The HKU Museum Society and the University Museum and Art Gallery are pleased to present guided viewings of two current exhibitions, “Along China’s Coast: Dezső Bozóky’s Travel Photography 1908–1909″ and “Silk Poems”. We will be guided by Museum Director Dr. Florian Knothe, and author and artist of Silk Poems Jen Bervin.
Along China’s Coast: Dezső Bozóky’s Travel Photography 1908–1909
Following the success of UMAG’s 2016 exhibition “Two Years in Asia: Travelling in Hong Kong 1907–1909″, the Museum presents a larger group of photographs that Dezső Bozóky took along China’s coast from 1908–1909. A naval officer with the Austro-Hungarian Navy, Bozóky first left Hong Kong for Canton before travelling to Fujian province, Shanghai and Beijing, documenting the countryside and cities as well as their inhabitants. The photographer’s interest in nature and architecture and, above all, the Qing dynasty street scenes and people he met, continue to transmit the excitement and wonder of this early European traveler in a country and culture so far from his own.
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 Jen Bervin melds the medium’s traditional applications with cutting edge research – engaging with silk’s cultural, scientific and linguistic complexities.
Bervin’s Silk Poems began as a six-year research project 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.
In 2016, Bervin began collaborating 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 strands 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.
Dr. Florian Knothe studies and teaches the history of decorative arts in the 17th and 18th centuries with particular focus on the social and historic importance of royal French manufacture. He has long been interested in the early modern fascination with Chinoiserie and the way royal workshops and smaller private enterprises helped to create and cater to this long-lasting fashion.
Dr. Knothe worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art focusing on European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and on European and East Asian glass at The Corning Museum of Glass, before joining The University of Hong Kong where he now serves as Director of the University Museum and Art Gallery.
Jen Bervin is the author of ten books, including “Silk Poems”, which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and a New Museum Book of the Year. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and grants, including from The Foundation for Contemporary Art (1917), The Rauschenberg Residency (2016), and The Asian Cultural Council (2016). She is currently an artist in residence with SETI Institute, a program that facilitates an exchange of ideas between scientists and artists. Her work has been covered in media outlets such as “Artforum, Huffington Post, The Nation”, “The New Yorker” and “The New York Times”.