1.- The interviewee
Viveka, as you already know this is a very special interview for us. We have been friends for years and we are very thankful for your support. First of all let’s introduce you to our readers with your profile in Tumblr, for example; it goes ‘Barrocker, crápula, delirium tremens, aesthete, dandybilly, a pirate´s song. Obsessed with Venice, past times, refinement and silent cinema (for example)’. It’s quite cryptic and mysterious… but you know that already.
2.- The Interview
2.1.- A bit more about Viveka Goyanes (aka Amoelbarroco)
Q.- You were born in A Coruña, a city in the North-West of Spain, but you have lived in other Spanish cities such us Pontevedra, Madrid and, currently, Salamanca. So… would you say that living in different places has influenced you?
A.- I could say I usually carry my world with me to every place where I move to, and this world grows, inevitably, assimilating pieces of each city as memories, mental souvenirs. So yes, I think I’ve been influenced by all these different places in one way or another, also by the cities I had the chance to visit as a traveller, specially Venice.
Q.- Fashion and Art meet at Amoelbarroco. Tell us about your alter ego, please.
A.- Amoelbarroco will be 10 years in 2013! This alter ego is a sort of idea, signature or concept created to hold all my creative activities, most related to art+fashion stuff lately. A significant part of my life has been dedicated to the construction of this long-term project.
Q.- Your designs have been awarded several times (First Price Creación Joven Injuve, Second Price Sculpture Young Creators Salamanca, etc.) and your talent has attracted a wide array of collaborators that have helped to shape Amoelbarroco as a multidisciplinary project (fashion, photography, video and sculpture just to say a few). Can you tell us about your experience building such an invaluable network? Do you have any tips for jewelers like us?
A.- It happens that people with similar interests and taste feel attracted to each other, nowadays the Internet offers us good chances of meeting kindreds and work together. From a looong time ago I regularly collaborate with friends that have their own creative projects. I like to work with people I feel comfortable with, sharing my ideas and trying new ways to represent them, I also feel fortunate to be able to develop my work this way.
A good tip is not being afraid of trying new things, maybe you mightn’t be happy with the first outcome, but research is a good way to achieve good results.
Q.- From our point of view, many of your designs would perfectly fit Steampunk aesthetics. Have you been told this before?
A.-Yes, in fact I’ve been reviewed by Steampunk blogs sometimes. I think about my work as a Frankenstein’s monster of influences, all molding the same body, and some of them can fit also on Steampunk aesthetics/inspirations.
Q.- What’s Steampunk for you?
A.- It’s a mixture of certain cultural stuff and certain aesthetics, mostly focused on XIXth century. Literature like The Anubis gates by Tim Powers or The Age of unreason by Gregory Keyes summarize the essence of Steampunk to me; a kind of fantastic reinterpretation of our past and history (or selected parts of them) under a contemporary glance. This idea can also be translated to a concrete image or into fashion, of course. I guess the worst part of the thing is that today is closer to become a cliché, always repeating the same elements (brass gears, ahem) again and again, when it could be a rich source of inspiration.
2.2.- Steampunk Jewelry
Q.- And then, what’s Steampunk jewelry?
A.- Maybe a kind of jewelry constructed with a strong inspiration from historic pieces, but with an obsolete technology vintage look.
Q.- You have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. How are jewelry and art linked?
A.- As could happen in other disciplines, I guess jewelry can become art at some point, Lalique was the perfect example, it depends on the aspiration of artists and the manifestation of their work. My idea is almost the same as Wilde’s in his essay The close of the Arts and Crafts.
Q.- Can someone have too many jewels?
A.- It’s never enough!
Q.- Many of the Steampunk archetypes are reflected in your fashion collections. For example Private Mythologies, Part I (La poupée pirate) and Part II (Dandypiracy). Taking into consideration that you have designed accesories and jewelery, how could these archetypes inspire fine jewelry?
A.- Mmmm, my jewelry designs were compositions of found pieces, not really original jewels, but yes, anyone can have their own interpretation of piracy or elegance, for example, and this can be reflected in fine jewelry creations.
