“On the Possibility of Salvage” explored themes of piracy through a motley collection of objects smuggled, seized, or recovered, with connections to illicit cargo and contraband. The front room was staged as a ‘library of loss’, or a custom’s storage room caught in medias res, presents paper mache replicas of objects, some on top of or in wooden boxes, as if just seized by the authorities.
For this exhibition, Glynn weaves together themes of salvage and piracy, centering on a room-sized sculpture of a ship’s hull in partial wreckage. Alluding to trade and trafficking, the shipwreck allows Glynn to tease out the stories of a motley collection of objects smuggled, seized, or recovered, with connections to illicit cargo and contraband. The boat hull takes its form from a British smuggling cutter used to evade authorities during the height of 18th century Colonial trade. This body of work was made against the backdrop of a rise in piracy off the shores of Somalia, where ransoms take the form of abstract currency, rather than the physical stores of wealth seized in earlier times.
The gallery’s front room, staged as a ‘library of loss’, or a custom’s storage room caught in medias res, presents paper mache replicas of objects, some on top of or in wooden boxes, as if just seized by the authorities. The replicas range from Ming dynasty porcelain plates and ancient bronze busts to bullet-ridden oars, and stolen garments. In chronicling these stories of property as loot, Glynn invites us to reflect on the social and historical forces that objects, and often artworks, are caught in, but also on larger ideas of time, transitoriness and transgression.
The installation was be activated in a one-time performance, Reverse Siren Song, which recasts the passive image of sirens luring sailors to shipwreck with their music to that of active bodies propelled by desire for the ship. The performance featured four classically trained opera singers, Beverly Vanessa Hill, Melissa Gerstein, Heather Meyer, and Holly Nadal. They will travel to the gallery by foot and ferry from different points outside Manhattan while humming distinct segments of a siren song. As the vocalists approach the gallery, the fragments become integrated into one piece of music. The music is taken from Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), the final aria in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Forze del Destino, and several traditional maritime hymns. Lyrics were compiled from text fragments including Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem The Wreck, a contemporary ransom letter from a company of Somali pirates, and Daniel Defoe’s A General History of the Pyrates.