V. Installation

A relatively minimalist show at first glance, the development and installation of the Silk Poems exhibition took the better part of two years. Museum staff were kept busy sourcing the microscope and projectors, converting the opening gallery wall into an exhibition element, choosing silk textiles from UMAG’s permanent collection, translating and subtitling Charlotte Lagarde’s film, creating a movie of bilingual selections from the book Silk Poems, and developing a range of programming for events scheduled around Hong Kong.

Museum Assistant Sam Law applying the first coat of paint to the intro wall
Museum Store Manager Chung Ma supervising installation of the intro text and image
Finished intro wall seen through exhibition clutter
Collections Manager Edward Zhou setting the horizontal line for the monitor
Edward, Chung and Museum Assistant Hoi Kei Wong finishing the installation of the monitor for the Silk Poems video
Kei and Sam working on wiring for the monitor and microscope
Jen Bervin onscreen with UMAG staff
UMAG designer Stephy Tsui assisting with selecting a pedestal for the microscope
The microscope for displaying the nanoimprinted poem was the first object set in the gallery space; the rest of the vitrines and pedestals then radiated out from this center point
Chung and Research Assistant Kikki Lam considering an early layout; it was later decided to move all four of the UMAG textiles to a separate section of the gallery space

Ms Bervin and Lagarde couriered most of the exhibition items with them from their home studio in Connecticut, arriving a few days before the scheduled opening.

Jen Bervin checking the nanoimprinted silk poem
Jen Bervin unpacking her Granary Books edition of Silk Poems, titled 7S (Seven Silks)
Custom enclosure for Jen Bervin’s 7S (Seven Silks)
Charlotte Lagarde and Jen Bervin discussing placement of objects in the reference material vitrine
Jen Bervin hanging the silk textile from the Rauschenberg Residency with UMAG staff Sam and May Wong
Steaming the silk textile

The morning after completing the installation, HKU's campus was locked down when a segment of the social protest movement shifted focus, barricading the university’s entrances and blocking the main road in front of the Museum. During the span of Bervin's exhibition period, entrance to UMAG was also interrupted by the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. These factors were instrumental in the Museum speeding up the timeline for launching several digital initiatives as a way to keep our doors ‘open’ to Hong Kong and global audiences.

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