Bermúdez-Silverman’s tabletop sculptures cast in Uranium glass glow under UV light. Their forms resemble items from an architectural salvage catalogue. Stucco flourishes fallen from a Neoclassical cathedral spire are conjoined with a lion’s claw feet broken off a Queen Anne wardrobe. A Rococo window becomes the picture plane. These assemblies repeat in the exhibition with only minor variations in order and colour, as though they were customised for a mass consumer market. Each would be at home in the museum gift shop.
Even without the artist’s explanation, this work is both blunt and lazy. Its references are too vague to place in the history of Western design and their contrasts are unchallenging. But the gallery text – itself a prime artefact of Art-Ideolo-GPT – suggests that Bermúdez-Silverman’s is a decolonial project intended to catch out the “pathological systems of power” hard-wired into her design trinkets. The European forms for her become weapons to bludgeon the conquistadors and to uncover the abusive history of extraction of Uranium glass’ raw materials. This is all talk, however, and brings nothing to the work which remains a poor man’s version of history or, more appropriately, a philistine collector’s absolution.