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Uncut Gems

Incubated within the pressurised depths of the Earth and birthed with no fixed form, gemstones are characterised by their tremendous superpowers, dazzling shine and the animistic beliefs ascribed to them. Each gemstone, natural or synthetic, is defined by its superstitions, (hi)stories and unique elemental formula. And let’s be honest – whether it is for its spiritual, personal or financial value – we all crave that mineral.

For the first time in eons, a new family of gems is erupting from the crust of the Earth. These gems are like nothing we have seen before: gooey, gleaming, glistening, alienating, critical, ancient, futuristic, digital and bursting with talent. Meet the Gem Zs: a group of eight talented, young makers and kindred spirits on a collective journey through the contemporary jewellery cosmos.

After their period of metamorphosis within the protective caves of art and design academies worldwide, it is time for these gems to reveal their shiny surfaces to the light of day. Unlike the mechanised mining industry, we do not wish to crack open these precious ‘uncut gems’ all at once. We wish for you to treasure them, to allow them time to get accustomed to the blinding lights of the outside world. We hope you will keep a twinkling eye on them as they develop their facets and polish their surfaces.

Gem Z is a year-long talent accelerator program initiated by Current Obsession that offers a group of talented makers from the field of jewellery the chance to (un)learn, explore and develop their voices and practices collectively. The main goal of the Gem Z program is to foster relationships between young creatives, cultural institutions and the industry.

Text by Joannette van der Veer
WORKS IN PROGRESS is made possible by the generous support of Gilda Block. Additional support is provided by the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation.

Born from sizzling hot wax poured into water, this ​Alien Baby​ by Danielle Karlikoff is as evolutionary and out-of-this-world as its title and craggy surface suggests. The wax sculpture that emerged from the water bath was cast in gleaming silver and bedazzled with acrylics, pearl and matrix opal ​– ​ the first and last birth of an alien-baby-machine of its kind. Together with the slime-pod bed it rests on, Danielle’s ​Alien Baby​ reminds us of a future that is gooey, slimy, gleaming and edgy all at once.

Danielle Karlikoff | Alien Baby + Pod

What a peculiar world we live in today, with so many materials, resources, (digital) distractions and remnants of things yet undiscovered and ripe for reimagining. A bricolage of familiar and unfamiliar raw elements is molded into one blob we call a lifetime. From this blob arises a character that captures the non-linear spirit of Simon Marsiglia’s work. His journey is oddly and eerily visualised as one amorphous Shapeshifter, a time-bending human-jewel-landscape hybrid that exists simultaneously in the past, present and future.

Dazzled by the paradoxes and sensational events of our present time, we often look outward for guidance. Siobhan Wallace’s work is instead oriented inwards, utilising genetic and biological data to express the intricacies of exploring one’s cultural identity. Her ​1% British​ ring displays her '1% Britishness' as mined from her own biological dataset, and is as poignant as ever in the current sociopolitical climate and within the lived experiences of many. By making use of the accessible aesthetics of name plate jewellery, Siobhan speculates on what aspects of ourselves we choose to display. There is much more to us than meets the eye.

Siobhan Wallace | 1% British Ring and Genome Rope Chain

How else can we reimagine what we already know? Drawing inspiration from undersea creatures, microscopic views and other organic phenomena, Loki Dolor creates detailed wearable face garments that oscillate between the natural and supernatural. With this ​Self Portrait – ​ formed in shiny silicone – Loki Dolor captures a fluid moment in time where liquid transforms into solid, and vice versa. By looking very closely at the organisms and natural phenomena that surround, inhabit, and transcend us, we may discover new fractal forms, hybrid shapes or even more breath-taking gems…

From the mountains of England, we move to the hills surrounding the city of Bogotá, Colombia. Colombia’s violent history and internal conflicts has caused millions of Colombians to be brutally displaced. In search of safety and a better future, many displaced citizens migrated to urban areas causing informal settlements to proliferate on the cities’ peripheries - as is the case in the hills of Bogotá. The Houses on the Hill is a triangle-shaped textile earpiece created by Rawmisky that questions and reflects upon this harsh reality and duality of the socioeconomic fabric Bogotá is made of.

