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Noovo Editions

Noovo Editions is an independent editorial project with online and paper editions. First of its kind in Spain from an unique and contemporary perspective on the international panorama,
Noovo seeks not only to be an aesthetic arbiter but also a cultural mediator at the juncture between Fashion, Photography & Jewellery.
A platform to show the highest level of creativity from around the world

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Interviews -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

 
-----.INTERVIEW WITH RUUDT PETERS
photo Conor Vella
"Qi" is the latest work of Dutch conceptual jeweler Ruudt Peters, one of the prominent figures in the Art Jewellery scene nowadays. Continuing a long search for various forms of alchemy, Peters found himself in China for three months, exploring the inner alchemy (Qi) of Eastern culture. The resulting exhibition is comprised of blind drawings on stone, either made into wearable pendants and brooches and layered with further drawings constructed of silver or as large stone decorative tablets. It also features porcelain figures, like the clay army of Emperor Jing Di cast from acupuncture model, abstracted with additions of materials such as glass and hair among others, based on his diary of experiences as a Westerner in a foreign land. The outcome is a portrayal of the experiences of a researching, searching artist, and it will present at Galerie Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam from next 14 September 2013 until 26 October 2013.
 

What was the drive to think about the project Qi? and why Qi?
Qi is the force and energy of life. In 2012 I travelled to China to work for three months. The purpose of the trip was to get in touch with Chinese Alchemy. I have been working for long time with Western Alchemy. I knew there was a difference between the Western and Chinese approaches. The Western Alchemy is an outer alchemy (NEIDAN) very much related to minerals from lead to gold. Chinese Alchemy is an inner Alchemy (WEIDAN). The chinese are more interested in our body and health and the search for the elixir of life. Chinese Alchemy is taoism / acupuncture / herbal medicine / Tai Chi / a very holistic view. I became very interested in how the Chinese look at life, it is very different than the way western people do.

photo Rob Versluys

How do the 99 chinese men appears in your work?
During my travels I visited the terracotta army of emperor Jing D in China, similar in many ways to the better known army of China's first emperor, but with figures half as tall and more damaged by the ravages of time. I was struck by the futile efforts to display power and shield a dead ruler. This was not what brought me to this part of the world. Based on what I saw during my stay at the Chinese European Art Centre in Xiamen, I decided to create my own company of men, made from porcelain and based on the Chinese Alchemistic tradition. My starting point was the idealized Chinese acupuncture-man, but I modified the original model to look more like an aging western person (like myself). Before the figures were fired, I visited China again and individualized each figure by altering surfaces and adding or removing segments and details. After returning to my studio in Amsterdam, I worked for six months to attach all sorts of elements made of silver, iron, glass, or horse hair to give each man an individual body and feeling.


photo Rob Versluys

The human faces that emerged from your numerous drawings made during your journey were essential as an initial point to create a jewelry collection of pieces but, could you explain a little bit how is the process of capture these drawings and ideas during this trip to the final pieces?
Before I left for China, I decided to do a blind drawing every day of my trip. The drawings are a kind of emotional logbook reflecting the experiences and emotions I experienced each day. In China I connected with some stone craftsmen who could transfer my drawings into etchings onto stone. When I returned to the Netherlands, I emailed my drawings to China and the craftsmen have engraved them onto bluestone. Afterwards, they emailed me photos of their work. I used their photos as another base for more blind drawings. My assistants and I fabricated the blind drawings in silver and put them on top of the engraved bluestones when they arrived in the Netherlands. Blind images on top of blind images.


How was your experience in China getting ready Qi? How your work and yourself were affected by the fact of exploring the inner alchemy (Qi) of Eastern culture in a complex, foreign land during these months?
In the beginning I was not aware of the difference in my work. I worked like hell in the Chinese European Art Centre and after a while I saw that everything turned out figuratively. In the past, I've had a strong aversion to figurative jewelry and now I was creating it myself. It took me some time to accept that the Chinese Alchemy was leading me to this way of working. I am happy with the strong emotional impact of the work without it becoming too personal. Because of this universal language, the audience can read the message in the work.



Is there anything specific that you feel makes you different from others in your work?
Initially I came to the field because I could relate to the scale and processes of making, but then I walked away completely from the jewellery. For ten years I was making big sculpture, huge ones, like 10 meters. When I finished with that detour I came back to jewellery. It is not because jewellery is most important expression of art, but because jewellery is my laboratory. I am personally able to directly do anything in jewellery. The scale of jewellery gives me the freedom to experiment with my resources, my materials, and my time. It is not to say that every jeweller is inherently making good use of those things. There are many people making very bad jewellery. The problem is that the brains of both the audience and most of the makers shrink to two square millimetres. I think sometimes jewelers are not so smart. They don’t think about the work, they don’t do research, they are simply making. And that is the root of the whole issue of whether or not jewellery is a true artistic medium. We are trained to decorate. And decoration/ornament makes objects that are added to the body without meaning. Students come from other fields; they don’t want to go into the fine arts so they go into crafts where it is acceptable if meaning is not emphasized. They invest themselves in the material, and start making and then its gone. No possibility of meaning. I think those jewellers don’t really understand our own time. To make relevant work you must understand what is happening, you must be able to feel the vibrations of your own time and what you coexist with globally. Out of that understanding you have to make a statement. The statement must be clear and uncompromised by commodification, and that is what most makers do not do. They are concerned with making something that pleases others and the market, which prevents them from ever making anything different.

