Professor Deganit Stern Schocken is a jeweler, designer, artist and curator. She was the founder and head of the jewelry design department in Shenkar College of Engineering and Design (1998 – 2007) and is a senior lecturer at the jewelry design department and at the textile design department. In 2009, she founded Inyanim, a group of ten Israeli jewelers whose debut exhibition No Problem? opened at Gallery Loupe in New Jersey, United States, in 2010. Winner of several international prizes, her works are included in museum collections and private collections worldwide.
Deganit Stern Schocken is curator of No Problem(?), an exhibition of Israeli contemporary jewelry that showed at Gallery Loupe in the United States in 2010. AJF asked her if she could talk more about the exhibition and the work featured in it.
What is No Problem(?)?
It is an exhibition of Israeli contemporary jewelry. The exhibition’s name – No Problem (?) – contrasts the difficulty implied in the word ‘problem’ with the easy nonchalance of the expression ‘no problem.’ Creative expression is borne out of the tensions that arise, such as between seriousness and superficiality, or between the real and ever-present problems – especially in a country such as Israel – and the vernacular of indifference that is so common.
Where has it travelled?
The first venue for the exhibition is Loupe Gallery in New Jersey, United States, in 2010. We are working on touring it to additional venues in Europe, Australia and Israel.
How did the exhibition come about?
Out of the necessity to display the work of graduates who work and create in the field of jewelry design. The language of jewelry design contains powers of expression in art which has the ability to react to political and social issues. The aim is to encourage creativity that started while studying and to give it a course of action.
Why did you think it was important to undertake this project?
The Inyanim group operates in the fields of jewelry-making and jewelry design. It is a language that is used by artists and designers to interpret, understand and respond to the political, social or aesthetic issues that concern them. The group's aim is to create a platform of creative opportunity and legitimacy for the individuals within the group and within a wider social context. The Inyanim group seeks to influence the public discourse surrounding the role of design in society through the unique and underrepresented field of jewelry design.
How did you select the jewelers for the exhibition?
Inyanim was formed by graduates of the two leading Israeli art and design schools, Bezalel and Shenkar which, while championing different and often opposing views regarding design and art, have much in common. The nine members of the group meet regularly for a process of thinking, listening and creating – like rehearsals before a performance. In ongoing exhibitions, the group then displays its latest ‘harvest’ of works, thus opening a window onto their creative process.
How would you summarise the argument that No Problem(?) makes about contemporary jewelry in Israel?
The group’s work displays a wide spectrum of contradictions, such as between beauty and mutation, between imperfection and the desire for the ideal. As the members of Inyanim operate from within the intellectual discipline of jewelry-making, or by incorporating external content from areas such as art, philosophy or social issues, they negotiate the space between image, object and language. The works exhibited here are in the spirit of momentary truths that may change and evolve the next day, just as the group’s work continues to evolve. This stance supports the inherent transience of the ideas, materials and technologies used by artists and their tendency to change. Notably, this seeming contradiction undercuts the permanence and immortality traditionally associated with jewelry. Dealing with this contradiction and its accompanying tensions is of relevance to the language of jewelry-making and jewelry design.
Do you think that nationality is a very useful way to think about contemporary jewelry? What is Israeli about Israeli contemporary jewelry?
Living and creating in Israel implies coping with difficult problems, with extreme situations, with a survival necessity to say ‘no problem!’ There is absolutely a place for expressing relevant issues and feelings in contemporary jewelry in Israel.