Marie-Louise KristensenBangkok is a new market for contemporary jewelry, and Atty Tantivit is bravely forging a path forward showing both Thai and European jewelers at ATTA Gallery. Atty is well versed in contemporary jewelry, which she studied in a number of schools throughout the world. She worked on a show that combines the thoughts of the Danish jeweler Marie-Louise Kristensen with her impressions of Bangkok. A lovely reflection on the two cultures shows up in the work.

Susan Cummins: Please describe your project called BANGKO{K}LLECTION. Why did you choose Bangkok?

Marie-Louise Kristensen: Well it’s more like Bangkok chose me. In 2011, a while after I finished working on CPH:DUCKS (a solo exhibition at Goldfingers in Copenhagen), I got in contact with Atty, the director of ATTA Gallery, and we agreed on doing an exhibition. CPH:DUCKS was inspired by my hometown Copenhagen, a summer romance, and the predictable break up. Sensations and emotions were paired with specially chosen places. When Bangkok came up, I saw the opportunity to try to work with another, and for me unknown, city.


I went to Bangkok on a research trip a year ago. There, I tried to capture and grasp some of the sensations of the city and details from the cityscape. I got back and started to work with my impressions, transforming them into jewelry. I have combined fragments and elements and aimed for new unities and tried to obtain what might be called an internal, formative logic in my works.

What was your first visual impression of the city? 

Marie-Louise Kristensen: Wild, warm, and wow. It was very appealing, all was so very different—the aesthetics, the materials, and forms. For me as a detail orientated person, I felt like I was in heaven. There was a lot of contrast and clashes between colors, patterns, and surfaces. And so many things and people and action everywhere. 

Marie-Louise KristensenMarie-Louise Kristensen

What was your emotional reaction to the city?

Marie-Louise Kristensen: At first, confusion. I could see, hear, touch, feel, and taste, but I really didn’t grab or understand much. When I reached the point where I accepted this fact, I slowed down, felt clam, and went very quiet. Just enjoyed walking around. In a way, it felt similar to a creative process. Before you start, you sometimes have all these ideas about how and what you would like to do, but when you give it up and let go, all the fun and a certain calmness shows up. 

Can you talk about the storytelling quality of your jewelry?

Marie-Louise Kristensen

Marie-Louise Kristensen: Recently, I had this memory of me as a child drawing and simultaneously creating these wild stories about what was going on with the characters on the paper—what would happen next—and then I realized, I’m still doing that. I’m making up stories all the time, everywhere I go. I never write the stories down. I don’t draw comics, but I use the storytelling part as my private runway, and it helps me create the outline and the content of the pieces of jewelry.

It’s not at all important to me that everyone gets the story right. Making storytelling jewelry is, for me, not telling a story one to one. It’s more like a three-dimensional puzzle where I can work in different layers, on different platforms, using the scale, the materials, the placement, the jewelry tradition, symbols, the title, and with a lot of work and a touch of magic, it all adds up into a finished piece. And then, the viewer might feel a connection, maybe sense the layers of complexity, and maybe feel entertained or amused. 

Do you think you can communicate a narrative through a brooch? Please describe one, and then tell the story behind it.

Marie-Louise Kristensen: Sure. But again, I think of it more like an open invitation. You need to get close, be open-minded, and trust your senses and own interpretations. 

From a distance on the lakes in Copenhagen, there are snow-white swans gliding majestically over the surface of the water with their heads lifted high. Up close, one can see the dirty water, the uneaten and soggy pieces of bread, bicycle skeletons, and a mix of all the junk people throw into the water. 

The piece is a brooch from CPH:DUCKS with a white swan cut in white acrylic. Below the “waterline,” you have the feet and a lot of chains and different kinds of crap hanging down … even a small duck that has given up and committed suicide.

The story in this brooch was initiated by my own experience of how I skipped over things in an attempt to keep up a façade while some of the unacknowledged and uncontrolled fought its way to the surface, becoming evident and visible.

Did you see jewelry in Bangkok that you thought was particularly fabulous? Please describe it.

Marie-Louise Kristensen: In the streets? No, sorry, I can’t recall any. At ATTA Gallery—yes. I find the gallery very inspiring and a good opportunity to get an insight into the works of Thai contemporary jewelers along with some European stuff.

Last week, I was happy to see the exhibition “Rewriting Visual Language of THAI Contemporary Jewelry,” curated by Taweesak Molsawat. It was interesting to see the development of the “jewelry at your feet” project by Panjapol Kulp, and I fell in love with the colorful brooches by Vinit Koosolmanomai.

Why are you a jeweler?

Marie-Louise Kristensen: I am driven by the sum of details and to grouping all of the pieces into small concentrations and multidimensional statements. I constantly marvel at and am enthused by how enormous the magic in one little piece of jewelry can be. From my worktable I can travel far and wide and discover and process materials and experiences. The goldsmith’s craft is, for me, the prerequisite for achieving precision in detail. It forms the foundation from which I can enter the magic universe that is a part of jewelry tradition.

Plus, I really like my fellow contemporary jewelry-making friends. We’re all very devoted to our field, asking a lot of questions and seeking all kind of answers. I find that very inspiring. 

Marie-Louise Kristensen

What were you reading while you were in Bangkok?

Marie-Louise Kristensen: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. A story in which the leading characters find themselves present in a parallel world and just accept the fact without asking any questions. That book and I were a perfect match for the trip and my first time in Asia.

Thank you.

Marie-Louise Kristensen: You’re welcome.

Susan Cohn

Susan Cohn is a contemporary jeweler, designer, writer, and curator from Australia. She is director of Workshop 3000, has a PhD in Fine Art Theory, and is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery (Melbourne, Australia). Cohn's understanding of design and making has enabled her to work as a designer for Alessi (Italy), as the current artist trustee for the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), and as an avid activist for contemporary jewelers (the World). Her most recent publication is the book accompanying the exhibition Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewelry, published by Rizzoli International Publications. 

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