EDITORIAL: ANTI-CAPITALISM REJECTED
TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY INVESTED IN THE STUDY OF THEIR CRAFT IS THE ARTISTS' CAPITAL.
By Loukia Richards
The Anti-fist. Photo by Christoph Ziegler.
Good education, exciting travel, exquisite food, sophisticated sports equipment, rare books, nice clothes, unusual experiences, art, jewelry –objects and experiences that can be bought.
But jewelry is the art medium explicitly connected to wealth. Since antiquity, representatives of the ruling and spiritual classes wore special rings; kings and queens were buried with crowns encrusted with precious gems and other wearable treasures; talismans protected riches from the covetous 'evil eye'. Even when contemporary jewelry challenges the notion of status, it still echoes – and contrasts – the ornament's archetypical function.
Wealth, by definition, is neither ethical nor unethical.
Capitalism is the economic system dominating Western societies for the last four centuries; it is also euphemistically referred to as 'the market'. It has shown remarkable resilience, though not necessarily fairness. Nevertheless, this school of thought produces wealth; the distribution of wealth to broader segments of society can cement and promote democracy more than an economy guided by a small unelected elite.
Being 'anti-capitalist' as a jewelry artist – the latest trend – is like shooting yourself in the foot. Communism never cared for jewelry and never had any use for ornaments or spirituality, another ancient heritage of jewelry.
Loukia Richards in wealthy and charming Munich. Photo: Chr. Ziegler.
The explosion in crafts was triggered by increased demand for comfort and luxury by the financially robust class of merchants, freelancers, intellectuals, bankers: the bourgeoisie that made its breakthrough in 17th-century Europe and imposed its taste as it changed the rules of the game. The ranks of the aristocracy and the Church had never been sufficiently numerous to absorb artists' and crafters' production and artists often had to wait a long time to be paid by the oligarchy – if they were paid at all. The new art-loving class, the middle class, ordered, bought, and paid – in cash.
Today contemporary jewelry's most loyal customers are under attack: inflation, high taxation, high interest rates, looming unemployment even in highly sophisticated sectors, lockdown-related bankruptcies of small and medium enterprises, international instability due to the war in Ukraine, and luxury goods' competition from technology products have affected them financially and emotionally.
What is the contemporary jewelry community's answer to this depressing situation? Anticapitalism...
Academics and jewelry theorists who rail against the markets and inculcate students to detest the market may not know how to explain its potential to young designers. The latter have invested time, energy, and money to study a craft – this is their capital. They should not neglect or negate it; on the contrary, they should reject mind-controlling and life-impoverishing ideologies and use their capital creatively to design their own professional success.