Berlin Mitte is one of the most popular addresses for creative people and their agents. The new and traditional heart of the city is not only a magnet for visitors from all over the world, it is also a fruitful soil for unusual concepts, pioneers and avant garde.
Jewelry designers also find an interested audience for their work between young fashion labels and art galleries. Gallery Oona in Auguststrasse has been active at this site for three years – one of the world’s few jewelry galleries that is not run by a goldsmith. The gallery owner Anna Schetelich studied cultural sciences and worked for several museums organizing exhibitions: Grouping objects in a contextual setting and conveying a message on this stage is the main focus of her thoughts. It is therefore hardly surprising that she considers her gallery to be a stage and an interface between the maker and the wearer.
Gallery as a stage
You won’t find any jewelry behind glass at Oona. There are no showcases – the jewelry is presented on suspended, round tables, swings in air bubbles from the ceiling or perches proud in flower pots. Visitors are encouraged to touch the creations and to try them out. Colored, smaller objects made of plastic and collages consisting of the most varied of materials await visitors. Moreover, the manner in which the jewelry is intended to be worn is in some cases quite mysterious. Finding this out is quite a treasure hunt, as many exhibits are initially more reminiscent of colorful toys than of precious gems. Experimentation and tactile discovery reduce our inhibitions and create sensual experience. The work makes communication easier, discussions arise and laughter spreads.
In her exhibitions, Anna Schetelich enjoys working with artists who succeed in making a contemporary statement with modern materials. Indeed, the location between galleries for photography, painting and sculpture shows that jewelry is part of a continuum here and that colors or structures, for example, may well reveal parallels to other disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach is also the most important criterion to be invited to one of the 6 coveted annual exhibitions at Galerie Oona. They often take the form of topical presentations and joint exhibitions that provide a clear and illuminated view of the world.
Price conscious and confident
In view of the fact that relatively few of the pieces are made of expensive precious metals, affordable prices also attract a younger audience looking to buy their way into the world of contemporary jewelry if they find something they like and to find something to suit their outfits. Most visitors to the gallery are women, looking for an unusual item of jewelry or a gift for their adolescent daughters. These customers carry their jewelry out into everyday life with pleasure and confidence. There are often exciting discussions on accustomed appearances and new perspectives in jewelry if couples visit the gallery. It appears that men feel more provoked by irony or the unusual appearances of their partners’ new accessories. Anna Schetelich is most pleased to note that the number of discerning consumers able to unravel the new jewelry is growing and that they are beginning to develop a sense that there will always be new methods in jewelry design. Asked about the future of jewelry design, she prophesies that there will be fewer experimental and taboo-breaking pieces and more “decorative jewelry” that can be embodied and solid, but which is based on a clear concept in terms of content. In addition, she believes that there will be exciting developments in a more or less serious discussion on and about jewelry, and she looks forward to fueling this debate with argument through her exhibitions.
There are plans to link jewelry and fashion once more in 2004: Christian Hoedl tests the boundaries between accessories, costume jewelry and jewelry and will present the results in a fashion show in March. Other projects include a joint venture between Lisa Walker from Australia and the Berlin-based women’s group “Chicks on speed”, which combines music, film and fashion (May 2004), and an exhibition with the Berlin-based jewelry designer Svenja John in September.
by Barbara Schmidt