Robbin Ami Silverberg (Brooklyn, NY)
Smell of Winter
Embedded silks in handmade papers, archival inkjet photographs and text, artisanal perfume vial
Edition of 10
Open: 13.25″x25″ (book) / 14.25″x27″x1″ (box)
Closed: 13.25″ x 12.75″ x .25″ (book)
Although the basis for my work, whether artist book or installation, is conceptual, much of my artwork stems from an essential materiality. The artwork reflects on both my material sensibility as much as the content and issues that comprise their core. Paper has been my preferred material for over 30 years and I have explored its potential as a non-neutral substrate in my image making, book making and process.
Much of my work focuses on the image of text based on a Cabalistic belief, which explains that two holy books were actually handed down: the Black Torah and the White Torah. The Black one is made of all the black letters while the White Torah is made up of all the space between them – between the words and between the letters — where the Cabalists believed true wisdom could be found.
My interest is in this interlinearity, the ‘in-between’ that highlights language cognition – what words can actually communicate and their limitations. Can ideas exist without language and words? And, if the word order defines meaning, is it the words themselves or the spaces between that contain those ideas? The resulting artworks, whether made as books or installations, force the viewer to re-consider the very act of ‘reading’.
Smell of Winter:
Color, texture and layering, along with scent & sound, are all utilized here to evoke the feel of the ‘smell of winter’.
The 1st & last signatures, made from translucent papers with embedded silk pieces of deep purples & whites, express the abstraction of cold through its color tonalities and the crisp rustle of the turning pages. Nestled on these translucent pages are tiny slats of paper with the chemical names used in the perfume. When consecutively read, these words transform to an absurdist sound poem; simultaneously, the abstract imagery becomes suggestive of enlargements of microscopy.
A smaller central signature, also of translucent papers, displays photographs of shadows made on the snow & ice on a visit to Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Salt Lake, Utah, along with an overlay printing of the handwritten recipe for the perfume.
A narrow paper strip is tipped on to the final page, with a whimsical text by the artist, I mentioned the North Pole. The text tells of an elderly woman who dreams of the smell of her phantom books and the small of snow.
A spray vial of Snow perfume, is included in the clamshell, designed & produced with MCMC Frqngrances, in a limited edition of 12 spray vials especially for this artist book.