In Objects of Empire, Bradley Borthwick thoughtfully ponders the shared cycles of civilization. Borthwick investigates the significance of two seemingly incongruent manufactured objects – an 18th century Vermont headstone, known as the Pratt tablet, and an ancient Roman amphora. Researching the historical and artistic origins of Vermont’s Dorset marble quarry, and ancient Roman storehouses, or horrea, found throughout southern Italy, the artist identified these two ubiquitous objects as powerful signifiers of memory and place, history, and cultural connection.
For his installation, Borthwick laboriously hand-carved reproductions of the Pratt tablet and an Africana-style amphora in Vermont Olympia white marble. Leaning against one another these sculptures are contrasted with multiple, cast-beeswax replicas of his carved tablet stacked against the far gallery wall. Building from notes of despondency to hopeful refrains, a rhythmic soundscape further conveys notions of production and impermanence. Separated by time, location, and culture, these objects of past empires become poignant symbols of the ascension and demise of their respective realms.
image credit: Objects of Empire, 2021 (detail)