studio glorious studio


Shelton Walsmith hosting visitors in his studio in Brooklyn, as photographed by Evan Sung

I have just been reading From Studio to Situation edited by Claire Doherty. Daniel Buren’s essay, “The Function of the Studio” made me think about the difference between the painting and jewellery which would be called “closest to its own reality“. This essay makes many points which are relevant to both mediums, but highlights the fact that for centuries jewellery, being incomplete without the body, has flirted with the risky proposition of relinquishing control to the ‘wearer’ . It seems that jewellery’s meaning is much more malleable in the hands of the wearer, than a painting’s concept is as in the hands of the owner/interior decorator. And for me that interaction and risk is what makes contemporary jewellery so exciting.

Here is what Buren has to say (p17):

The studio, the first frame of the work, is in fact a filter which will serve a double selection, first of all the artist’s, away from the eyes of others, and second, that of exhibition organisers and art dealers, so as to be seen by others. Immediately evident is that the work thus produced passes-in order to exist-from one refuge to another. Therefore, it needs to be at least transportable and, if possible, manipulable without too many restrictions for the person (other than the artist himself) who will adopt the right to remove it from the first (original) place, to allow it to access the second (promotional) place. Therefore as it is produced in the studio, the work can only be conceived as an object to be manipulated indefinitely an by whomever, in order for this to occur, and from the moment it is produced in the studio, the work is isolated from the real world. Meanwhile, it is at that very moment, and only at that moment, that it is closest to its own reality. The work will subsequently not stop to distance itself from this reality, and even sometimes borrow another reality unanticipated by anyone, including the artist by whom it was created. This reality can even be totally contradictory to the work itself, and usually serves mercantile benefits as well as the dominant ideology. Hence it is when the work is in the studio, and only at this moment, that it is in its place. This leads to a moral contradiction for the work of art, which it will never overcome, as its end implies a devitalizing displacement as to its own reality, as to its origin. If, on the other hand, the work remaining in this reality – the studio- it is the artist who is at risk… of starvation!

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