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REVIEW | The 3rd International Biennial of Contemporary Metal Art | METALLOphone: Bonds

Beyond Bonds: Secrets, Truths, and Revelations

The 3rd International Biennial of Contemporary Metal Art | METALLOphone: Bonds

(AV17) GALLERY; Vilnius, Lithuania

“We all look for connection: to a certain place, to new people, to the things we find around us…finding connection, the kind that is truly fulfilling, is often an insatiable pursuit.” – Kellie Riggs, Jeweler and Current Obsession editor

From the street outside the Lithuanian Artists’ Association Gallery, stark white panels brimming with exquisitely crafted and captivatingly conceptual works create a dense billboard for METALLOphone: the 3rd International Biennial of Contemporary Metal Art. It’s an impressive introduction, one that exposes intense personal introspection and then demands no less from me. I am drawn closer and closer to the window until I am pressing my face tightly against the glass; trying to decipher the often indescribable bonds that these artists seek to reveal from behind an invisible yet tangible barrier.

I am drawn immediately to the fracturing aluminum segments of Silent Action by Anneli Oppar, substantial works that would envelope the neck and nearly the entire torso. Both mimicking and disregarding the form of the body, while simultaneously emphasizing and negating its importance, Oppar illuminates the impermanent progress and weight of our own existence, at times familiar and others foreign. She creates an intrinsic sense of ever-forward propulsion while desperately trying to preserve that which already is – the gravity of both interventions make her work as much fearful as it is hopeful, and ultimately truer to the human experience. Nearby is Don’t Go by Ying-Hsien Kuo (Eunice), a sparse contemplation on the disappointment and possibilities of utter destruction and disruption by love, gracefully conveyed in concentric metal circles. One cannot escape the other nor collapse into itself, each substantive but reliant on the other to justify its placement, it’s being. The never ending line circles on itself over and over representing the hope and trust that only love can bring while the cast shadows echo the loss and despair it can also tragically leave behind.

I eagerly make my way to (AV17) GALLERY to view the other installation of this monumental exhibition. Once inside the main upper hall, even more sumptuous works are meticulously positioned on black Plexiglas angles that are suspended atop a web of black nylon threads anchored to the walls. It is an intelligent presentation that visually and physically connects and segregates the space, and creates immediate relationships: of artist to material and from the work to myself. And although they are wildly varied in materials, the juxtapositions of two pieces in particular create a striking dialogue. Vanitas = History × Space 2 by Katja Toporski is a complex brooch containing fragments of porcelain castings and intricately pierced silver. A half-sphere is scarcely tethered to the historical cylinder (whose outlines follow the paintings from the Chauvet cave) and both are braced by a glimpse of the universe from the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. Toporski, with scientific precision, ruminates on time, space and the desire to understand both in relation to oneself. But I feel more, I see the forever unknowns: the mysteries posed by birth and by death and the entirety of the life spent between - all as tenuous as space and time, each as tenuous as they will always be. Also working distinctively in the realm of the body is Holland Houdek. Femoral Stem with Rheumatoid Nodules – Hip Replacement, constructed from hand-fabricated copper and adorned in four hundred and fifty-three Swarovski crystals, is an archetype of the embodied experience. Masterfully conjuring prosthesis for imagined bodies, Houdek poetically forces me to consider my own physicality, fragility, and mortality, but through the lens of possibility despite devastating physical loss.

Placed beyond the confines of the suspended platforms, just beyond my reach, Parvus Corpus I/XV and Parvus Corpus IV/XV by Felicia Mülbaier question the peripheries of predictability. Made of thirty-eight grams of steel wool, silver, and stainless steel, smolder against the dark black title wall. These small bodies (as translated from Latin), slightly larger than the size of my hand, are begging to be cradled, pleading to be filled. They are as much about their own happenstance objectivity as they are about my trust in their ability to hold my most precious secrets and treasures, and I find them hard to walk away from.

