MINNEAPOLIS––Marrying architecture, design and politics, Bobby Silverman‘s recent group exhibition at Northern Clay Center, City Sine Cera considers urban landscape planning/design and its relationship to socio-territorial belonging.
“My work engages ideas of class and community, as well as multi-cultural layers of information and ideologies, to provide politically and culturally charged narratives. Dazibao, the political street posters from China’s Cultural Revolution, the calligraphic text engraved on Islamic architecture and graffiti have all been influences.” ––Silverman
Featured image: Bobby Silverman, Untitled, 2018, Glazed porcelain, 9 x 6 inches
The large collage installation TOD (Tower of David) is named after the abandoned skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, which was taken over by informal settlers––displaced by a massive housing shortage––beginning in 2007. The building has experienced a radical grass-roots transformation into a 5,000 resident vertical community 45-stories high complete with water, bodegas and salons.
Beyond its physical form, Silverman tells Cfile the cut off tile on the building was found around the his studio and represents, among other things, the salvaged materials the resident use to modify and customize the apartments and spaces to make them their own.
“My current installations and sculptures investigate how a decorative material like ceramic tile, often considered mundane and practical, can transform a wall into a political space.” ––Silverman
The image to the left in the installation is of a Moisei Ginzburg’s Soviet constructivist building from 1929 called Narkomfin. Built in Moscow in 1928, the building was considered a “social condenser” which tried to capture socialist principals such as collective facilities in its design for employees of the Commissariat of Finance.
In using both of these buildings, Silverman says he’s thinking about issues of architecture and design that are both spontaneous and considered. In either case, he tells Cfile, politics has everything to do with their added dimension beyond their physical form.
Architecture, art and design in these scenarios are not neutral; they are more direct in asserting critical views.
In a second body of work, Silverman designed a series of vibrantly glazed and painted porcelain vases ranging from 6 to 11 inches high. Like a fresh take on three-color ware, Silverman says each was fired at different temperatures and then finished off with automotive paint.
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