Helle Bjerrum on the piece of jewellery

The jewellery belongs to my project, solo exhibition and book publishing Status. In 2012 the Arts Foundation bought half of Medaglia (the medals, not the medallions), and one of the ash wooden rings, called Places.

About Status

As the title implies, I have been working with status as a theme. I have approached this theme from a linguistic point of view. The word "status" is used both in terms of estimating material values, and in connection with social standing, prestige, etc. How one achieves a certain status depends on the general convictions and developments of the time, but it also depends on which type of social and geographical area one belongs to.

When I began choosing materials and design, I strived to create a close connection with the theme. That is why you will be able to read something into many of the details of the jewelleries.

The pieces embrace many facets of the theme: Status as a making up of values, status in connection with place and real estate, status as something that is produced and reproduced in culture, and the fact that status traditionally was founded on gendered perceptions.

Medaglia – Two broches, to necklaces and two stencils of silver, silk string and jade pearls. The words "medal" and "medallion" both originate from the Italian "medaglia", which means "little coin". So literally, the medal and the medallion are two sides of the same coin! Traditionally, each side represents each sex, making them symbolic opposites:

Inwards/outwards, feminine/masculine, action/being. Thus, both the medal and the medallion must be regarded as jewelleries that tell us about status. You might say that the medal is "extrovert", because it reflects the wearer’s accomplishments and actions, resulting in honour and glory. I found the source of inspiration in classical military medals; round coins hanging in ribbon. It is possible to wear many medals in a row across the chest. To me, this type of medal expresses strength and masculinity. The sweeping engravings and the coloured ornamental ribbons make up a reference to past ideals of the decorative. In contrast, my depiction is tauter and graphically minimalistic, the only effects being the bright and bleary surfaces. It is a very matter-of-fact piece, clear-cut in its expression. What matters is action – nothing complicated about that.

Title: Medalje
Department: Smykker
Object Number: SKFK-2012-010
Type: Halssmykke
Material: Silver
Place of purchase: Galleri Bærbart, København
Date: 2011

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