From our friends at BOMB Magazine, today we bring you a conversation between artists Jen Bervin and Dianna Frid. They discuss color as a system of classification, Art Povera, and language. Diana Frid says “In classifying, I’m also alluding to the absurdity of classification, because no one is reducible to just one thing. All systems start out idiosyncratically.” This piece was originally published in BOMB 137, Fall 2016.
Restoring, overwriting, removing, and color-coding are just some of the actions that come to mind looking at the interdisciplinary works of Jen Bervin and Dianna Frid. Each in her own way explores the intersection of text and textile, where writing is a physical, intimate gesture. Both artists employ embroidery, sewing, and weaving to craft works that test the boundary between the visible and the legible.
To immerse oneself in the projects of Bervin and Frid is to be reminded that poetry lies in wait—in dusty Latin tomes, in ornate capitulares, in New York Times obituaries—to be revealed through radical acts of transformation. Their practice is one of palimpsest, in which existing text is repurposed through a combination of buildup and erasure to uncover what is essential.
Frid creates sculptures, installations, and artist’s books, often involving found text and archival material. Her recent book, Apuntes, thread-annotates photographs of classical Greek and Roman sculpture with suggestive pattern diagrams from weaving manuals.
Bervin’s work includes performances, drawings, and conceptual projects. She has published nine books, including Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings (Christine Burgin/New Directions, 2013), the first full-color facsimile edition of Dickinson’s manuscripts.