« I am an Other »
The sixth exhibit of Israeli jewelry deals with the perception of « the other self, » or the alter ego. Fifty-three artists participating in the exhibit set out on an inner journey, the process resulting in diverse expressions: virtuosic jewelry-makers who are usually meticulous in their work chose to free themselves of the constraints and make room for expression ; some used organic materials; some turned to figurative creation, thus giving the human form an expression of « the other self, » while other artists chose the abstract to convey biographical moments. Some preferred the multitude so as not to focus the idea of « the other self » on a single item, while others preferred simplification and catharsis. It appears that the majority of Israeli jewelry-makers do not wear the jewelry they create, and some wear no jewelry at all. For this exhibit they created jewelry for themselves.
« The selection of an abstract concept for this exhibition – Alter Ego (the Self as Other) — generated an extensive and riveting dialogue with participating artists. The process that resulted engendered layered and varied works that reflect the multi-faceted nature of this concept. The underlying premise the artists were invited to consider was the notion that the ornamental artifact — an intimate object placed directly on the body — can represent parts of the Self, including its inverse or hidden elements. The ornament also draws the gaze of others; the visual cues it offers subtly influence other forms of communication.
The roots of the term alter ego come from ancient Greek philosophy. When Zeno of Cittium, founder of the Stoic school of Greek Philosophy, was asked, “what is a friend?” he responded: “allos ego,” that is, alter ego. In a similar vein, Aristotle suggested that a friend should be treated like a second self. Over time, the word ego came to mean “I” in Latin. In the modern era, Sigmund Freud extended the word’s meaning when he defined it as a central element of the psyche. The alter ego has been seen by psychology mainly as the inversion of the way the Self normally presents itself publicly. But the notion remains vague and elusive.
The alter ego has many cultural expressions: in pop and rock music, where artists embody fictional figures through which they can present new and experimental musical content; in the world of Comics, where an everyday person turns into a superhero; in literature that deals with two sets of personalities within a single person, and more. Philosophers discussed the alter ego in the context of reciprocal relations, and as part of the effort to understand the Self. As it turns out, scientists have found that a “mirror neuron network” in the brain allows us to experience the Other’s gestures as though they were our own, so that observing others is an inseparable element of self-understanding.
After they were introduced to the varied cultural manifestations of the alter ego, the jewelry makers were invited to design a jewel that would reflect their own alter ego. Some artists chose to shed the rigid discipline that characterizes their virtuoso work, and allowed chance to influence the artifact, suggesting an alter ego that is out of control; others chose a figurative image of a face or person meant to convey a miniaturized Self, or created prostheses and additions to the face, embodying aspects of the self that go unexpressed in daily life; several chose animals to convey the complex relation with the Other – an ally or a distant and threatening figure. Others chose images suggesting motion, such as boats representing sailing from the exterior inwardly and vice versa. Some artists worked with abstract forms generated from a clear, personal context, forms that permitted a different self to momentarily show through; others worked with round shapes that express the Yin Yang principle and with it the notion that we must harmonize the contradictory elements of the self. Finally, several artists related to the written word or a writing implement as a way to represent either the Self or the alter ego.
It seems that the exhibition highlights the fact that jewel-craft – a realm of intricate detail – spans a great deal of conceptual space. Jewelers contract entire worlds into physical artifacts measured in centimeters, but the variety of responses engendered in the vast arena surrounding a single idea is near infinite. » Nirith Nelson, Curator
The participating artists are: Merav Oster-Roth — Michal Oren — Bianca Eshel Gershuni — Ela Bauer — Vered Babai — Jakob Bloch — Shirly Bar-Amotz — Naama Bergman — Tal Gur — Lena Dubinsky — Nirit Dekel — Edda Vardimon Gudnason — Noga Hadad — Dana Hakim — Attai Chen — Doron Taubenfeld — Micha Yehieli – Shachar Cohen — Tehila Levi Hyndman — Hadas Levin — Gregory Larin — Leonie Philpot — Einat Primo — Gad Charny — Yaacov Kaufman — Ilan Korren — Vered Kaminski — Esther Knobel — Doron Rabina — Reddish (Naama Steinbock & Idan Friedman) — Galya Rosenfeld — Kobi Roth — Ifia Rousak — Sivan Shoshan — Deganit Stern Schocken
Tehila Levi Hindman – Subala
Shirly Bar-Amotz, Wheat
Bianca Eshel-Gershuni – Earring, ca. 1980 – Shell, aluminum foil, feathers, metal, glass beads
Deganit Stern Schocken – Body piece, 1993 – Nickel silver, stainless steel, silver, paper, shell
Michal Oren – on the contrary (from the series “thinking about places”) : 2009 / oxidized silver