details of the site-specific
installation 'Silver Room'
silver, stone, wood,
bamboo, white quartz,
1,620 x 1,490 x 600 cm
courtesy of Château La Coste
private collection (Provence, France)
images courtesy of Pham Anh Huy
a glistening box
To clad a thin silver leaf on the rock surface of “Silver Room”, we have to go through 40 steps. The most difficult one is to create the base paper on which we spread the silver – they say, “base paper is life for silver leaf”. First, we mix pine resin with sawdust, then fry the mixture in a pan over fire until dark smoke comes out and soot covers the pan’s bottom. Mix this soot with gelatin glue (made from buffalo skin) then burn over a fire at a low temperature until condense. Pound this mixture into fine black flour, and then mix it with more gelatin to create a black ink. Apply this ink onto do paper to make base paper. Place the paper pieces into a bundle, let them dry, separate each of them, dry them separately, then bundle them again.
Next, we place the silver on an anvil, hammer it into lengths, and cut into leaves. The silver leaves are put onto base paper pieces, tied into a bundle, put into a new container, and dried over the stove for one night. Then, the silversmith put the silver-paper pieces on the anvil and hammer continuously until the silver leaf is spread evenly to four corners of the base paper. The leaf is then cut into 16 small pieces then hammered again. After the hammering, the silversmith uses a small trowel to gently peel the silver leaf from the paper, place them onto 5-centimetre square aluminium paper, and tie into a bundle. Each bundle has 500 leaves. Each “chi” of silver contains 2.2 bundles (“chi” is a measuring unit, equal 3.75 gram). This process must be done in a concealed room to prevent the leaves from being blown away.
The skillful hands of the silversmith have created the natural reflection of mysterious lights in the Silver Room.
to download the press release
about the 'silver room' click: