Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Forgetting Jewellery Événement, Conférence / Colloque

Time scale 8h00
The : Thursday 12 October 2017 from 10h30 to 18h30

Medusa, Jewellery and Taboos is a ground breaking trans-historical and trans-disciplinary exhibition. It chose to deconstruct the biases that define our perception of ornament as supposedly too feminine, too precious, too corporeal, and too primitive. Those four themes allowed us to explore jewellery in its relation to identity and the production of value(s), and to address the questions of jewellery’s autonomy and of the rituals that surround it.
As part of the exhibition programming, the curator Anne Dressen and the scientific advisers, Michele Heuzé and Benjamin Lignel, have decided to develop, not without a certain contradictory spirit, three problematics at the fringe of our conception of jewellery as ornamental object. The three-part symposium deals with the renunciation of jewellery (as a formatted identity marker associated to the feminine), with the artification of jewellery (the becoming-art of jewellery as dissociated from the body - whether dematerialized or sculptural) and with the re-accessorization of jewellery under new functional guises. We are betting that to envision the absence of jewellery – along “I’d rather not” scenarii - could help us understand its limits and resources.


TO OPT OUT | 10H30 > 12H30

The seminar will first address how, for different reasons, and at different times, most men and some women –lesbians and/or feminists– have redefined their relation to jewellery : how they have opted out of jewellery, or turned to other elements of their sartorial toolkit. We will therefore approach two antithetical aspects of adornment: as a normative instrument and as a means of resistance to gender normativity.

Jean Claude Bologne - Philologist, historian of masculine elegance, Paris
The masculine forfeit

Catherine Gonnard - Historian of art and lesbian culture, Paris
On the discreet jewellery of «remarkable women»

Elizabeth Fischer - Historian of dress, Geneva



Forgetting Jewellery will also explore parallels between contemporary jewellery and conceptual art, which both redefine the materiality and format of objects. Jewellery can indeed become non–wearable: an installation or a sculpture, a performance or an idea. If the disruptive strategies of conceptual art and contemporary jewelry show similarities, they do not imply the same attachment to materiality or gesture. It seems therefore important to situate those positions of rupture within their specific contexts.

Jorunn Veiteberg - Art and contemporary craft historian, Copenhagen
«It’s the Thought that Counts», on conceptual jewellery [in english]

François Piron - Art critic and curator, Paris
Conceptual pearls: from gestures to relics

Roberta Shapiro - - Sociologist, Paris



Meanwhile, jewellery has been exploring new functions, to become more technological or erotic : this is jewellery conceived as doubly accessory, both utilitarian and body-oriented. Focusing on such utilitarian equipment risks bringing jewellery back to its minor position – aligning it once again with a century-old cliché of the frivolous and the accessory. We will see, afterall, if such a position does not actually allow jewellery to reinvent itself once more, reflecting as always society’s constant evolutions.

Elizabeth Fischer - Historian of dress, Geneva
Jewellery is technology’s best friend

Betony Vernon - Designer, author and sexual anthropologist, Paris
Pleasure toolkit - the body explored [in english]

Étienne-Armand Amato - Reader in sciences and communication, Paris





Jean Claude Bologne, philologist and writer, is a specialist in the history of emotions and behaviours (love, couples, modesty  …). He published A Story of  Masculine Elegance (Perrin, 2011).


Catherine Gonnard, a specialist in the history of women artist, co-authored with Elisabeth Lebovici Women artists/artists women, Paris, from 1880 to present. Both of them are currently working on the visual culture of “lesbians” in the 50’s and 60’s, particularly as they appear on French television.


Elizabeth Fischer is a professor in charge of the Fashion, Jewelry and Accessories Design Department of the Art and Design HEAD School in Geneva. Her field of research, teaching and publication focuses on the cultural history of the ornament in a broader sense -fashion, jewelry, accessory and corporal ornament.


Jorunn Veiteberg has a PhD in art history from the University of Bergen, Norway. She has worked as a curator at Hordaland Art Centre in Bergen and Gallery F15 in Moss, and as Head of Arts at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation – Television. After moving to Denmark in 1995, she has been an independent writer and researcher. Veiteberg has written several books and many articles on a range of art historical topics, but as visiting professor at Bergen Academy of the Arts, Oslo Academy of the Arts and the Academy of Design and Crafts at Gothenburg University she has mainly focused on craft theory and contemporary craft practises. Veiteberg has led Arts Council Norway’s committee for research and development since 2014 and been a member of the council since 2016. Veiteberg is a collector of contemporary art jewellery, and her collection will be exhibited at the National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum) in Trondheim, Norway from Sep 22 – Nov 18 2018. 


François Piron is an art critic and a freelance contemporary art curator. He is in charge of the post master program at the Lyon National School of Fine Art, and he co-runs the Paraguay’s editions of Paris. He is the author of two books published in 2017: Complete theater of Guy de Cointet, and French spirit : Counter-cultures 1969-1989. He curated several exhibitions (Palais de Tokyo and Maison Rouge in Paris, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, the Serralves in Porto and the Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo). He was the curator of the Biennale of Rennes in 2016.


Roberta Shapiro is a sociologist at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Contemporary Anthropology, at the School for Advanced Social Studies (EHESS) in Paris. Her work focuses on the social changes in art and culture, through the idea of artification, namely the transformation process of non-art into art. She co-directed the book Artification. Investigation on the Transition to Art, Paris, EHESS, 2012.


Betony Vernon is a designer, author and sexual anthropologist based in Paris. Her works in precious metal, marble and other noble materials are inspired by the human body, eroticism and sexual well-being. Vernon is known for creating luxurious, durable and body safe Jewel-Tools as a response to the sex toy industry. Rizzoli International published Vernon’s first book The Boudoir Bible - The Uninhibited Sex Guide for Today, the tome is now available in 7 languages and reached bestseller status in France in 2017. Vernon’s pioneering work in both fields of design and sexology put her at the forefront of the sexual well-being movement of the 21st century. She coined the term Sado-Chic in 1992 to name her first erotic collection, laying down the foundation of the BV heritage that celebrates 25 years of Paradise Found this year.


Etienne Armand Amato is a lecturer in information and communication sciences at the UPEM (University of East Paris Marne-la-Vallée / DICEN-IDF research lab), and a researcher on contemporary eroticism and its media coverage, using methods stemming from semiology, sociology and Game studies. He for instance co-directed the issue n. 69 of Hermès focusing on “Sexualities” in 2014 and contributed in 2017 to the Medusa exhibition catalogue (essays “Erotica” and “Spike”).