The Ékszerek Éjszakája (Art Jewelry Night) grew out to be a one-week program series, expected to be rich in professional events even in spite of the difficulty of organization: from September 14, 2020, individual and group contemporary jewelry exhibitions will open one after another, several exhibitions a day, so it will be worth to keep an eye on the program. We interviewed the organizers, Anna Börcsök, Fruzsi Fekete, Kinga Horányi, Zsófia Neuzer and Nóra Tengely, who filled us in on the details of the background work that took place this year and on what changes they see in the Hungarian contemporary design scene. Interview!
This year, the epidemic and the situation surrounding it has overridden many long term projects. You responded quickly to the situation in May with a fantastic initiative, the “Crown/ Jewelry – Auction for children” charity auction. How did the organization of this year’s Art Jewelry Night go in the meantime, in these troubled circumstances?
Fruzsi Fekete: We started brainstorming in January, and doubled up our efforts in the summer. It was indeed hard to think ahead of time due to the epidemic, but we tried to remain positive.
Zsófia Neuzer: We sent out the letter stating that we don’t know what September will bring and so the venues with large shop windows should be preferred and online content should also be shared months earlier. We are lucky because these events were not banned, and it is very important to us that they be held in their original form. What gives the importance of Art Jewelry Night is that this is when artistic jewelry can truly reach its potential. We went through a rough patch in April, when we didn’t know how to hold our programs. With the global spread of the virus, its disadvantages also started to become clearer and clearer – we responded to this with our online auction Crown/ Jewelry, with which we could give some hope to ourselves and the designers that they will be able to do something in a situation like this, too.
Anna Börcsök: Usually we have many foreign invitees, who now have to participate online, this is what we regret the most. But it is very important to stress in this situation, too, that we are here, we are creating and we are doing something to promote the development of this community.
In the framework of the program series, pieces of contemporary jewelry will infest the smaller and larger exhibition spaces of Budapest for a week. What is the scale of this year’s program compared to previous years, what kind of events are you planning? Should we expect groundbreaking, or perhaps performative exhibitions, too?
Anna Börcsök: From September 14 on, exhibitions will open continuously, with the central exhibition being the last in line on Friday, while on Saturday, at Art Jewelry Night, every exhibition will await those interested with extended opening hours. We organized a talk for September 20: Lin Cheung and Leo Caballero will talk with us via Zoom. We expect to reach more people with this on an international level, too. In addition, we strive to bring contemporary jewelry closer to art, so there will be a collaboration of the kind (the exhibition of Mária Roskó and Zsófia Ádám – the Ed.), and of course there will be a performance, too. We would like to keep it a “festival”, so everything will be just as sparkly.
The topic of this year’s call was “0 negative” – even though you provided associative keywords and expressions in the description, designers still had to submit pieces of jewelry for a relatively abstract concept… What was this year’s topic inspired by?
Anna Börcsök: When we came up with this, we didn’t know there would be an epidemic. The topic has something ominous about it, but it has many different layers.
Kinga Horányi: Many people we discussed the topic with thought that it had a negative connotation, and that the designers would approach and associate to the topic accordingly. It was an interesting revelation to see that the majority of the applications submitted were positive. Except for me, as my work clearly manifests the despair and hopelessness experienced during the lockdown. Fundamentally our goal is for the topic to serve as a reference point. We though this year’s theme was suitable for letting people run their imagination wild, but still offer something specific and tangible. We like to convey our own association with the theme in one way or another, because this way the creators get to have a good starting point, too.
It’s important that you do the organization as active creators, which allows you to approach the theme with a designer mindset already in the course of ideation…
Nóra Tengely: Yes, but it is also important that ultimately we don’t select the works, but invite an independent jury instead. This year, the jury consisted of jewelry designer-artist Lin Cheung, co-founder of Klimt02 Leo Caballero, who is also a professor at Central Saint Martins university in London, and Flóra Vági, an active artist acclaimed both domestically and internationally.
What do you think about the works submitted, to what extent did they respond to 0 negative?
Fruzsi Fekete: It’s always difficult to decide the fate of a fantastic object that is not related to the theme. We think mainly objects that are closely linked to the topic were submitted this year, and this was also a primary aspect for the jury. A beautiful and colorful collection was formed both in terms of foreign and Hungarian works. It was incredibly good to see that we are, in deed, inspiring Hungarian artists, as many of them created pieces for this theme specifically. Our primary goal is to inspire people to create, to give them confidence and support, to give a reason for creating new pieces of contemporary jewelry. A total of eighty applications were submitted, out of we shortlisted forty: the works of twenty Hungarian and twenty foreign creators will be exhibited, without any underlying thought or intention. It was completely random, in full equality.
Based on the works exhibited this year, what kind of tendencies and changes do you see in contemporary jewelry design and the professional scene?
Fruzsi Fekete: Many new and many entry-level Hungarian artists applied compared to last year’s competition. This year, we managed to address people who did not apply in previous years, and there is also a great number of related exhibitions.
Zsófia Neuzer: Yes, if someone was not able or simply did not want to connect with the central theme, that’s perfectly alright, because they could channel their own thoughts into the event series through the related exhibitions.
Kinga Horányi: I also noticed that the applicants are all very proficient in presentation. Previous applicants also show progress, for example they documented their work better and they took their topic even more serious.
Nóra Tengely: We asked everyone to take good quality photos and videos about the items, also preparing for the situation if we are not able to go to the locations due to the virus.
What awards can the artists expect this year?
Anna Börcsök: We have many awards – the founders of Art Jewelry Night will also award prizes, and our most important partner is FISE, so there will be a FISE award this year, too, the winner of which will be selected from the artists of the related exhibitions, who will get an individual exhibition opportunity at FISE Gallery in two years’ time. This year, the audience will be able to see the works of Ildikó Dánfalvi, the previous
Fruzsi Fekete: In addition, we also have world-class awards – we partnered with several foreign events, including an annual contemporary jewelry fair titled Autor, the award of which is offered by Dan Piersinaru or the award of the Athens jewelry week, allowing the artist selected by the organizers to participate in their central
Nóra Tengely: We, the organizers, will also award prizes. The artist winning here has to create a series consisting of 10-20 item, the pieces of which will be given to our sponsors, and we will also advertise the event with the artworks of the artist. Two years ago it was Dóri Visy who received this award, so this year she will present her works.
What are your plans for the future?
Anna Börcsök: We would love to continue organizing talks and workshops, and if the country’s borders open up once again, we would also like to invite foreign artist from whom we can learn actively. We would like to open towards the international scene, to let more people know that such cool things are made in Budapest.
Cover photo: The work of Szilvia Rémiás