GEM Z is an exhibition cast as the speculative crash-landing site of an alien pod. After millennia of humankind looking out into space and beaming messages into the unknown, what if it turned out that someone was gazing back? By employing collective sci-fi imagination, the artists of Generation Z turn the gaze back onto us: this time around, we are not the observer, but the observed.
In 1977, Earthlings launched two spacecraft, each equipped with a copy of the Golden Record — a gold-plated audio-visual disc containing information about the diversity of Earth’s life and cultures. These ‘messages in a bottle,’ loosely aimed in the direction of intelligent alien species, are currently the farthest human-made objects from our home planet. They carry images and sounds of Earth — samples of human speech, musical tracks and illustrations of the structure of DNA — deeper into interstellar space.
Four decades after the hopeful launch of the Golden Records, GEM Z imagines an analogous alien treasure trove crashing here on Earth. Inside the precious debris are adornments enclosing genetic data, all-seeing artificially intelligent eyes, ornamutational organisms designed for symbiosis, samples of nuclear animistic beauty, ritualistic tools and research that de-glamorizes diamonds.
The membranous scenography of the exhibition’s crash site serves as a metaphor for the new narratives offered by the Generation Z makers — oozing and diffusing out of the museum’s walls. The presented works fuse design, digital art and adornment, and were specifically developed for this exhibition by the participants of Current Obsession’s Gem Z Talent Acceleration Programme.
Emmie Ray Hubbard
Joannette van der Veer
Initiated and curated by Current Obsession.
About Gem Z
Gem Z is a talent development programme initiated by Current Obsession — a magazine and platform for contemporary adornment.
To support a new generation of young makers as they develop their voices, Current Obsession launched the programme in 2020. The main goal of the Gem Z programme is to foster relationships between young creatives, cultural institutions and the industry. Through the three main stages of the programme, CO offers the participants a variety of opportunities to strengthen their creative and business development. Through Gem Z, CO aims to present new approaches to the contemporary jewellery medium through the unique lens of Generation Z.
Tutors of the programme included industry frontrunners Andrew Thomas Huang, Chris Habana, Florence Tétier and James Merry, amongst others.
About Current Obsession
Current Obsession is a jewellery magazine and platform based in the Netherlands. Appreciated for its experimental approach and unconventional style, CO showcases new ways of presenting and experiencing jewellery. CO collaborates with exceptional designers and artists and develops curatorial projects and events with renowned brands and cultural institutions.
CO connects diverse audiences in and outside of the field of jewellery and amplifies the voices of the makers. The knowledge and expertise of its team, and their desire to continue to search for what is ‘current’ in the field, have established CO as a trailblazer in contemporary jewellery and beyond, making it the go-to platform for an international and cross-disciplinary network of designers, artists and initiatives.
Creative Industries Fund NL
Municipality of Rotterdam
Australia Council for the Arts
Gallery 3 By You / Het Nieuwe Instituut