Svenja John

Svenja John works exclusively in Macrolon, a polycarbonate normally used in the manufacture of cycle helmets, roofing, CDs and so on. Here, it is stretched out to form a very thin foil – Macrofol – and surface-treated by John, coloured by hand and stamped out into different shapes. Using clever interconnecting devices, she creates various types of spatial bodies which are used as brooches, armbands, earrings and even small handbags. Her piece Fugo, is a pendant.
The way John’s work lays claim to space without actually filling it, in which it defines places without occupying them, in which the artists creates “materiality” while at the same time transcending it, gives these pieces a magical oscillation. The subject of our exhibition this year is “Place(s)”. What makes a place, a location? The fact that it is defined and has boundaries. That things are able to assemble there, to gather together and be displayed, that they can happen. A place has a focal point, a centre, perhaps a purpose, that it can form a starting point for something. John’s pieces are without doubt places for assembly and happening: here, we find the concentration of an abstract sculpture, sometimes with architectural associations, sometimes systems that remind us of crystalline, organic structures or scientific models. They encircle, gather and formulate around something, around a focus which is empty or has a core that cannot exactly be discerned. The concentric, geometric arrangements of recurring, polygonal formal elements, the unusual material, the use of colour which is either a muted monochrome or of a psychedelic brightness, also leave us feeling unsure as to where we are: in the flower power rush of the 1970s, or in a germ-free research laboratory where previously unknown species and cell structures are on display?
    The most unusual aspect, however, is the way materialisation occurs, and in which these defined, highly-informed scenes come into contact with the surrounding space, impacting on it and merging with it. There is no real boundary. The wafer-thin material, the unfixed interconnections, the multi-faceted, multi-punctured surface cause the volume to become diffused in free space, and make us feel as if the place defined by the assembled material is a virtual one. A space in which to think, an intersect, a place where an infinite amount of information suddenly comes together, only to branch off again into nothing. Flexibility and placelessness, compatibility and the joy of reaction, and a high degree of abstractional power characterise unfixable spaces which are created and defined by the laws of rationality and futuristic phantasmagoria in equal part.

Gabi Dewald

Svenja John (b. 1963 Germany) is jewellery designer and lives in Berlin.




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