That Dangerous Luxury

Seminar Paris College of Art 13 October, 2017



“...nature pursues pleasure, luxury, exuberance, and vertigo just as much as survival. ... The time has come to invoke ‘motives’ that are just as pressing on a universal scale, such as profusion, play, ivresse, and even aesthetics, or at least the need for ornament and decoration.” Roger Caillois, “A New Plea for a Diagonal Science,” The Edge of Surrealism

Jewels are one of the oldest objects of material culture. They signify status and wealth and are the visible focal point in the performance of public rituals of power. But they are also sensual objects associated with adornment and beauty, and with intimate gestures or giving and receiving. In the Language of Fashion  Roland Barthes argues that the gemstone participates in the power of gold, sand its usefulness is entirely self- referential: “it is worn like an idea, that of a terrific power, for it is enough to be seen for its power to be demonstrated.”  It has become secularized, by losing some its “terrible power,” and democratized by being made of variety of materials and being  distributed widely. Contemporary jewellery is a restless field, not content with being considered as applied art or belonging to fashion, its objects constantly re-negotiating their status. They occupy in-between spaces, appear in variety of places, and are in a sense unplaceable.

Image: Suska Mackert