Etten-Eller: In the Liminal World Between Art and Craft

“A lot of the art world likes to make this division between art and craft, which is something that always frustrated me, and is something that I’ve always pushed against,” Cristina Bloom tells us as we sit in her studio, underneath a mile-high ceiling and large, arcing windows, on a snowy day in November. Bloom’s jewelry line is called Etten-Eller, a play off the title of Kierkegaard’s seminal work, “Enten-Eller” (translated from the Danish is “either-or.”) In fact, Bloom’s exquisite designs engage this question of whether or not something has to be defined as either art or craft. Her designs refute the argument that there is any difference between the two, transcending the limitations of category.

Bloom works out of a studio in the American Can Factory in Gowanus, a building populated by a community of artists and craftspeople. A small watchmaker’s table sits in the corner, recalling the origin story of Etten-Eller, when Bloom first played around with the inner workings of timepieces and, based on their unique and previously hidden beauty, produced her first jewelry pieces. Although Bloom has long since moved on from making jewelry from watch parts, each of her pieces still bears a timestamp of sorts. In place of an anonymous serial number, each item has a date associated with it, a date that carries some sort of significance, no matter how obscure. Collections have included pieces labeled “02.01.1884: the day the Oxford dictionary debuted” and “02.18.1979: snow falls in the Sahara.” Bloom explains, “For me, every single piece that I wear is attached to a moment in time, like a souvenir. Jewelry, like dates, are markers of memories.”

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