On 24 February OCCUPATION: Artist spent the day at The Dowse Museum staging a series of responses to the adage ‘All that glitters is not gold’.
Using gold-leaf as our principal medium, the O:A artists worked both inside and outside the museum, gilding objects that we would not normally expect to be bathed in the glittery hues of gold leaf.
This intervention is an exercise is opposites: less than 0.1 microns thick, gold leaf is delicate and ephemeral, but now applied to the most durable and functional of architectural elements – the manholes hiding public utility services, the structural beams holding up the museum, and the handrails that keep us safe.
We take these items for granted, looking past them to admire the artworks inside the museum. But, decorating these ordinary and everyday objects makes us wonder, why do we value some objects (necklaces and rings), but not others (the handrails and manholes)?
Perhaps we accidentally ignored objects that are worthy of aesthetic appreciation. A tree’s shifting shadows, now gleaming with gold leaf, are a delight in the ephemeral nature of the here and now.
Gold-leafing objects that will never find their way into a museum challenges our assumptions about value and beauty. Occupation: Artist invites us to rethink contemporary jewellery’s claim on gold’s aesthetic worth. In their gold-leafing station, people brought us their small trinkets for gilding – a shoelace, a head of LEGO-hair, a mobile phone cover.
The decision to gild an ordinary object is a defiant act, one that challenges how we value objects, and contributes to the larger conversation about us, as collectors, artists and humans, and about value, prestige and ornamentation. Why would all that glitters be gold, anyways?
Text by Sondra Bacharach. Images courtesy Elias Rodriguez
For more information, see: http://dowse.org.nz/events/all-that-glitters and http://dowse.org.nz/exhibitions/detail/the-language-of-things