The Silk Poems


Jen Bervin

Silk, as a material, is compatible with body tissues; our immune system accepts it on surfaces as sensitive as the human brain. The Silk Poems is an experimental book that takes this textile as its subject and form, exploring the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk, mending and the body in poems imprinted on cast silk pages. Drawing on contemporary biomedical engineering research using patterned silk as sensors under human skin, the artist will fabricate the book by pouring silk solution on nanopatterned plates. The resulting pages will be combined into a transparent “book” resembling a piece of microfiche film—a single small sheet, with every poem present, that can be read with fiber-optic light.

Project Updates

  • 2014: Bervin researches in Istanbul, Turkey at Topkapi Saray Muzesi Archive and in Tbilisi, Georgia at the State Silk Museum

  • 2014: Bervin researches in Venice, Italy at Palazzo Mocenigo, Library of the Study Centre for the History of Textiles; in Como at Museo Didattico della Seta and La Fondazione Antonio Ratti Textile Museum & Library; in Bogliasco at The Liguria Study Center, Bogliasco Fellowship; and in Lucca at Villa Guinigi Museum, Palazzo Mansi and Biblioteca Statale di Lucca

  • 2013: Bervin researches in Suzhou, China at Suzhou Silk Museum and Suzhou Silk Embroidery Research Institute, in Suzhou at the Soochow University Silk Engineering Department, in Hangzhou at The China National Silk Museum and in Tongxiang at a small-scale silkworm farm 

  • 2013: Bervin researches in Yokohama, Japan at Silk Museum / Silk Hakubutsukan, in Tokyo at the Tokyo National Museum; and in Kyoto at Orinasu-kan Museum, Nishijin Textile Center and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Traditional Crafts 

  • 2013: Bervin researches in Lyon, France at Maison des Canuts and Musée des Tissus et Arts décoratifs de Lyon; and in Paris at Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs and Institut du Monde Arabe / Bibliothèque de l’IMA 

  • 2013: Bervin researches at Columbia University’s Rare Books and Manuscript Library, and Starr East Asian Library and Rare Book Reading Room