What do you do for a living?
I am the founder/director of the LES nonprofit art space, Participant Inc.
How did you find out about Jelena Behrend?
We met through the artist Michel Auder.
What was your first encounter like, when you wore Jelena Behrend’s jewelry?
The first piece Jelena made for me was a collaboration with my late grandmother, Molly, who designed a pair of diamond earrings, and bequeathed one earring to me, and the other to my sister, Francesca. This was her unique way of creating balance, but also challenging our uniqueness. I asked Jelena to design a ring that incorporated her original design, but would also become a signature Jelena piece. From the moment I put this ring on my finger, I knew our relationship would grow.
What are your favorite places to wear Jelena’s jewelry?
From this first important piece, constituting a new family, a collection formed around it. My favorite pieces are most likely ones that Jelena made for herself, such as an oversized signet choker, which bears no inscription--left open.
What pieces are your all time favorite, and why?
I like to wear pieces that are one-of-a-kind, that I like to think that no one could wear except me, except, of course, Jelena before me. I wear one cluster that contains an early text-based charm that says, "Follow Me." I like to represent the length of time in Jelena's work, from very early pieces, to ones made on the spot when we are together with hammer and flame. Also one of my favorites is a pinky ring that we call Pammy, made originally for Pamela Anderson!
Do they bring you fortune, love, and protection?
I think most of all they bring protection, which is necessary to allow one to be open to fortune and love. I wear them in this way, for strength.
How does Jelena make the jewelry perfect for you?
What makes them perfect, in terms of their ultimate custom feel, is that Jelena embraces the imperfections that represent who I am. I'm not perfect, and I don't want to be.
What do people say, when they see you wearing the jewelry, and how do you manage their envy?
While perhaps envious, Jelena's jewelry feels like it is made only for you, and it can only be worn by you, so it works out.
What is your favorite place to wear Jelena’s jewelry? Do you sleep with them, shower with them? Are there pieces that you never take off, that are a part of your skin?
I wear pretty much the entirety of my collection every day, all day. I do not like to change things. Her work is my constant. I have only one piece that does not come off, an unremovable Wonder Woman-like cuff, recently added. All the rest comes off for sleeping, but goes back on first thing in the morning. It is a ritual performed every night and day.
What pieces are you hoping to own next?
Sometimes it's nice to add something to an existing piece, like new marks or more stones or a cluster of metal. In this way, things evolve. Although some pieces will never change, so they gather meaning in proximity to something new. It's in Jelena's hands.
PHOTOGRAPHER JJ JIMENEZ | WWW.JJ-JIMENEZ.COM
MAKE UP DANIELLA SHACTER | WWW.MAKEUPBYDANI.COM
Founder/ Director, PARTICIPANT INC. Formerly, Curatorial Advisor, MoMA PS1; Associate Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. BA, Boston College ONE-PERSON EXHIBITIONS INCLUDE Deitch Projects; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Armand Hammer Museum of Art, University of California, Los Angeles; Biennale São Paulo, Brazil; Magasin 3, Stockholm; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris; Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London; Kunstverein, Munich; Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art; Galerie Riis, Oslo; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Yvon Lambert Gallery; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich CURATORIAL PROJECTS INCLUDE “Luther Price: The Years Made Flies,” PARTICIPANT INC; “Gary Indiana: Gristle Springs,” PARTICIPANT INC; “CANDIDATE / BEAUT / World Premiere of James Fotopoulos and Laura Parnes, TEN WAYS OF DOING TIME,” MoMA PS1; “Lovett/Codagnone: Make Anarchy and Disorder Your Trademarks,” LA ART, Los Angeles; “Dead Flowers,” Vox Populi, Philadelphia and PARTICIPANT INC and most recently Greer Lankton, LOVE ME, critically acclaimed exhibition organized in cooperation with the Greer Lankton Archives Museum (G.L.A.M.).
Portrait and still life feature: Tooth Handmade Necklace in Sterling Silver, Custom Choker in Sterling Silver, Textured Bubble Ring, Lia's Ring, Vegas Ring in Sterling Silver, Hand Carved Ruby Ring.