Human surfaces are hybrid objects involving biological and cultural elements like dress, makeup, jewellery, gait, skin, posture, voice. Contemporary societies manifest not only surfaces of products, but also human surfaces functioning as ‘packaging’ and emitting discourses on interiority that place humans within limits and define their individuality.
However, the surfaces are not only readable. They are also produced on a daily basis, not only by the individuals themselves or the global beauty industry at large, but also a whole political machinery of identity, gleaning certain constant, measurable and recognisable traits of individuality from the surface discourses, documenting them in passports and identity cards and locking in modern individuals within the shell of their identity. Modern jewellery – in its contemporary, critical manifestations and its inherent tendency of breaching tradition – can break open the shell of identity and involve individuals in an open play of enhancement and change of masks. It can indeed be understood as a means of counteracting the pressure towards identity in daily life in modern societies. Such ideas will be presented by the philosopher Pravu Mazumdar (born 1952 in Kolkata, India) with examples and images from the area of contemporary jewellery art.
The interest in our lecture was overwhelming. For all those who couldn’t be there Pravu Mazumdar allowed us to share his complete lecture.