Downstairs, I find the works in the cellar with its dense, textured, brick walls and dramatic lighting, the most activated. The allure of the space adds to the premise of (or potential for) connectedness as it is far more familiar and intimate than the traditional white gallery space above. Cuddle by Ria Lins (pictured below) is a delicate masterpiece of silver and silk threads that create a memorial vessel for both forgotten and summoned memories. The lush strands melt into a beautiful suspended sack that breathes: expanding and contracting just as my needs for connectedness and remembrance do. Emphasizing a less ephemeral notion, Terram “lurra” by Ruudt Peters (pictured at top) extols the absoluteness of the feet: they are our mobility and our roots; and most importantly, our physical connection to the micro/macrocosm. Misshapen, even ugly, Peters portrays the tortured existence of the foot, caged in silver, as a revelation and appreciation for the tender limbs that deliver such power.

In the accompanying catalog for the exhibition, Riggs fittingly quotes Wilhelm Pelikan from The Secrets of Metals: “…metals affect man not only in his body but also in his consciousness, in his soul and spirit.” METALLOphone, in its ambition to understand the metaphysical connections to the material, to oneself, and with the other, collects and introduces earnest and diverse philosophies through bewitching metal oeuvres. Each interpretation incites intense curiosity and a desire to look deeper, into the works and within myself. For now, my own insatiable pursuit for genuine connectedness is more than satisfied.

The 3rd International Biennial of Contemporary Metal Art | METALLOphone: Bonds, the only event dedicated solely for modern metal art in Lithuania, presenting works from sixty-three from twenty-eight countries was open at (AV17) GALLERY through October 26, 2016 located at Aušros Vartų g. 17, and the Lithuanian Artists' Association Gallery's showcase located at Vokieciu str.2.

For more information about the exhibition, visit:

Images (from top to bottom): METALLOphone: Bonds, installation view, including the work of Ruudt Peters (The Netherlands), Terram “lurra”, 2015, silver, renshape, 14 × 6 × 8.5 cm and Anna Vlahos (Greece), Tetraptera, 2016, sterling silver, stainless steel pin, 5.5 × 4.5 × 2.5 cm and Banksia Black, 2016, sterling silver, stainless steel pin, 9 × 3.5 × 3 cm, and Aisegul Telli (Turkey), Nature of Depth, 2016, silver plated brass, steel, resin, pigment, glass, natural stone, 6 × 4.5 cm, photo: Karolis Milaševičius; Anneli Oppar (Estonia), Silent Action 1, 2016, recycled aluminum, synthetic cord, 43 × 31 × 4 cm and Ying-Hsien Kuo (Eunice) (England), Don’t Go, 2015, copper, sterling silver, tape, 18 × 2.5 × 18 cm, photo: Agnes Yu-Hsin Su; Holland Houdek (USA), Femoral Stem with Rheumatoid Nodules – Hip Replacement, 2015, hand-fabricated copper, Swarovski crystals (453), bead-blasted, patina, 4 × 19 × 9 cm and Katja Toporski (USA), Vanitas = History × Space 2, 2016, silver, porcelain, 8 × 6 × 4 cm, photo: Karolis Milaševičius; Felicia Mülbaier (Germany), Parvus Corpus I/XV, 2015, steel wool, silver, stainless steel, 20 × 14 × 10 cm and Parvus Corpus IV/XV, 2015, steel wool, silver, stainless steel, 17 × 15 × 9 cm, photo: Karolis Milaševičius; Ria Lins (Belgium), Cuddle, 2015, silver, silk thread, 50 × 4 × 8 cm, photo: Karolis Milaševičius

Exhibition Details: Curator: Kristina Mizgirytė, director of (AV17) GALLERY; International Jury: Jeweler Sigitas Virpilaitis (LT), associate professor Vilnius Academy of Arts, Faculty of Telsiai Mindaugas Simkevicius (LT), art critic and jeweler Justina Zymonaite(LT), jeweler Tadas Deksnys (LT), artist and curator Ketli Titsaar (EST), and lecturer of Academy of Art Lodz, Department of jewelry art Ewa Effenberg (PL); Exhibition designer: artist Nerijus Erminas

The 3rd International Biennial of Contemporary Metal Art | METALLOphone: Bonds is partly sponsored by the Lithuanian Council for Culture.

This review was sponsored by (AV17) GALLERY. For more information about (AV17) GALLERY, visit:

This review was also first published in Literatura ir Menas in Lithuania in print (Nr. 39, [3687] 2016 m. spalio 28 d.) as well as online, visit:

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