Saturday, February 14, 2009

“The Thinking Body” at San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design


Pas de Trois

by emiko oye

(this exhibition took place in 2008)

“The Thinking Body” exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design is a meditation on the impressions we make on the world, and the physical spaces that our bodies create and occupy.

In many of the artworks, such as jewelry pieces, a body is necessary to complete the work. In other pieces, imprints or casts of body parts, even human hair, are incorporated into the work. 

The interaction of the body with the art, and the mark of the maker’s hands, are integral to these particular art works.

Jewelry is an example of art that is intended to adorn the body. It requires interaction between the body and the art piece. 

Jewelry artist emiko oye actually invites museum-goers to try on her interpretations of legendary fine jewelry pieces from Boucheron, Cartier and Harry Winston. 

Instead of the precious and exclusive nature of the original pieces, oye’s  “royal jewels” are fun, oversized, clunky, and made out of LEGOs

The artist invites the public to transform, and be transformed, by wearing the pieces. The be-LEGOed and bejeweled art patrons are encouraged to create their own art, by posing for photos of themselves wearing the jewelry. The photos are uploaded to the museum’s web site, to create yet another layer of interactivity.


Gerd Rothman

photo from San Jose Mercury News

Gerd Rothman’s unusual jewelry pieces include a pewter cast of an armpit, which is a surprisingly delicate and leaf-like shape, and a gorgeous gold cuff bracelet with the deep impressions of fingers as a decorative motif.

Departing from adornment, we move into the concept of spaces occupied by and affected by the body.

Here is Nick Dong’s “The Enlightenment Room,” a meditation environment lined with mirrors and white porcelain tiles.  

Sitting in meditation upon a cushioned seat activates a shower of lights, sound and vibration. 

The sounds and vibrations are reminiscent of jet engines in the echoing chamber, and it’s like being on a spacecraft that’s just lifting off.

It’s the perfect metaphor for life’s journey in the body-vessel, traveling through time and space. 

We emerge from meditation in the same place, but transformed by art that has penetrated through the body to the cellular level, and perhaps other levels as well.

We art lovers, who are usually kept at a distance from the art, and told “hands off,” are being asked to literally embody the art. 

We change and activate the art.