wu: Time to move on) pieces.
The majority of the pieces combined the motto of “zero negative” offering countless association options with a positive message: instead of a depressing or even sinister selection, visitors got to see a colorful and life-affirming exhibition, not lacking humor either. The pieces of jewelry placed on white pedestals featured simple, ready-made items made with a sugar cube, staples and safety pins (Patrícia Harsány: Sugar Brooch), a brooch reflecting on life-giving blood made with 3D printing (Kinga Huber: Blood Brooch) and bracelets evoking the waves of oceans, made with PET bottles (Mizugi Tochigi: CURL).
Many of the exhibiting artists experimented with how they can formulate the phenomenon of disappearance in the form of jewelry: that is, how to make the visible invisible. Those who managed to pull of this magic trick: Anna Börcsök’s silvered masks (Negative Mask) faintly glitter behind the fabric, and only the two clips give it away that we are dealing with an extraordinary brooch here. Balázs Botos (Iceland brooch) also took an elegant approach by forming an iceberg shaped like “0” out of white porcelain, where the negative (the pin of the brooch made of wood and iron) fulfils its actual function and becomes invisible when put on by the wearer.
We have to mention Czech designer Martin Grosman amidst the competitors of the odd category, who earned the possibility of exhibiting with his bizarre work titled „ToJeMaso” (“This is meat”): his life-like foiled necklace seemingly suitable for consumption and evoking a fictitious animal body part was made of epoxy resin.
Kinga Horányi’s installation made of Ytong brick is a heavy work of art, in the literal sense of the word: the Quarantine Set consists of two heavy blocks, which can hardly be called a bracelet and anklet – these are pieces of jewelry closing around the arm and leg of their wearer as shackles, restricting them in free movement. In the case of this artwork, the relationship between object and man is inverted: we don’t wear the jewelry, the jewelry wears us – there is perhaps no better way a jewelry designer could reflect on the phenomenon caused by the quarantine.
With this artwork, Kinga Horányi earned the Athens Jewelry Week award deservedly (as a winner, she will be able to exhibit her works free of charge at the Athens event in 2021). In addition to Kinga Horányi, South Korean Seong-Ae Kim also received an award at the ceremony combined with the opening event of the central exhibition: she received the Autor Award, and with it, a free of charge participation at next year’s Autor Contemporary Jewelry Fair. Art collector Katalin Spengler has been an enthusiastic sponsor of the Art Jewelry Night Budapest event for years – the jewelry piece of the winner selected by her gets a place in her collection: this year, she chose the necklace of South Korean artist Youngji Chi.
The Art Jewelry Night annual award was given to Márta Edőcs this year, for her ethereal glass jewelry. The winner of this award earns the opportunity to create their grandiose jewelry piece with the support of Art Jewelry Night, which will also be displayed as the central element of the 2022 event in the communication of the program series. In addition, the team of Art Jewelry Night also takes over the shooting of the concept photos of the final piece.
Dóri Visy won this award in 2018, who created her jewelry collection in connection with the theme of the central exhibition, which the audience could also admire in person at the opening event held on September 18.
In addition to the central exhibition, several side shows also awaited those interested this year. And the same as in the case of international applicants, winners were also announced amongst Hungarian exhibitors, in several categories. FISE (Studio of Young Designers Association) found the exhibition of Rita Besnyői titled COMING OUT the best. The pieces showcased in the exhibition were made during the quarantine, and their creator was inspired by how weed finds its way amidst the paving stones, amongst others, when designing her jewelry pieces built of geometric and organic forms. As a result of the time spent within the four walls, the leftover materials (wood, a piece of silk, pins, adhesives used in construction) gained new forms and meanings, owing to the creator.
Three young jewelry designers and university students (Eszter Balázs, Judit Jeney, Eszter Seres) moved their collection into a dark cellar, and managed to sneak some magic even into this anything but friendly milieu. At the XYZ exhibition, the axes of the three artists crossed each other and their objects engaged in a dialogue with one another and the visitors. The unusual materials (cork, construction net, natural and synthetic sponge) take up sometimes organic, and at other times geometric shapes, this is how they decorate the body in their loveable, fresh and bold way. The extraordinary exhibition earnt two awards: the young trio won the Art Jewelry Night Award – The founder team and the award offered by HYPEANDHYPER online magazine.
