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SILK POEMS
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15 Nov 2019 - 12 Jan 2020

Jen Bervin’s Silk Poems began as a six-year research project (2010–2016) developed with expertise from more than thirty international textile archives, medical libraries, nanotechnology and biomedical labs, and sericulture sites in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Beyond silk’s traditional use in textiles, researchers are now experimenting with the material in novel forms of biomedical technology, as silk is compatible with human tissue; the immune system can accept silk on surfaces as sensitive as the human brain. In the UMAG exhibition Silk Poems, visual artist and author Bervin melds the medium’s traditional applications with cutting edge research—engaging with silk’s cultural, scientific and linguistic complexities.
 
In 2016, Ms Bervin collaborated with scientists at the Tufts University Bioengineering Department on fabricating her poetry at nanoscale. In this process, a mask was used to etch her poetry in gold spatter onto a silicon wafer, and then liquid silk was poured over the wafer. As the silk dried, the letters remained suspended in the film, resulting in a work that can be viewed through a microscope.
 
Throughout the exhibition, Bervin’s poetry is recreated in the form of a strand of DNA so as to reflect both the filament pattern that silkworms create when making their cocoon and the genetic structure of silk, which forms like the weft thread in weaving.
 
Along with the microscope station, the exhibition also includes a video by filmmaker Charlotte Lagarde detailing the project, footage of Bervin reading from her book Silk Poems, an over-sized digital print on silk fabric, and materials related to the special edition of the Silk Poems publication that was produced by Granary Books.
 
Ms Bervin’s exhibition and appearance in Hong Kong are part of 2019’s International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong (IPNHK), a biennial literary festival that will be hosted again this year at UMAG, in collaboration with the poet Bei Dao and the Hong Kong Poetry Festival Foundation. A series of evening readings will be hosted at UMAG (20–24 November 2019), featuring work from 30 award-winning international poets, including Ms Bervin, and musical performances curated by record company Noise Asia.

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