Q.- Have you ever considered the possibility of designing fine jewelry?
A.- I would like to design every kind of attire or fashion object, I wish I had the chance to do it.
Q.- Your collection ‘Supervillains Romantic Circus’ shows that circus is another of your obsessions. In fact your most recent proposal, a collection of collars and bow ties baptized as ‘Atelier Incroyable’ can be found in Ooops, the shop of Teatro Circo Price in Madrid. Circus and freak shows were very famous during the Victorian era and are relevant in the Steampunk scene (Steampunk Circus or Circus Oz, for example). Steampunk cirque based fashion and jewelry sounds crazy?
A.- Absolutely not, this sounds really interesting if it’s made with good taste!
Q.- Talking about madness, is it just us or… is there too much glue and resin in the market?
A.- Not madness, nowadays crafts are completely popularized and extended, this makes more difficult to find original and good quality pieces, it happens the same with photography, for example.
Q.- Salamanca is a beautiful town with 150,000 inhabitants and the oldest university in Spain (it was founded in 1134 and it is, besides, the third oldest European university in continuous operations). The Art Déco and Art Nouveau Museum Casa Lis in Salamanca holds 19 collections of decorative art from the late 19th century and early 20th century with some 2,500 well preserved items. We are fascinated by Modernism, so… would you share with us your thoughts about how it has influenced you and how could Steampunk fashion and jewelry be influenced too?
A.- I love their collection of chryselephantine sculptures, antique dolls and little automatons….and the clothing all they are wearing. Lately I’ve been influenced by this sculptures, yes, specially the ones representing dancers or people in costumes. They recently managed an exhibition about Diaghilev’s ballets and I were delighted by all this stuff. You could appreciate this inspiration in my forthcoming collection.
This museum is worth to be visited if you’re interested in all these subjects and I’m sure their collection can be really inspiring for Steampunk fashion or jewelry makers.
Q.- The General Spanish Civil World Archive is also in Salamanca. In this location there is a Freemasonry Exhibition where many different attributes (objects that members use to represent the doctrines and myths of their Order) are displayed. In fact, the Masonic hall includes even the recreation of a Lodge! Many different classes were involved in Freemasonry during the Victorian era (Rudyard Kipling reflected this accuratelly in “The man who would be king’), although generally membership was seen as a prestige position in Victorian England. Getting back to the point, wearing symbols of an active organization -such as Masonry- could lead to confusion, but there were a number of Victorian secret societies, both real and fictional, that are no longer active. Do you find these kind of objects (sashes, aprons, collars, jewels, swords, mallets…) as inspiring as we do? Maybe we should design some pieces rooted in this…
A.- That is a great idea, in fact, they describe some of their ritual objects as jewels. The final touch is essential and it can be achieved through details or small ornaments like these. It’s interesting, as well, the mysterious halo that impregnates all these objects…maybe this can be found in new brand creations too.
Q.- Is there anything else you would like to add?
A.- Yes, a commentary that has a lot to do with we’ve talked about: these are hard times for artists and artisans, people should invest their money in quality unique pieces that last forever much better than in big companies stuff! These unique pieces involve authentic beauty!
Disclaimer.- The opinions or statements expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of Decimononic.
3.- Next interviewee!
On the 15th of April, we are publishing the interview for Lee Ann Farruga. Known internationally as Countessa Lenora, Canadian Queen of Steampunk, she is the founder of Steampunk Canada, a national organization bringing together steampunks from across Canada and educating the general public about this genre/community.
A bundle of organizational energy held in check only by her impressive collection of corsets, the Countessa promotes Steampunk in a plethora of venues including the Steampunk Canada website, blogs, social media, local and national events, and at conventions large and small. Driven by her love of Steampunk she has brought the genre and local Canadian groups to the attention of publishers and major media companies and is campaigning to bring Steampunk to the attention of all Canadians through art galleries, museums, libraries and schools nationwide.
Remember that all the published interviews are available for your delight: ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’ the brief interviews series by Decimononic.