Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living?
I’m a filmmaker living in Brooklyn. I grew up in Vermont. I moved to New York 17 years ago when I came here to go to college. I started a film making collective called SeeThink Films. We make documentaries and fiction films.
How did you find out about Jelena Behrend and what was your first Jelena Behrend piece?
I met Jelena when I was making a film with Michel Auder. Michel wanted to shoot a scene with Jelena. We went to her apartment on Lower East Side. When we arrived she was making sausages and stew. She fed us and put lotion on us and we all drank together and made a good scene. I think Jelena thought I was a square at first. She was skeptical because I sort of look like a preppy. But we became fast friends and she
has been a dear friend every since.
The first piece I received was a silver ring she made me as a congratulatory gift. She gave it to me the night I premiered the film I made about my grandmother.
What was your first encounter like, when you wore Jelena Behrend's jewelry?
Michel wore a lot of her jewelry. I thought it was a cool style. I guess I always felt like I was a lot less conservative than I looked so maybe subconsciously I was trying to dirty-up my style a bit. The jewelry is really provocative stuff; beautiful and aggressive. I started going to Jelena’s studio with Michel. Jelena was always making work; pounding and soldering away all the time. It was fun. That’s how I started collecting her stuff.
And does it bring you fortune, love, and protection?
Yes, in some strange way I do feel like they are a shield. I’m not a superstitious person but it does give me a sense of security. Every time I finish a film I ask Jelena to make a ring to commemorate the film. It’s a just a private reminder I guess. It’s a way to remembering the things I’ve done. It marks the passage of time for me.
What are your favorite places to wear Jelena's jewelry?
I only wear it on my wrists and hands.
What pieces are your all time favorite, and why?
I don’t really have a favorite. I like certain ones more at different times and in different combinations. One cool thing is that she made me a silver key chain and I use a photo of it as my iPhone background. So her work is even present in my digital world!
How does Jelena make the jewelry perfect for you?
I think like any good work it’s very personal. Not personal because she knows me but personal because she put so much of herself into the work. Everything she makes is totally unique. She does all of the shaping and mark-making herself. It’s a lot of hard work but you can feel it in the jewelry. You can put something on your body that feels idiosyncratic. Even a lot of hand made jewelry feels all cleaned up and
derivative. Jelena’s always just has an edge to it. It’s hard to quantify. It’s energetic.
What do people say, when they see you wearing the jewelry, and how do you manage their envy?
People always comment on my jewelry! All the time. They want to take my hand and look at everything closely. Sometimes I let them. Sometimes I don’t. It depends on who asks.
Are there pieces that you never take off, that are a part of your skin?
The jewelry is ritualistic for me. In modern life we no longer have any rituals. I take it all off before bed and put it all on in the morning. It’s a way of preparing for the day. It sounds silly but it sort of feels like armor. I feel a bit naked without it on.
What pieces are you hoping to own next?
I just made a movie called GOAT. So I’m going to ask her to make me a ‘goat ring’. Good name for a ring. I’ll have her watch the movie and let her translate that into a ring! That will be fun.
ANDREW NEEL was born in Vermont in 1978 and is a graduate of Columbia University with a BA in Film Studies. He formed a film collective SeeThink in 2001 that is based in Brooklyn. Andrew has directed and produced award winning fictional and documentary films. He directed his most recent film GOAT this past May (2015) produced by Killer Films and James Franco, staring Ben Schnetzer and Nick Jonas.
PORTRAIT AND STILL LIFE BY: JJ JIMENEZ
IN THE PORTRAIT ANDREW IS WEARING: customized Zeus Ring, Forever Ring, JBS Bubble (as pinky) and Sterling Silver Rings, Pitbull Bracelet, also men's version of Sailor and Monk Link Bracelet and sterling silver customized Cuff
STILL LIFE showcases all Andrew's jewelry up close.
TO READ VOL. 1 OF "JELENA BEHREND'S OBJECTS OF DESIRE" CLICK HERE OR OBJECTS OF DESIRE TAG