Maker, Wearer, Viewer, Object: the reflexive destabilisation of brooches in a contemporary jewellery making practice
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This project examines the social structure of brooches through the lens of my own practice considered in dialogue with writing both within and without the field of jewellery making.
Sociologist Georg Simmel proposed that the structure of jewellery is composed of the Wearer and Viewer interaction. Jeweller and author Bruce Metcalf argued that the Maker plays a major role in addition to the Wearer and Viewer. However, I posit that the Object is of greater relevance than the Maker, Wearer, or Viewer and advocate that the four categories should be considered as a mutually interdependent structure.
This project explores the ramifications of this quadruple structure through the creation of a series of reflexive brooches that seek to expose the normative structure of brooch usage through its reflexive destabilization and questioning. I contend that the current utilitarian rationales for the craft object, into which jewellery is often readily subsumed, remain largely unexamined, as does the location of jewellery within this field.
By examining brooches as codified object (after sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of habitus) I engaged with the social Maker, Wearer, and Viewer structures. Through Bourdieusian social categorization, I was able to activate my practice through inquiry. I then looked to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s language-games and grammatical subversion as a model to fully explore Object as facilitator.
This research is intended to be transferrable - it is my intention that other researchers can deploy similar methods, as American jewellery remains largely unexamined by means of practice-based research.