Veronika Fabian - You, me and your stuff

In You, Me and Your Stuff, Veronika Fabian reconstructs important, personal, everyday objects as pieces of jewellery. Part of a wider research project for her MFA thesis, and encompassing not just jewellery but also poetry, music and short stories, she investigates how we express our identity and experience through the objects that are most precious to us. Jewellery, she says, becomes ‘an intermediary between the self and society and a mediator of value and identity.’ Each piece is a visual interpretation of an essential aspect of the owner’s life. The vodka bottles transformed into Drunk Chain represent addiction and deviance; Voulez- Vous recollects the blossoming of childhood independence and the passage into adolescence and the Masquerade’s slices of perfume bottles symbolise the Sisyphean pursuit of perfection and the masks we use to hide of our true selves. The newer work in the exhibition has its genesis in Veronika’s time at Ravary as a Marzee Graduate Show prize winner during the summer of 2019. The bottles of wine drunk round the table became a necklace suffused with memories of shared experiences at the workshop. Continuing the series during lockdown, she has focused her attention on other objects that are the fabric of our shared personal encounters – a coffee with friends or a glass of wine in the evening with loved ones. They are simple but poignant reminders of normal, everyday life that feels very far away right now.

In my project ‘You, me and your stuff’ I am making jewellery by reconstructing everyday objects identified as being important in people’s lives. Investigating the role of artefacts as signifiers of identity and as a potential way through that value can be created and expressed, 60 individuals were asked to name their most essential possessions, which they feel best represent themselves. I condensed the outcome of the survey into an (ongoing) series of necklaces, analysing and reflecting on our material culture. The work visualises the bond we can build with our objects, using jewellery as an intermediary between the self and society and as a mediator of value and identity. Building on the tension between commodity and uniqueness, art and design in contemporary society, the project explores the controversies of everyday life and aims to stimulate a dialogue on the necessity of our things.
The first 5 necklaces were part of my graduation collection exhibited at Het HEM. All these pieces have different meanings, they are all visual interpretations of how people experience everyday life through their objects, on the language of jewellery. The leather belt engraved with diet recipes and nutrition facts focuses on objects’ role in physically shaping the body and serves as an illustration of anxiety, a major element of the identity formation process. The ‘Biker’s necklace’ was made of a motorcycle leather jacket decorated with rally badges, as a depiction of the freedom of individual expression and pride. The ‘Masquerade’ chain made of sliced perfume bottles symbolises a mask of perfection and the Sisyphean job to hide one’s true nature, while the transformed vodka bottle is a representation of addiction and deviance. The Voulez Vous necklace stands as a symbol for blooming childhood independence and the entry into adolescence.

In addition to the pieces, the project expands across mediums, comprising short stories and several musical singles produced in a collaborative project – experimenting with an interdisciplinary approach for intricate biography of the works. The poems serve as portraits to introduce each of the works in more depth. They were written by Kristof Hajos and are mostly fictional but have their foundation in my research.

Other collaborators are: Ambrus Tovishazi (music), Akos Mesterhazy (video editing), Martijn van Ooststroom, Jo Bloxham, J. P. Cardeira and Marilyn Volkman as narrators. The roles they are impersonating are the: the retired motorcyclist, who gives his beloved leather jacket as a present to her granddaughter’s 18th birthday, passing on an important signifier of his identity; the middle-aged woman thinking back on her life; the tipsy chain maker; the diet obsessed girl; the narrator of the boy’s story who spends his first allowance on buying an ABBA vinyl record.

The current pandemic accelerated the process of virtualization, drawing a sharper contrast between the online and offline world. The veil of this locked down existence dulls reality to a level that people crave traditional, good old-fashioned meetings in the flesh. The lightness of the online everydays alienates people and leaves them longing for something more substantial, with more depth and intimacy. The value of offline contacts gains new appreciation, and as personality converts into a scarce alternative, it is increasingly becoming a luxury.
The new works I made continuing the series ‘You, me and your stuff’ for the exhibition at Galerie Marzee, are focusing on artefacts with a role in building and maintaining social relations. I transformed objects which are often associated with shared moments, having a coffee with friends or enjoying a glass of wine in the evening. These pieces are reminding us to the times before and ask the question whether we find the way back to the old or accommodate a new norm.