The audience simply needs to be educated. “Jewellery” can refer to many different things. The problem is not that the term “jewellery” is not specific enough; the problem is that we must educate people to understand that there is something else besides conventional ideas of jewellery, that there is something NOW that is jewellery. If you rename “art jewellery” you disconnect from its history and that is wrong. I am very proud that I am a part of 5000 years of history and that what I am doing now is a direct result of that history.

I am certain that jewellery can be a true artistic medium. In my practice I use the medium as free as possible, as a free artwork, unrestricted by the conventions of the medium or the term “jewellery” itself. My jewellery is wearable and it’s non-wearable and its fragile, but I don’t worry about any of that. If I start to believe that the jewellery must be wearable then I start to believe that the other conventions of the history also apply and suddenly the range of possibilities shrink into two square millimetres. I don’t want that. I make as if the conventions do not exist. I am aware that some of the works are wearable and some are less wearable and some are impossible to wear. I free myself by not letting the restrictions apply to me.

What role does you work play in your life?
When I was 20 I was making work that was mathematically and systematically based. I thought that when I produced work that was stable, I too would be stable. It was very abstract work, but there was no emotional relationship between myself and the object. At a certain moment I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted more from my own relationship with the work. I think it was 1984. I felt compelled to get into the work, I wanted to be a part of it, I wanted the work to represent me, and to be a reflection of my inner life. I still want those things. That pushes religion, sexuality, love, tenderness, hate, ageing and all kinds of aspects of me into the work. When I look back at what I have produced it is with the understanding that the work happens when it is ready to happen; like with Corpus, I could not have made Corpus ten years ago. This would have been totally impossible. It has to do with the freedom I have at this moment to declare I am religious, I am Catholic, which at this moment in time is problematic because of the fear that fundamentalism has created in people. Because it is difficult at this moment in time, I am compelled to make the statement. I just decided that I didn’t want to hide myself anymore. I want to make a statement about whatever issues are important or problematic or sensitive now. I delve in, I do it, and that makes people notice, and be moved. I make the work because I HAVE to. I could wait but then there is something else that pops up and then its over, it loses it potency. So I have to work. You cannot wait to make work, or time will take over and the work will no longer be relevant. I had to learn that. It is like giving birth; there is an urgency to make - to push the thing outside of yourself.

By the way, how did you get started?
When I was a very young boy of 20 years old – I was trained in the making of medical instruments. I made machines and devices to measure the functions of the body. Naturally this work required extreme precision. When I finished the training I was directly offered a job. Looking upon my elder colleagues in the physiological laboratory in Leiden, I saw my whole life before me. I decided I was unwilling to grow old there. I HAD to get away – and it was urgent that I find a way out. Finally I figured out that I wanted to go to art school. I collected brochures from every school in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. It made sense for me to pursue jewellery because in scale and precision it was close to what I had mastered during my training. I decided to go to the Rietveld Acadamie and was accepted.

Could you explain us what is your work about?
Normativity is something that I don’t really think about. I am not interested in working within normative perimeters. I had plenty of cultural norms pressed upon me by my parents. I didn’t fit. They did not fit. Norms are simply a measuring tool to describe how we do not fit, how we are not normal. I am not interested in those kinds of negative limits. Norms are culturally constructed, implemented by parents, pressures to conform, and the only way to make art is to get the fuck out from under the thumb of your father and mother. You must kill their control over you. You must kill societies control over you. It is otherwise impossible to free yourself and to think differently. If you do not do this, you will simply produce what they want you to produce, and that is not art. You must be the only guide of the work, that is the only way to produce anything authentic. Your only true connection to any experience is your own, which may be perceived as strange or unacceptable. But you must stand up for your own thoughts and believe they are legitimate. You must stand behind the work that is produced from them, and that is sometimes difficult. It is never easy to show yourself, to leave yourself open for scrutiny or criticism.

Returning to Qi: For Design Miami/ Basel 2013, Ornamentum premiered "Qi", what is your valuation of your last work official presentation?
The exhibition at Basel Switzerland was a great success, although challenging for the audience to understand the change in my work. I am forcing myself to make big steps. The difficulty in this is that I developed a lot during two years of working and it could be confusing to my audience. It may take more time to understand the steps in my progress.




What are your expectations of your next exhibition at Rob Koudijs gallery?
In Amsterdam at Rob Koudijs I will present the whole group of CUN ZAI (being) 99 porcelain men. Seeing all of the porcelain men and Jewellery together will be a culmination of this body of work. We made a movie trailer about Qi and posted it on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch to introduce the work at Ornamentum, Koudijs and Spektrum. This offers the audience more insight about the background of Qi and completes the communication of the elemental idea in these works. QI is life!


Foto Rob Versluys




More info: http://www.ruudtpeters.nl ----------- http://www.galerierobkoudijs.nl ---------- http://www.ornamentumgallery.com ---------- http://www.galerie-spektrum.de

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