Su san Cohn
7th March – 5th April 2008
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Water, oil, blood, air and waste: the materials featured by jeweller Susan Cohn in second thoughts. Amongst the items of waste are materials that have lain around Cohn’s workshop leftovers from previous jewellery lines, newly resurrected.
The use of such materials facilitates the artist’s exploration of the meaning of precious in a culture critically concerned with dwindling resources and the modification of the environment. The question is raised: how may the critical reality of what is newly rare and vulnerable in our society be translated into an emotional motif as with gold or diamonds? Cohn introduces the sash as the form of adornment by which the New Precious may be kept close and integrated across the discourses of everyday life. The appearance of the sash reminds us that beauty, too, is a precious commodity. For Cohn, interrogations of the cultural ideals of beauty and preciousness provide the modus operandi by which she reflects critically on her own craft and on contemporary jewellery. The restrained scale of the exhibition, as well as the return to traditional and ethnic ideas of craftsmanship, create a sense of apprehension in the work. This is only resolved by the expression of ideas that point at a new approach to jewellery-making: the accent lies on the ways in which jewellery is lived and preciousness comes into focus.
The rehabilitation of beauty as a focal issue, and the use of beauty to enhance rather than obstruct the meaning in Cohn’s second thoughts provoke renewed thinking on the relationship between beauty and insight in contemporary craft.