In 1948, in the icy waters off the west coast of Iceland, a British ship from Grimbsy called the Epine GY7, wrecked. The remains of the ship washed up on a remote stretch of the west coast near the Snaefellsness Glacier.
The rusted remains are strewn across a smooth, black pebbled beach. The abstract forms are full of latent potential and a dormant, almost kinetic energy.
Silverstein has taken it upon herself to document and archive these three-dimensional fragments into graphic two-dimensional rubbings - a process imbued with ritual and signifying remembrance. The rubbings, photographs, and video are just the start of the journey. Using the pieces from this constructed archive, the artist has begun an attempted reconstitution and memorial. This exhibition presents only the first chapter: The Fragments.
Inherent in Silverstein’s practice is this same desire to take apart and piece back together fragments of her own work. Her studio is overflowing with stacks, piles and arrangements of abstract shapes cut from larger pieces of painted canvas. These she re-assembles, arranges and rearranges into large-scale layered configurations - using and repurposing the detritus from her collaging to rebuild something new again and again.
At its core this project, as much of Silverstein’s work, is about mining wreckage to create new forms. Her obsessive desire to understand develops into a desire to build structure and meaning from the fragments and evidence of wreckage. Forms, like understandings, are not permanent, and Silverstein’s creative process embraces the way that things come apart and come back together. Our bodies, our relationships, our expectations, even massive machines made of steel are all, eventually, dismembered; it is the continuous process of restructuring that interests Silverstein — a process of remembering.
For Diverge/Convene at The San Diego Art Institute, Silverstein created hanging “heads” to represent two of the survivors of the Epine GY7 wreck. Of this work, she says, “As I sorted and studied the rubbings back in my studio, I began to see faces in them. It is said that seeing faces in nature is the anthropomorphic root of religion. As strange as it seems to make faces out of the remnants of a ship wreck, this has been my entry point into transforming a decomposing monument into something new. These hanging structures lift the heavy metal pieces that are half-buried in sand, everyday descending further, and suspend them in the air, using ropes, hooks, and other utilitarian, industrial materials of rigging, fishing, lifting, and pulling.”