Jen Bervin

Jen Bervin (born in Dubuque, United States; lives in Guilford, United States) engages eyes, hands, ears, and minds in an exploration of intersections between text and fibre. Combining crafts and high technology, her works result from conceptual, scientific, and poetic investigations of matter. Dialoguing with and through materials, her projects take the form of poems, artist books, videos, and installations that stage embodied forms of language and tactile properties specific to textiles.

Dubuque, United States
Countries / Nations
United States
Guilford, United States


Wet Futures

In the artist’s book The Sea, Bervin presents a silvery oceanic landscape meticulously woven on reproductions of pages from the book The Opal Sea (1906) by John C. Van Dyke, an author from the United States who was interested in the sensory and perceptual specificities of nature. His vast century-old study on the sea and its splendour approaches the ocean as an enigmatic and multiple being. Like a cluster of stars held together by gravity, the zigzag constellation of opalescent points sewn by Bervin both illuminates and partially veils Van Dyke’s prose. The fragments of text that she has left legible emerge from the underwater relief, forming new poems with the metallic threads. With attention and patience, the gaze strives to find the words, often drowned beneath the silvery undulations. Text and textile meet here in what Bervin calls a “contact zone,” a term employed by feminist philosopher Donna Haraway to define the space where beings and things are constituted in and by their relationships. An entire ecosystem is created through the interactions between words and fibres. The Sea offers an embodied way to navigate the written world, echoing the deciphering process inherent to the act of reading. Surging up from the woven landscape, the words appear as if surfacing through roiled, sibylline water. Each poem, born from subtraction, offers a way for sensitively approaching the real and opens new paths for experiencing the sea.