Performing Jewellery : Jewellery, decoration, gender and performance

University essay from Konstfack/Ädellab/Metallformgivning


This essay is about the act of wearing contemporary jewellery has as a way of communication between human beings. I investigate the act of decorating the body as an important and basic human need. 

This essay investigates the relationship between gender, feminine culture, and decoration within the Western world, thinking of jewellery as a socialisation method and not as a consequence of natural differences between sexes.

This investigation presents a brief historical review of the role that jewellery has been playing in the relations between the genders and the changes it has undergone in terms of cultural process over the last centuries. I introduce to the reader the idea of performing jewellery with the aim of to highlight the relevance that decoration on the body has as a way to construct our identity. 

The post-structuralist theories about gender and identity made by the feminist philosopher Judith Butler (Gender Trouble 1990, Undoing Gender 2004), and some philosophical perspectives on material culture, are used to support my investigation, to postulate that jewellery pieces can be viewed or understood  us as ‘queer apparatus… As a way to explore and experience  jewellery as a ‘queer apparatus, I have chosen few examples of contemporary jewellery. 

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