BUGGY: Taweesak Molsawat: The Missing Elements of Democracy: Art Jewelry As A Political Critic

ATTA Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand

Taweesak Molsawat Given the recent political juggernaut in the USA it is only fitting that we consider what is going on in another part of the world. This time it is Thailand. The AJF gallery ATTA is in Bangkok and Taweesak Molsawat is the artist who is questioning the politics of his country with a show called The Missing Elements of Democracy: Art Jewerly as a Political Critic. This is an excellent example of an exhibition that attempts to use jewelry to political and critical effect. See if you think it succeeds.

Susan Cummins: Taweesak, would you describe some of the missing elements of democracy in Thailand?

Taweesak Molsawat: The word democracy originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) or ‘rule of the people.’ This is the direct democracy system. The core concept of modern democracy is ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’—this is indirect democracy. This concept has not worked as it is supposed to in today’s political system in Thailand. There are many significant factors that cause problems, but this body of work focuses on two elements: the politicians and the people (citizens of Thailand). These two elements—the real representation of the people and an understanding of the true concept of a democratic electoral system—have been missing in Thai government. The politicians are not representatives of the people, and democracy is not just a vote for personal gain.

You say in your artist’s statement: ‘In this body of work, I am particularly interested in exploring jewelry and the body of the wearer as a way of communicating a political message.’ Why did you settle on jewelry as a form of communication in this way? What are its strengths as an art form?

Taweesak Molsawat: Art communicates through visual and non-visual means. The subject matters of art originate from culture and society, therefore art is an instrument to critically and creatively examine culture and society.

In today’s commodity society, one is constantly moving. The way one dresses is the way one expresses oneself. Therefore, and unavoidably, one’s body has become a moveable channel for cultural communication. One cannot change the politicians and the political system, but one can influence the individual and people around them at intimate levels. One can communicate and educate people about the missing elements in democracy. Jewelry is an effective art form for direct and emotional communication to the public on a deeper personal level than other media. Jewelry can communicate to one person at a time, saying a lot without speaking.

Taweesak Molsawat Susan Cummins: Taweesak, would you describe some of the missing elements of democracy in Thailand?

Taweesak Molsawat: The word democracy originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) or ‘rule of the people.’ This is the direct democracy system. The core concept of modern democracy is ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’—this is indirect democracy. This concept has not worked as it is supposed to in today’s political system in Thailand. There are many significant factors that cause problems, but this body of work focuses on two elements: the politicians and the people (citizens of Thailand). These two elements—the real representation of the people and an understanding of the true concept of a democratic electoral system—have been missing in Thai government. The politicians are not representatives of the people, and democracy is not just a vote for personal gain.

You say in your artist’s statement: ‘In this body of work, I am particularly interested in exploring jewelry and the body of the wearer as a way of communicating a political message.’ Why did you settle on jewelry as a form of communication in this way? What are its strengths as an art form?

Taweesak Molsawat: Art communicates through visual and non-visual means. The subject matters of art originate from culture and society, therefore art is an instrument to critically and creatively examine culture and society.

In today’s commodity society, one is constantly moving. The way one dresses is the way one expresses oneself. Therefore, and unavoidably, one’s body has become a moveable channel for cultural communication. One cannot change the politicians and the political system, but one can influence the individual and people around them at intimate levels. One can communicate and educate people about the missing elements in democracy. Jewelry is an effective art form for direct and emotional communication to the public on a deeper personal level than other media. Jewelry can communicate to one person at a time, saying a lot without speaking.

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ATTA Gallery

Sam Tho Duong: lemitcA

Ornamentum Gallery, Hudson, New York, USA

Sam Tho Duong Stefan Friedemann and Laura Lapachin, owners of Ornamentum Gallery in Hudson, New York, trained as metalsmiths in Pforzheim, Germany. It was there they met fellow student Sam Tho Duong. Now these many years later, the three are still connected—one is an exceptional artist and two run an exceptional gallery.

Sam Tho Duong has developed a very clever way of using yogurt containers to make elegant necklaces with surprising variations. His show is called lemitcA, and no I didn’t make a mistake with the name. All the images in this article are of the same piece—how fascinating is that?

