WE NEED HIGH-QUALITY EXHIBITIONS
OLGA ZOBEL / GALERIE BIRÓ ON HOW TO MAKE SCHMUCK NUMBER ONE (AGAIN)
Interview by Christoph Ziegler
Galerie Biró, exhibition view. Photo: Galerie Biró
CZ: What opportunities do you see emerging for the jewelry scene from the Covid-19 crisis?
OZ: The pandemic acts as an accelerator that reveals the rapidly increasing chaos and flood of images dominating the jewelry scene. The name 'Schmuck' is not copyrighted; and 'lower quality' works are often shown online under the brand name of the fair. Gallery work has never been as important as it is nowadays. I think that only good exhibitions can make the scene find peace. Rather, we need good conversations in smaller groups than big events. Here I see the need for good galleries that can - and should - promote quality and consult customers professionally. This is the work a gallery does.
CZ: What can artists, gallerists, institutions, and the press do to promote jewelry art to the broader public?
Peter Chang. Courtesy of Galerie Biró
OZ: There is a lot to be done. Many potential young customers don't know yet what author jewelry is. How does one recognize quality? We need international networks with museums, foundations, galleries, and the press. I repeat once more: we need high-quality exhibitions.
CZ: Did you hold an online exhibition during the Covid-19 crisis?
OZ: Jewelry art is different from sculpture and painting. Jewelry has to do with movement, with the body; it is a medium you can touch! Jewelry gives you a feeling that has to do with the quality of life. Jewelry can improve it.
At a fair, we see the pieces and can almost touch them. It is difficult to do the same when we see them on the screen. It is questionable whether an online fair can find a solution to this problem. The group dynamic is missing; there is no ambience we share, no vibes. Jewelry has to be tried on. We communicated online with many of our collecting customers in December. It only worked for them, though, because they are familiar with author jewelry. In this coming together, communication was the important factor.
CZ: How would you respond to criticism that jewelry art is overpriced and overpraised, and that supply exceeds demand?
Wilfried Petzi exhibition view. Photo by Galerie Biró
OZ: I agree that supply exceeds demand. However, I see the problem in the supply. Lacking standards and lacking quality are dominant here. Author jewelry can never be overpriced. Good work has its price in all art genres. Only widespread mediocracy harms the scene.
CZ: An art-loving customer with a 1,000-euro budget can choose from an ample variety of art genres and periods. How would you advise a customer to choose a contemporary jewelry artist?
OZ: We collaborate with well-known international artists with works in museums and important collections. The price of a one-off artwork is always higher than 1,000 euros. We don't have to convince anybody to buy it. I am concerned with the question of how we address young people who have not visited jewelry galleries yet. Collections that we have helped to build have slowly closed. This is the biggest challenge for a gallery that guarantees quality. Maybe the media could help? Or should we continue working, like in the old days, through personal contacts?
Times change; humans not so much!