Traces of Function

Love Jönsson about Traces of Function

The jewellery pieces included in Tobias Alm’s series Traces of Function evoke the appearance of buttons, grip bars and coat racks, but, as things, they seem evasive and mysterious. There is a certain muteness to the forms, a lack of communication that challenges the viewer. In this connection, the artist has spoken of the interest he has developed in how a function can be perceived in an object “without clearly knowing what it could be used for, or has been used for”. In this series, he also wants to address the question of what it is that makes something into a tool – what it is that its “toolness” lies in. Clearly inspired by the conceptual universe of Heidegger and his famous investigation into the meaning of tools, Tobias Alm’s project serves as an indicator of the ease with which today’s jewellery artists bring pragmatic questions about the crafts, their function and their use, together with more high-flying abstractions of philosophy.

-Love Jönsson, in the exhibition catalogue From the Coolest Corner: Nordic Jewellery, ed. Widar Halén, Arnoldsche 2012

Ward Schrijver about Traces of Function

Tools and utensils usually don’t need instructions or a manual. Their handling becomes second nature. Often a location for the hand is recognizable, the logic of buttons and handles is unmistakable. Tobias Alm was attracted to venture into the field of this sort of, often implicit, visual language. He was keen to see when doubt might set in, when the obvious would give way to uncertainty.

Alm makes necklaces and brooches with shapes that are suggestive, but elucidate little. Using unconventional combinations, connections and materials he willfully makes ambiguous images. The conception is no longer guided by functional demands, but relies solely on the fascinations of the artist. In an intriguing way the jewellery balances between being a sculptural object and a commodity. It is fitting for the theme of this collection: for what happens when you look at something? What if its function is not instantly clear, when purpose and beauty seem to be rivals? There might come a moment when you decide that the object is a piece of jewellery.

Ward Schrijver
(© Galerie Rob Koudijs)

Traces of Function no 19, 2012
Wood, fiber board, cotton.

Traces of Function no 29, 2013
Fiber board, cotton.

Traces of Function no 25, 2013
Wood, fiber board, cotton steel.

Traces of Function no 24, 2013
Wood, fiber board, cotton, steel.

Traces of Function no 23, 2013
Wood, fiber board, cotton.

Traces of Function no 3, 2012
Wood, fiber board, cotton, steel.

Traces of Function no 2, 2012
Wood, cotton, steel.

Traces of Function no 1, 2012
Wood, fiber board, cotton.