The goldsmith’s obsession with alchemy prolongs a fascination that cuts through jewellery’s narrative, practices and materials to this day. Yet this tale has not kept its promises: immortality, gold transmutation. While it is an accomplished objet, jewellery is heir to this past fiasco, which in turn can serve as an opportunity to change our perspective on jewellery experiences, and on the objects it dares to provide. Failure can then become an uncertain mechanism, between risk, accident and escape. It can also stand for an “unbelief”, a resignation from idealism. It is very possible that undefined voices that do not spell out a goal won’t be heard, and that our attention will wander off. What sort of artefacts will laziness, or drift, produce ? Can the artist reveal his/her secrets and spurn authorship ? Can doubt beget work ? This exhibition project seeks to snoop into the formless, through downgraded, blind, or deviant roads. On these tracks, if we manage to progress, it is habitual to find traps, go in circles, and reach nowhere.
Our journey may begin, randomly, with Paula Pongratz’s trophy, her post-apocalyptic interest in fringe objects. Morgane de Klerk showcases the precariousness of a brooch trying to speak in the first person. Emptiness settles on the pages of Suska Mackert’s book, from which jewels have been painstakingly removed. Equally illegible is Maud Traon’s confused heap of synthetic material, shot through with the dreams of a collapsed and dazed princess. An unidentifiable ring, with a dumb, dribbling smile, is the result of Göran Kling risky undertakings. Stella Bierrenbach’s ghost solitary ring repeats itself, stuck in its own mould, never quite succeeding in finishing itself. A dead-end too, is rooted in Nathalie Perret’s 776 grams necklace, that presses or nails one to the ground. Timothy Information Limited patiently fabricated a piece he now judges irrelevant: he offers a hammer to a volunteer who destroys it. Lin Cheung suggests wearing again a forgotten jewel, to stave off the boredom of drawer residency. Liesbet Bussche’s photograph freeze-frames the drowning of a (sugar) pearl necklace, its typologies made unsteady. Shut in a deserted costume jewellery factory, Volker Atrops hacks machines, die-presses these patterns a hundred times, like sequences of déjà-vu. Equally opportunistic, Renee Bevan presents a work that showcases its process, subject to the dubious visions of a medium.
*The title of the exhibition, Fail again, Fail Better, is a citation from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho (1983)