Aggregate & Cavity (3)

‘Aggregate’ and ‘Cavity (3)’ were exhibited in Into the Distance: RSA Barns-Graham Travel Award, funded by the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust and administered by the RSA, a major annual award since 2006. During this time it has provided 17 early career artists with the opportunity to travel to diverse locations across the world in order to research and develop new bodies of work. The RSA presents Paige Silverman (2021 winner) who travelled to Marseille, France. 
Glasgow and Marseille are ‘twin cities’— a bureaucratic gesture which grouts the cites together as misshapen mirrors of each other. To locate this doubling, ‘Aggregate’ looks to a commonality in the use of concrete in both places, presenting a diptych of a screen — one that exposes rather than protects the body —embedded with a tangled archive of replicable relics.

Broken and hung by duct tape amongst the screen two-faced concrete casts reconfigure abstract drawings by Le Corbusier, one of the 20th Century’s chief proponents of urban reconfiguration through concrete, entitled ‘A process of renewal in 4 stages’ (1964). The drawings depict an idealistic and violent vision for a fictitious city, and their shapes and inclinations have defined Marseille and Glasgow. On their inverse are depictions of fish, recalling a fish tank buried deep within Marseille’s metro and offering a further potential fossilised document. Chewing gum hangs between, a non-linear archive from the pavement, an absence, a defiance, and a bonding material.

A shell reconfigured into pewter in ‘Cavity (3)’ sits outside this collection as an object of pressure and compression rather than fragmentation. Here, competing material worlds are condensed into a loss– shells are broken down to make lime, the foundational element of concrete. Shells when broken down in a mass form sand, which is used in the pewter casting process as well as an aggregate in concrete. ‘Cavity (3)’ calcifies variously broken shells into a hardened instability, an ontology of a shell.

Together these objects challenge perceived material vernaculars, highlighting the inherent fluidity and instability of materials like concrete. Forming an archive that counters the 20th Century utopian proposal of concrete, they offer an alternative vision arising not from the hard exterior but from the inside, the still wet and forever unset concrete. Fragmenting and mythologising the logic of the city planner, the town twinner, and challenging notions of preservation and value within lived environments, ‘Aggregate’ questions how we assign value through the lens of history in the swath of the everything and the particular.

140 x 60 x 240 cm
Steel, black emulsion paint, duct tape, wire, concrete, soya and paraffin wax, unidentifiable compacted material found in vacant lot, pewter, limestones, chewing gum, diamantés

Cavity (3)
15 x 21 x 3 cm
Pewter, nail, chewing gum