Initially perceived as a “poor”, anti-establishment material, plastic now takes on different roles.
“This material is part of the DNA of contemporary jewelry, and has a metaphorical side,” says Céline Robin, exhibition curator at the Mazlo gallery. In the Sixties Pop Art movement, it was first used to condemn the consumer society.” Even today, it is provocative, critical and challenging. In Dutch designer Christel van der Laan’s “Priceless” collection, it questions the notion of preciousness. Meanwhile, by cutting credit cards into geometric shapes, Korean designer Sungho Cho highlights the emptiness of society’s values, traceability and the loss of individual freedom, when everything is registered, listed and recorded.
But it is not only a poor and critical material; it is also used in the composition of narrative jewelry, like the dioramas of Dutch designer Iris Nieuwenburg, made with plastic components from dolls’ houses. One of Bob Ebendorf’s iconic pieces, the “On The Beach” necklace, consists of a chaotic assortment of objects found when striding the seashore with his daughter. Labels, packaging, toothbrushes, biros, combs and Barbie shoes now bring back a flood of memories linked with those special moments.
With Fabiana Gadano, Christel van der Laan and Charity Ridpath, plastic is an endless source of beauty: cut into threads, pleated like fabric, twisted or worked in multilayers, it can produce incredible effects of light, like a hologram. Through play on scale, repetitions and duplicated details, the recycled plastics found by Karin Roy Andersson are transformed into marvels, as are yoghurt containers by Vietnamese designer Sam Tho Duong. In his “lemitcA” collection (the yoghurt brand’s name spelt backwards), they are transformed into gigantic neo-tribal finery or medieval ruffs. Truly stunning.
Fabiana Gadano and Karin Roy Andersson are at the Elsa Vanier gallery