Named „Jettison”, the joint exhibition of Henrietta Horváth, Szilvia Rémiás and Fruzsina Danicsek brought the ocean wildlife into the design store in downtown Budapest: Henrietta Horváth encapsulated the colors of the gleaming coral reefs into jewelry. In their exhibition titled „(Un)limited freedom”, visual artists Mária Roskó (the Athens Jewelry Week winner in 2019) and Zsófia Ádám, together with dancer Ayumi Toyabe promised a truly extraordinary experience to visitors: the dancer leaving marks on the installation built of three-dimensional elements evoked the motions of the creator, thus calling the attention to how the various jewelry designing equipment sometimes limit and at other times give way to the creative energies of the designer.
Last year’s FISE winner Ildikó Dánfalvi living in Halle, Germany held her first solo exhibition this year, telling the most important events of her life in the form of jewelry.
“Új nézőpontból minden megváltozhat“ (Everything could change from a new perspective) – this is the title of Zsófia Gizella Bíró’s exhibition (the winner of the FISE award in 2018), which even though did not make it to the list of award-winners, still deserves to be mentioned from several aspects. The young designer was inspired by selective waste piling up during the quarantine, the long shopping lists and the feeling of being locked in to turn all these into something good and transform her thoughts into a piece of jewelry. We could all look into the mirror of the three-part dressing closet displayed in the exhibition place and we could worship beauty without guilt – the toothpaste in the tube was replaced by colorfully gleaming gems, and swirled outside like a silvery snail (installation and exhibition visual identity: Ferenc Forrai).
The members of the H6 group (Anna Börcsök, Veronika Fazekas, Fruzsi Fekete, Kinga Horányi, Zsófia Neuzer, Nóra Tengely) also promised some novelties this year. They named their exhibition “We need to talk!”, and for good reason: the young jewelry designers created their pieces as a sort of therapy, by examining their relationship with each other, their roles within the team and their creative attitudes. It was interesting and exciting to see (and certainly edifying for the members) how the creators think about themselves, how they perceive the other members of the team and how they express all this in the form of jewelry, may it be interlocking chain links light as feather or dice bringing continuous luck, with six dots on all sides.
The National Goldsmith Call was held this year, too, the goal of which is to allow students attending the various specialized institutions and professional courses to introduce themselves to the audience and thus to connect with the community of contemporary jewelry designers. This time, the call was looking for works of specialized high school students and adult training courses under the motto “circle”, and rewarded the best of them with awards.
In addition to the exhibitions available with extended opening hours on Saturday, as a way of closing the event series, British jewelry artist and Central Saint Martins university professor Lin Cheung held a speech on Sunday afternoon, available to those interested online.
Seeing the event, we can proudly say that, even in these uncertain times, the Art Jewelry Night program series managed to hold its ground. This event called to life by only a handful of jewelry designers stood the test of time, and showed that contemporary jewelry design is not about aesthetics only, but may carry important messages, too, which both the representatives of the profession and we, the recipients must learn to read and interpret.
“Zero negative” exhibiting artists (exhibition is open till 29th September in Hybridartspace gallery):
Aimee Howard-Clinger (US), Anja Eichler (DE), Anna Börcsök (HU), Annarita Bianco (IT), Balázs Botos (HU), Caterina Zucchi (IT), CHOU YU-TZU (TW), Dóra Rea Kövér (HU), Emilie Le Dez (FR), Fanni Vékony (HU), Fruzsi Fekete (HU), Hansel Tai (US), Han, Soonin (CN/EE), Holland Houdek (KR), Joshua Kosker (US), Katja Toporski (GE/US), Kinga Horányi (HU), Kinga Huber (HU), Krisztina Stomfai (HU), Krisztina Németh (HU), Laura Forte (IT), Lin Sin-Yi (TW), Marianna Márton (HU), Martin Grosman (CZ), Mizuki Tochigi (JP), Molly Wu (TW), Nóra Tengely (HU), Patrícia Harsány (HU), Philipp Spillmann (HU), Qiang Li (CN), Rho Tang (US), Rita Besnyői (HU), Seong-Ae Kim (KR), Tara Ko Shunwan (CN), Viktoria Münzker (SK), Wu,Meng-Ju (TW), Youngji Chi (KR), Zsófia Gizella Biró (HU), Zsófia Neuzer (HU)