Coming up in March, Handshake 3 has two seperate exhibitions running during Munich Jewellery week. The first show cases existing work (although in my case I am developing a few more pieces) which has been curated by Liesbeth den Besten, Sofia Björkman and Peter Deckers; and the second calls for new work, responding to the unfolding collaborative project with London based group Dialogue Collective.
Given that I have been involved in the coordination of the second show, I thought it might be pertinent to describe a little bit more about the whole undertaking in the lead up to our opening.
Handshake meets Dialogue collective (or Dialogue Collective meets Handshake as it is also called) is the product of a conversation that took place at MJW a few years ago, a fitting juncture for both the departure and culmination of this whole collusion.
In the full lineup of HS3 shows this project was the only one that was voluntary, and from the start we could all see that it was an ambitious undertaking. Collaborators collaborating with collaborators – where to even start? The whole idea was discussed at much length during JEWELcamp (in our masterclass with Hilde de Dekers), and we walked out feeling slightly discombobulated but excited none the less.
The challenge was, from the outset, a tricky one. How do two groups, from opposite ends of the globe, most of whom have never met, whose individuals have a diverse range of work, collaborate together to create a show? The first and primary task was to find common ground, and for those who chose to continue on things kicked off in early April 2016.
A series of digital exchanges between the two groups ensued. Like a game, each match was designed with specific rules and timeframe, the ultimate goal being getting to know one another a little better. Images, words and videos were all part of material at play, and slowly but surely things began to take shape, albeit in a chaotic way (as you would expect with 20 or so individual perspectives):
‘Through exchanging images and thoughts recorded at set times of the day, the participants began to share their daily lives in different places.’
Instead of answers, what we often found was more questions:
‘Bucolic scenes from New Zealand to the cityscapes of London. Can modern communication overcome the distance and bring the groups together? Are online conversations as clear-cut as in real life (IRL) discussions?’
This question had it’s own reverberations within Handshake, since we are already geographically diverse and have no option but to hold our meetings via skype. Are we missing out on some of the fun (beer, nibbles, magnets and bathtubs) that DC get to have within their collective?
Eventually, through the brainstorms and email chains, a proposal emerged – something altogether different from other HS projects to date. We had come to a concept for the presentation of exhibition and were to work backwards from there, reflecting on the process of the project to date and the format of our chosen display. No small task, and one that is keeping us busy to date:
‘This social collaboration becomes jewellery as the two groups display their work together under one roof. A communal washing line is strung up between the two sides. The work is hung out to air. Everything is on view. Finally face-to-face the neighbours come together. Can they iron out the differences? Whatever happens, it will all come out in the wash.‘