Blowing Truths: A special review on Joya Barcelona 2019

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I recently went to hospital to take a test for lactose intolerance.

A four-hour test, which consisted of blowing into plastic bags every 30 minutes, after drinking a liquid substance that was as sweet as it was nauseating writes Ilaria Ruggiero.

The bags were unfortunately not exciting and fun like those of Christine Jalio who, with intelligence and irony, invites us to expel the daily frustrations of which we are victims, blowing into them, to lighten and in some way to exhale an inner saturation that is wearing us out.

Provocative, pop, effective.

Compared to the other arts, the peculiarity of the art of jewellery is that it deals with physical and bodily practices and actions in a manner that is direct, performative and dynamic.

So it also relates to everyday, social and shared actions, where the living body thus becomes a body made up of common, collective and, as such, political actions.

Among the artists selected in this year's Joya edition, some emerge by language, by politically and socially engaged content, and by an ideological charge.

Into Niilo dissects the body and embellishes some parts, playing with elements such as teeth, idealizing shape, disambiguating and surrealistically overturning meaning. Deniz Turan also frames bodily elements as if they were x-rays, distant and evanescent signs, creating a poetics of intimacy and loss.

Denis Music and Xiangyan Shi use mass iconography to raise deep questions related to consumption, identity, authorship and relationships with others. The first, the offspring of a raw Soviet aesthetic, presents a still life made of icons reminiscent of the gears of a machine, provocatively asking what is the role of the creator today, between freedom, replication and automation.

Xiangyan Shi investigates the relationship between the digital and the real world, using the iconography of social media to express, with sarcastic and grotesque taste, the impoverishment of human relationships.

Nanna Obel, in my opinion one of the most interesting exhibitors of this edition, raises issues related to current events, customs and society in a provocative and ironic way. Differing planes of reading, structured and recognizable linguistic codes, a deep dynamism and narrative ability, give her pieces perfect balance and innovative charge.

Returning to the colourful bags of Christine Jalio, full of life, but very light: probably every creative action is characterized by throwing out, letting go, releasing, giving voice and shape.

An action often induced by a spontaneous and unconscious movement, but then destined to speak of profound truths.*


Image Credits

  1. Christine Jalio, Blow Me, Cellophane, rubber, silver, bicycle vent
  2. Nanna Obel, A Disease Worse Than…
  3. Nanna Obel, Have a Heart
  4. Denis Music, Copy 001, COPYism, silver resin
  5. Deniz Turan, don't touch!, necklace, deep inside of me radiography, shrinker, plastic, paper, glue, oxidized sterling silver, thread, ink
  6. Into Niilo, [male nipple [pierced]] brooch, precious parts, silver, gold plated silver
  7. Into Niilo, Baroque pearl [molar tooth with a dental crown] stud earring, precious parts, yellow gold, carved baroque pearl
  8. Xiangyin Shi, Friends, Digital Communication Jewelry, Sterling Silver, Copper, Found Objects, Resin, Wood, Acrylic Paint, Acrylic Sheet

* Kindly reposted with permission from the official catalogue of JOYA Barcelona Art Jewellery & Objects.

About the Contributing Writer

Ilaria Ruggiero is a cultural manager and curator working in the field of contemporary art. She is the founder of Adornment - Curating Contemporary Art Jewelry, a curatorial integrated project dedicated to contemporary art jewelry. It aims to develop the knowledge and consciousness of contemporary jewelry as artistic discipline and as ground search for technique, aesthetics, and philosophy.


Ilaria Ruggiero


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