You can find the story of how Ornamentum Gallery came into being, Stefan and Laura’s thinking about the jewelry market, and their favorite pieces on our website.

Susan Cummins: Sam, for a number of years you were working on a series called Frozen, which consisted of necklaces and brooches with branch-like forms covered in tiny pearls. This new work looks entirely different. Can you tell us how you started working on it?

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Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery

Chloë Powell
This relationship to the body was again emphasized in the display of the large neckpieces, which were shown at neck height so that one could view them at the level they would be worn. Transparent displays had the effect of suspending many of the works in space, allowing the viewer to see the pieces from all angles and perhaps imagine wearing it. This was also important from the jeweler’s perspective, as any maker knows how valuable it is to see the back of a piece, to gain insight on how something is made or to learn the secrets often hidden to all but the wearer.
Exhibition Details
Exhibition Title: 
Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery
Exhibition Dates: 
April 20 – August 26, 2012

To have an international exhibition of contemporary jewelry in the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) – the first it has ever hosted – is quite a coup.

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Bibliography: 

Unexpected Pleasures will be shown at the London Design Museum from 5 December 2012 until 5 March 2013.

Liisa Hashimoto: Light Fiction

Shibumi Gallery, Berkeley, California, USA

Shibumi Gallery April Higashi’s Shibumi Gallery, in Berkeley, California, is having a wonderful show by Japanese artist Liisa Hashimoto. The installation of the show is very energetic and imaginative, like a playground.

I understand that you live in Osaka, Japan, but went to school to learn metalsmithing in America. Is that correct, and if so, can you tell me who you studied with and where?

Liisa Hashimoto: Yes, I live in Osaka now. I have my studio here, too. After graduating from high school, I went to America and learned metalsmithing under Ms. Yoshiko Yamamoto at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Sorcerer’s Stone curated by Bruce Hoffman

Gravers Lane Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Jeong Ju Lee Gravers Lane Gallery is a very new supporter of Art Jewelry Forum. Bruce Hoffman is well known to us for many high quality exhibitions he organized for the fiber community. He has curated this jewelry exhibit for the gallery as the new Gallery Director. We welcome them to the mix.

Susan Cummins: Can you tell us a little about the Gravers Lane Gallery? And your role there?

Bruce Hoffman: I became director of Gravers Lane Gallery at the end of May of this year. I spent the year and a half before recovering from several serious illnesses. During that time I worked developing an international fiber festival in called FiberPhiladelphia 2012. Along with Amy Orr, the executive director and several close friends, we created a citywide arts festival in March 2012. Mayor Nutter proclaimed March Fiber Month in Philadelphia as 61 venues exhibited works from across the globe. After the festival I began searching for work. I randomly applied for the post as Director of Gravers Lane. I was hired on the spot with the understanding that the gallery would provide an educational and artistic outlet in the charming historic neighborhood of Philadelphia. The owner of the gallery, Ken Goldenberg, owns a development company called The Goldenberg Group and supports a non-profit organization called People Helping People. The gallery is focused on community out-reach, education and strives to exhibit innovative works by established and emerging artists in all medium.

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Rebel Metal: Red Gold

Aaron Faber, New York, NY

Harold O’Connor Aaron Faber Gallery in New York City has a plum location right across from the Museum of Modern Art and shows both traditional and art jewelry, antique and new jewelry, as well as watches.  They hold two shows a year and we caught the last one Innovation and Craftsmanship: The Jewelers of Quebec for our blog in May. This large show, Rebel Metal: Red Gold takes an interesting slice through the field and comes up with jewelers using red gold. By putting this material under the telescope Patricia Faber, the gallery owner and curator of the show, gives us insight into both a traditional and contemporary point of view.

Susan Cummins: Why did you call the show Rebel Metal?

Patricia Faber: Titles for shows usually rise up through some kind of mostly unconscious word association based on the theme itself or research around the theme. This title popped out based on jewelry history: that we could not – and still cannot – find a clear pattern or understanding of this metal’s appearance and disappearance in jewelry making over the last 100 years. We could document its wide popularity at mid-twentieth century, but otherwise it seemed unpredictable when and where it would appear. Which led to the wild thought that it had a mind of its own, which led to Rebel Metal.

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