The Power of the Wearer through Image


There is notable distinction between expression and communication. Expression is more internalized whereas communication implies a dialogue.(1)   The power of the wearer, or the absence of the wearer, is illustrated with Otto Künzli’s Ring for Two from 1980. When displayed or photographed as an isolated object, the intent of the piece is unclear.  It is open for debate how one is to even engage with it.  In a retrospective exhibition in 2013 titled Otto Künzli.The Exhibition, Ring for Two was shown as an autonomous object behind vitrine. When depicted as being worn, Ring for Two is no longer a sterile object.  Susan Cohn writes of the photography of objects, “the photograph is not about making an object clear, but about making the object more real. This is different from reality itself.”(2) The photograph of Ring for Two depicted as being worn adds access to the piece and allows the viewer to imagine themselves inside that world.  It goes beyond simple documentation.  “Even as an image, its implicit wearability amplifies its potency.”(3)


1. Goring, Elizabeth. “Jewelry and Communication: Breaking the Code.” Metalsmith, 2006.

2. Cohn, Susan. “As Seen by Others: Photography as Strategy..” Metalsmith, 2013.

3. Goring, Elizabeth. “Jewelry and Communication: Breaking the Code.” Metalsmith, 2006.

Top figure: Otto Künzli,, Ring for Two, 1980. John Bigelow Taylor, 2008

Bottom figure: Otto Künzli, Ring for Two, 1980. High-grade steel. © VG BildKunst 2013

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