Now, shifting our focus from futuristic speculations to ancient mythology, we encounter two sublime human creations that seem to have been directly carved from history. Making use of prehistoric casting techniques, Emmie Ray Hubbard philosophises about the start ​– ​ and possible end ​– ​ of humanity. Echoing Norse history and mythology, ​Elm to Ash​ is made of bronze and burnt ash wood charcoal and tells us the myth of Ash and Elm (Ask and Embla). Their shapes were cast in bronze from molds made out of clay foraged from Mam Tor (Mother Hill) and were formed into one of the most powerful and precious tools of human connection: pencils.

Anticipation of a more prosperous future relies upon our ability to view evidence of the past, fully perceive the present and envision how the future could deviate. The ​Warped​ series by Dovile Bernadisiute envisions the future as a time past, specifically as a version of the early 2000s. The shimmering, bling-blingy aesthetics of the Y2K era are reflected in Dovile’s chosen materials: the lenses of a vintage eyewear and crushed aluminum insulation. Made strong through compression and manipulation, the brittle aluminum demonstrates the impermanence of each era’s technological advancements and visions of the future.

But what if your visions of the past, future and present deviate not only from the laws of chronology, but also from the heteronormative standards perpetuated by society? We need more unique narratives carved from alternative paths, to propose queer futures that are not haunted by the past, but instead guided by a future unknown. Hansel Tai envisions a futuristic jewellery-based communication system, where alienation is the goal. In his ​Nude Jade Pierced​ series Hansel’s use of holy jade, surgical steel and rubber evoke feelings of both harshness and sensitivity and lay bare the splendid contradictions of a queered apocalyptic future.

THE ARTISTS

Danielle Karlikoff

Danielle Karlikoff is an object and experience maker based in Sydney, Australia. Each of DK’s decadent creations appear to have emerged from some mysterious set of jewellery-producing petri dishes: oozing mysterious Day-Glo .…

Dovilė Bernadišiūtė

Dovilė Bernadišiūtė is a Lithuanian jewellery artist living and working in Stockholm. Dovilė’s practice reflects on transition through time and space, utilising casting and ‘imprinting’ methods to link the wearer to their particular…

Emmie Ray Hubbard

Emmie Ray Hubbard is a British artist working between London and the Peak District. She works in collaboration with archaeologists and craftsmen to rediscover historic craft techniques. Her work calls for a resounding…

Rawmisky

Fernanda Forero is a Colombian artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York City under the pseudonym Rawmisky. Fernanda took a non-traditional path to jewellery-making, coming to it through her interests in…

Hansel Tai

Hansel Tai is a Chinese-born artist and designer working and residing in Estonia. Hansel’s work focuses on queer culture in the Post-internet Epoch, in which the natural is shadowed by the body cult, subcultural signs and high…

Loki Dolor

Loki Dolor is an adornment artist currently based in Paris. Loki’s body adornments are truly transformative, acting as a prosthetic or secondary appendage. Their physical adornments appear weightless, growing out of their…

Simon Marsiglia

Simon Marsiglia is an Amsterdam-based Swedish maker of contemporary adornments of all shapes and forms. It is impossible, no, irrelevant, to attempt to describe Simon’s creations through the singular lens of jewellery, sculpture or …

Siobhan Wallace

Siobhan Wallace is a London-based jewellery artist specialising in displaying biological data through recognisable jewellery tropes. Inspired by her Nan’s personal jewellery collection, she utilises her own biological data to create…

Joannette van der Veer

Joannette van der Veer is a curator, writer, editor and project manager: a true post-digital Renaissance woman. Her practice within the arts and culture fields can be best described as hybrid. Curiosity, criticism, collaboration and…

Special Thanks to

Tobias Groot

Tobias Groot is a Berlin-based artist working with photography, video and computer-generated imagery. Tobias’ digital conglomerations contend with artificial intelligence and humans’ fleshy embodied experience…

Curated by

Current Obsession

Current Obsession (CO) is a jewellery magazine and platform based in the Netherlands. Appreciated for its experimental approach and unconventional style, it showcases new ways of presenting and experiencing jewellery…