David Bielander

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander
© BAK / Gina Folly

David Bielander, Lips, brooch, rubber jar seal, steel, 1999 © the author. Photo © Simon Bielander
© David Bielander

David Bielander, Cardboard (Watch), bracelet, gold, 2015 © the author. Photo © Dirk Eisel
© David Bielander

David Bielander, Thonet 01 (Wienerle), necklace, bentwood, 1999 © the author. Photo © Dirk Eisel
© David Bielander

David Bielander, 1968

Artist and jewellery designer, Munich

David Bielander (born 1968) develops intriguing jewellery pieces that defy user expectations and push the limits of what an ornament can be. Following apprenticeships in Basel and Schwäbisch Gmünd, Bielander enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he studied under professor Otto Künzli. He has since developed an unconventional, self-lead path where experimentation abounds, precious materials are subverted and pushed to the limit, and the user is intentionally pushed out of his comfort zone. Bielander lives and works in Munich, and his work has been shown in galleries and museums around the world.

The Confederation grants Bielander a Swiss Grand Award for Design in recognition of unconventional point of view and his critical method, which yield unconventional and striking results that set him at the forefront of international jewellery design. Prior to the Grand Award, Bielander has won the Swiss Design Award in 2012.

Essay

David Bielander : A Jewellery Aficionado

Nature has several strategies at its disposal to improve on a species. As a rule, appeal is directly associated with strength, speed or size. The strongest male lion is also the most attractive because he offers protection and has the largest territory with room for potential progeny. He mates with the prettiest lady lion and together they produce a whole bunch of attractive baby lions and these in turn make love to another couple's strong baby lions. And so on and so on. It has always been a matter of siring offspring that in turn sire offspring. But for a couple of millennia now, humans have been the only animal species to ignore the rules of nature - and with steadily increasing tenacity. Human males don't have to beat up their rivals anymore to defend their territory and inseminate a human female. They don't even have to be particularly big or fast in order to be found attractive. What's more, the modern human male and the modern human female don't even have to produce any offspring if they don't feel like it. The new human being can even design jewellery without being considered a social outcast. But how in heaven's name has an entire animal species managed to become so detached from the laws of nature that the herd not only sanctions but actually celebrates using precious metals to make embellishments for the body that look like corrugated cardboard? What has the world come to when something so totally unnecessary as overpriced bijouterie is embraced?

Let me digress. A crucial aspect of being a human being is to be able to think of danger without actually being in danger. Everybody has an understanding of past, present and future; everybody can make plans and have regrets, can be happy and scared. That's what we call "thinking". I may be pretty sure I'm not about to die right this minute, but I can still think about death. An abstract, eternal feeling that runs through every day. I may be mistaken but other creatures are not afraid of anything that is not concrete. I mean, have you ever seen a grazing zebra on TV that is thinking about how awful it would be for a lion to sneak up and try to bite its behind? Or a pine tree that is worrying about whether it deserves to be alive? No. The pine tree stoically pines away in the here and now. The zebra grazes as much as it can and relaxes in the shade in between. Relaxing is its job: zebras have no time to be afraid, they just keep going. I'm constantly afraid. I'm afraid I won't be able to fall asleep and afraid I'm going to oversleep in the morning. I'm afraid people might not like me or might even make fun of me because they don't understand me. I'm afraid someone might understand me too well and might know me better than I know myself. And I'm afraid that I'll be dead someday and nobody will remember me. Nothing will be left of me. What, if after you die, everything is much worse than you could possibly have ever imagined? And then maybe you wake up to find yourself standing in an empty gym, and there's a fat, fat man standing in front of you wearing cycling pants and he says, ‘Hi, I'm Urs and you are in heaven.' That could happen. And then you'd tear your hair out because you didn't do everything humanly possible to make sure you leave something behind.

David Bielander is one of those people who realize that the only way to cheat death is to create something for eternity while you're alive. A laborious business but at least whatever it is will end up living without you. Something you stand for, something in which you had to invest body and soul to avoid looking ridiculous. I don't know him personally but I have the feeling Bielander's waters run deep. ( Though maybe he's actually a superficial guy who's never put much thought into anything and just happened to strike gold. If that's the case, please forgive my poor judgement. ) David Bielander is certainly plagued by anxiety, regularly haunted by meaninglessness and doubt, has a hard time existing in the here and now like a zebra, and has dissolved into tears in the shower because everything seemed so stripped of meaning and insignificant. The point is that only someone who has sensed an abundance of ugliness within himself is capable of devoting his life to something as beautiful as making jewellery. Bielander is an artist who sets the painfully normal on a pedestal of exclusivity, compelling us to stop short for a moment in order to take in what we see. A moment in which time stands still and there is no room left for fear. And in the process, he not only risks failure as an artist but also as a functioning cog in society. He jeopardizes his status as a male lion. (For chrissake, you gotta be off your rocker to make bananas out of silver and leather.)

And in two hundred years, when everybody who is alive today has long been dead, people won‘t remember the individuals who embodied an era but rather what they produced. And whether an animal could do a better job if it had the freedom to take artistic action is a moot question. And so is whether it makes sense for members of a species, like art buyers, to wear borrowed plumes in order to climb the sex appeal ladder to attract stronger, faster lady lions. You‘ve got to draw the line somewhere when it comes to what you leave behind, because if there's anything that is even more unnecessary than creating jewellery, it‘s reading about the creation of jewellery aficionados.


Hazel Brugger
Translation: Catherine Schelbert