The Language of Adornment
“Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit,” Donnie Darko asks his ongoing hallucination of a man in a nightmarish bunny costume. “Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?” the bunny replies.
I’m reminded of this strange, iconic scene when looking at Tom Binns’ pieces because it openly questions the process of building the self via the act of getting dressed, a beguiling question at the heart of the eccentric world of Tom Binns’ enchanting, disturbing jewels.
Pieces from three of his collections, Assemblage Eclectique, Radical Exquisites, and Contempt of the Familiar are available at Dover Street Market.
What makes an object a fashion accessory vs fine art, or is there an overlap?
Because something is worn, doesn’t make it fashion. When I make an object that is wearable, it is only a means to an end. Using the mobility of personal adornment is a great way to show an artwork. Although fashion uses my work, I have always felt marginalized in that world because I like to challenge what is acceptable in regards to how something is perceived. Art has the same purpose. Rather like what Rei Kawakubo does, which is redefining a medium to make one question the limitations of what defines art and how art is presented. Really it is an invention of a new category which she calls “The Art of the In Between” - that sums it up better than anything else. I, in my own way, try to use the medium to re-evaluate preconceived notions of the language of adornment and use it as an expression of art. I think of jewelry and fashion as a form of nonverbal communication.
What does a Tom Binns piece communicate?
Anything you look at is a form of nonverbal communication. In the case of fashion, it is really style that matters - whether someone has used clothes in a way to communicate themselves. Though it can also be very conceded and shallow. Dressing to make yourself feel good is what is important. So what I do is a part of the personality - it is an accompaniment - it is the orchestra to your song. You should be bigger than what you wear.
I’ve shopped exclusively secondhand for a long time, and I often say that objects find me, rather than me finding them - can you relate to this in regards to the things you incorporate in your pieces?
My use of materials comes from anywhere and everywhere - there is no limit to what I use. I love going to flea markets, but I love looking for things on the street just as much. What catches my eye, I gather up and use as an interpretation of a physical poem I am conjuring.
Have you ever been dumpster diving?
No I have not, thank you. BUT I am constantly aware of taken things that are disregarded, tossed to the scrap heap of life and reimagining them with a new life. Its a new kind of preciousness. The purpose of repurpose.
Historically jewelry has had magical and ritual connotations, do you feel you tap into this?
I try not to look at what I make as jewelry. It is a personal adornment. Its original significance is lost on us. But my intent has been to question the dialogue of how this medium communicates within the language of its form. There is a need to contradict what was and then to expand its possibilities. Maybe it has mystical value, I am not conscious of that but maybe for the person who connects to it, it does.
What is your definition of jewelry? Its purpose?
I think I answered that question in the previous one. These ideas take on a much broader spectrum. Art is anything an artist chooses to say it is and seeing beauty in the accident of coincidence - and giving it function. Then it becomes a reflection of personality and an expression of taste.
Are you up-to-date on your tetanus shots?
I am a somewhat healthy individual. Not sure what those are so I guess not. Ha.
What do you want for Christmas?
Peace on earth. All prejudices to be reconsidered.
How would you define luxury?
Luxury has no value. Luxury is having a natural smile - having a laugh is a luxury. Time and health are a luxury. Love is a luxury. Luxury isn’t something you buy, its something you find. Wherever you find peace of mind, that is your greatest luxury. It is within everyone to feel luxury, that is the luxury of life.