Consonants and Vowels, 2019, Anat Golan - Eretz Israel Museum

Consonants and Vowels, 2019, Anat Golan

Photo: Hadar Saifan


Acrylic teeth, Perspex, epoxy, pure silver, sterling silver; laster cutting, construction, casting, setting


Anat Golan, b. 1983


“One of the subjects I examine in my works is the use of jewelry as a platform for communication among people. In contrast to jewelry, which is voluntarily used to adorn the body, the mouth is a vital and inseparable part of the body, filling a central communicative function. The intuitive sounds produced by an infant in order to communicate with the parents develop into consonants, vowels and syllables, acquire meaning as part of language, and attest to integration into a human community.

While working on these jewelry pieces for the Biennale (parallel to another project concerned with semantics), I came across early 19th-century advertising posters for minstrel shows, which were concerned with the everyday life of blacks in the United States. White actors whose faces were painted black, with bright red lips, were the actors in these shows. These lips have become a hallmark of the discourse on racism and class difference, which unfortunately remains highly pertinent even today.

In this work, the jewelry pieces become alternative, absurd body parts. The mouth is displaced from its natural location to the chest, as a brooch or pendant. The brooches schematically capture the shape of the mouth while uttering the sounds A, E, I, O, U. These sounds, which are shared by almost all phonetic languages, are universally used as a basis for communication.

The jewelry pieces are composed of reflective surfaces resembling mirrors, which are set with prosthetic teeth. They draw viewers to observe the replicated body part, study the reflected lips, and move between phonetic and visual languages, as if speaking with the object. In doing so, they inadvertently shift from a phonetic language to a visual language – from an image emblematic of despise to a proudly worn jewelry piece.”


On display at the Glass Pavilion, Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design, MUZA – Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.