Norwegian Artists in Athens Jewelry Week 2017

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ARKIVET is a group of artists consisting of Putte H. Dal, Hilde Dramstad, Elsie-Ann Hochlin, Camilla Luihn and Heidi Sand.

As jewelry artists they each have their artistic distinction. What they have in common is that they like to apply a theme based and conceptual approach to their craft.  Since their debut as a group in 2014 they have had numerous exhibitions both in Norway and abroad.

ARKIVET sets out to investigate, through their individual works, different angles on how jewelry may work as a medium to promote dialogue in society today.  Projects are developed through discussion and research with a common wish to bring jewelry as an artistic expression into contemporary society.  As an example ideological, socialist, capitalist or ecological values may be analysed and processed through jewelry to artistic expression that fosters reflection.

The jewelry materials, artistic idiom and narrative content discusses concepts in the context of site-specific exhibition design.  For each project ARKIVET reaches out to interdisciplinary collaborators such as musicians, writers and philosophers, and ARKIVET also publishes annual publications.

In the WORTHLESS project the group wishes to explore how worth or value is perceived in today’s society.  What makes something valuable? What is worthless?  ARKIVET promotes a visual and mental association space for a discourse about the social and economic mechanisms that govern what is considered valuable.  ARKIVET emphasizes the communicative aspects of jewelry and chooses to reveal something about human dignity, political aspects, self-esteem and the environment.

Heidi Sand’s works are inspired by notepads and paper scribblings and portray glimpses of the thousands of thoughts that humans have every day, among which only a small fraction end up on paper in a semi-permanent form where the thought itself is perhaps as quickly forgotten as the time it takes to jot it down on a piece of paper.  Are these notes outlets for mental cleansing or are they left there in an attempt to memorize?  Work titles like "Was that all?" and "Good for Nothing" may appear as acts of self-critical self-examination.  Sand states the following; “It is the emotional action inherent in the attempt to put your vulnerability into words  – and fail.  The words are without depth. Words without explanation. Words revealing no understanding. Words offering no insight."  When a few of these disjointed scribbles resurface as jewelry – are they then still notes?  Or do they form an anticlimax in their durability, thus defying the digital landscape of today’s society in which we articulate ourselves so easily.  Sand has manipulated the valuable silver material to appear as fragments of paper, as opposed to trompe l'oeil painting which creates an illusion of something more valuable.  Thus she devalues ​​the precious material to simple paper and adds a new and sobering value to what is written.

In contrast Hilde Dramstad’s works use worthless ash and dust as the basic material for narrative works with references to the forgotten and perishable.  A return to what everything will end up being – in unity with the earth and nature where they form the material for new life.  Colours, materials, values ​​and information are mixed into seemingly equal particles where the burned and destroyed remains as the only common denominator.   With her works Dramstad draws parallels to artists who work with volcanic ash, as in her work "Null Island".   But where others have used the ash symbolically Dramstad brings a more tangible approach to the topic and gives the perishable material an opportunity to gain a new coexistence with body and movement  - far beyond its volatile properties.  Although Dramstad’s works may at first glance appear only to paraphrase the memento mori theme,  they are to a greater extent about the fact  that value can be resurrected from what which might seem dead and worthless, and through this embody  a feeling of catharsis and hope. 

The relationship between bold aesthetic effects and political commitment characterises Elsie Ann Hochlin’s works for the WORTHLESS project.  In her  work "Black Lives Matter" she refers to an ongoing conflict with racist undercurrents, and in "Grab Them by the Pussy" she emphasises not just  repression of women, but also misogynistic aspects of society – such as trafficking, child brides, veiling, coercion and total patriarchal control - dark sides of societies where women are reduced to worthless assets without the ability to take ownership of their own lives.  Other works such as "Inheritance" refers to an eyesore in Norwegian history where our indigenous people, the Sami, were subjected to degrading treatment such as cranial measurement, Norwegianisation and loss of rights.  By addressing themes that are rarely associated with jewelry Hochlin lends a political legitimacy to the art form as well as endowing jewelry with a liberating ability to convey thoughts and ideas that encompass more than pure beauty and utilitarian function, through which even the indispensable brooch pin gets a meaning; "The pin appears threatening until safely locked in the back."

Camilla Luihn addresses political and social issues in her works in the WORTHLESS project. With characteristic black humor she exhibits stamps with the text "Rejected", "Refusal" and "Expelled" - portable tools for general rejection, disguised as jewelry.  She exposes her own vulnerability in the series "I Question Your Perception of Air" where she lays bare her personal feeling of powerlessness and invisibility.  Confidence and hubris are replaced with worthlessness ​​and powerlessness.  By exposing weakness and uncertainty of self-worth, she reflects on universal emotions that in today's society are considered as defects that we prefer to hide in our race for happiness and achievement.  In "The Aleppo Piece" Luihn highlights the cruelty of war in an installation consisting of 100 brooches depicting eyes of children in Aleppo.  She has collected images from a war-torn area where the destitute suffer the most and where she lets the children’s gazes speak.   This is a take that lends a human dimension to a conflict that for many in Norway is seen to be mostly about refugee policies and not so much about human dignity and empathy with the suffering of others.

Putte H. Dal formulates her project by dismantling useless and unwanted machines.   Her works in the WORTHLESS project appear on the surface to possess a “back yard” enterprise feeling, much like a Reodor Felgen design from the Norwegian “Flåklypa” movie.  On a deeper level her works present a form of survey of industrial waste such as motors from old, disused sewing machines. Typical for her work is her constellation of found objects, which often refer to society's use and discard mentality.  But where the steampunk movement generally only relates to aesthetic compositions of functions from earlier times, Dal’s work offer another dimension that rises above pure yesteryear nostalgia. The fragmented assemblages not only define the worthlessness of discarded machines and what we think of as junk, but they also relate to instruments for weighing and measuring human value and self-worth.  And with that, she inspires thoughts around what we choose to weigh and measure, whose values we assess on a daily basis and why we measure ourselves against meaningless and unrealistic yardsticks.