LA LUNA NEL POZZO
About JEANNE SILVERTHORNE [Giovanna Spinad’argento] New York artist
by ROSANNA ALBERTINI
“Language, one might say, is like perfume; it circulates to unpredictable effects.” (Adam Phillips)
Languages, sometimes. They grow in a mind that is human. They slip into large and small rubber crates. Over the crates, bubbling inside and around tiny figures of humans or insects. And they also splash, messed up as it happens when ideas are not ready to take only one precise shape or they don’t want to accept the rigid edges imposed by the forms we know: green flames or salad leaves? The neck of a bird, maybe animal figures refusing to reach a repetitive form. Flexible, movable nature of what we call reality? Things are turned into rubber, and I think of chewing and I see myself spitting words on to this blog which is transformative by technical means. Each of Jeanne’s pieces suggests a story, a miniature theater hiding most of the action, or throwing a hint to keep every ‘meaning’ in movement. The funeral of a lamp shares the top of a crate with a pencil tickled by white worms; it’s Italo Svevo’s pencil, the deus ex machina of one of his books. Green like a forest, a piece of plaster cracks like one rigid body. It also generates a minuscule other which is silicon rubber. Do forms and colors meet by coincidence?
Jeanne Silverthorne sculpts a comedy of errors: the sunflower had started well, then grew too much and couldn’t keep the roots in the ground, it can’t be let off the hook … it commits flowercide. The wire and rubber path of a fly has become a labyrinth in which the insect gets lost. But I’m not tuning my words on the objects, I’m rather focusing on the artist, this woman who condenses in rubber boxes and rolled up pieces of floor the true story of our lives made with packing and unpacking thoughts, feeling and objects. A small crate was exploded by the effort. Exhausting labor of every day. We roll the seasons flattened on paper. We end being rolled up into the calendar, waiting for the last leaf to fall — a dandelion between the teeth, dreaming of tango. Feelings, once packed, stay silent. They become unreadable volumes disorganized by chance and destiny. Imaginary pages we don’t control. But it also happens that we can’t resist the wish to associate with other words and images that speak to us, “they make us speak.” Here it’s a visual, sculpted speech: Jeanne Silverthorne’s art between the Etruscan sarcophagus and Donald Judd’s geometrical bodies. With a secret.
A silent conversation circulates among crates and small creatures, a magic agreement to keep their mouth shut, the lid steadily closed. An old man sits on two crates, a white woman with glasses walks on a cloud. “That’s my father,” Jeanne tells me. Her mother is the woman. The crates are empty and dark inside. We are not supposed to open them, each one is a different shape, color, grain; they seem to me personal blocks of experience, those packages of life we don’t share, they are private. But father knows what’s inside his hole, Svevo’s pencil knows it. The language of the present brings up surprising images from which time has dropped, they are ghosts, sometimes luminescent. Not monumental no way. Except maybe the squared cup that was cardboard and tape, transformed into a rubber cup. If one looks inside, the sacred space appears, the secret of a cup looking like a ruin, an empty room protecting a luminous circle on the bottom. Italians call it “la luna nel pozzo,” desire that will never turn off even if everyone knows it won’t become reality, once more words are tricky, as a dream it shines. Drink it.
Jeanne Silverthorne, Down the Hole and into the Grain, at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica