Jun 29, 2023

Living Together With: Screening and Discussion with Shelly Silver

Living Together With: Screening and Discussion with Shelly Silver

Shelly Silver, We (still), 1990.

Admission starts at $5

Join us at e-flux Screening Room on Thursday, February 2 at 7pm for Living Together With, a screening of four films by Shelly Silver featuring Things I Forget to Tell Myself, We, Meet the People, and a tiny place that is hard to touch followed by an in-person Q&A with the artist.

Shelly Silver is a renowned artist who has been making films for nearly thirty years, working at the intersection of documentary, fiction, video art, and experimental film. Her moving-image works often examine different subject positions and kinds of storytelling, the contradictory nature of memories, and the tensions between real and constructed, individual actions, and collective responsibility. In her debut docu-fiction Meet the People (1986), which is set squarely in the “Morning in America” Reagan era, Silver explores the vibration between how identity is constructed or projected, especially when a camera is involved, and our idea about the true and the false. Many of her later films are also examinations of place, intimacy, and boundaries, putting emphasis on the diversity and complexity of the (personal, sensual, physical, social) fabric in, and with which, we live. In the works featured in this special screening, Silver sustains the ambiguity of the real while deconstructing prevailing patriarchal representations that perpetuate existing ways of seeing, as well as exposes the inevitably political character of the practice of filmmaking itself.

The screening is part of Revisiting Feminist Moving Image, a series at e-flux Screening Room aimed at revisiting the origins, contexts, developments, and impact of feminist video art and experimental cinema around the world from the 1960s through the present.


Meet the People (1986, 16 minutes) Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, truth and artifice, Meet the People presents fourteen “characters” who face the camera in talking-head close-ups and speak about their lives and dreams. The intimacy and honesty of their fragmented, “autobiographical” storytelling is illusory; the credits reveal that these people are professional actors, playing fictional roles, reading a script. The work points to the complicity on the part of the viewer in her/his desire to believe and identify with the traditions of and characters on TV. The same television that mimics a perfected form of identity of the “average person” is also in part responsible for creating this identity; it both researches, uses, and manufactures this “average person’s” hopes and dreams. And so the question of the existence of a “real” person becomes “real” compared to what?

Things I Forget to Tell Myself (1989, 2 minutes) “In Shelly Silver’s Things I Forget To Tell Myself, a fragmented textual statement is interspersed with imagery culled from NYC, much of it cropped by the camera operator’s outstretched hand. Buildings, windows, signs, pedestrians, cops and doors constitute a continuum of access and obstruction. The sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous patterns of disclosure and withholding, recognition and inobservance, are scrutinized to reveal the imprints of psychological processes and cultural codes, while testing boundaries between seeing and reading.” (Michael Nash, curator, The Long Beach Museum of Art)

We (1990, 4 minutes) A short, graphically dynamic work contrasting contradictory views of perception and interpretation, by way of society’s assumptions vis-a-vis phallocentrism and fetishism.

a tiny place that is hard to touch (触れがたき小さな場所) (2019, 38 minutes) In a faceless apartment in Tatekawa, Tokyo, an American woman hires a Japanese woman to translate interviews about Japan’s declining birth rate. The American woman is presumptuous in her knowledge of Japan; the Japanese woman suffers from a self-professed excess of critical distance. They grate, fight, and crash together in love or lust, at which point their story gets hijacked into science-fiction territory, as the translator interrupts their work sessions with stories from a world infected with the knowledge of its own demise. This neighborhood has already known devastation, having been wiped out the night of March 9th, 1945, by American bombs. The third protagonist is the Tatekawa itself, the canal covered by an elevated highway that runs past the translator’s apartment, which gives the neighborhood its name. Reflecting back the concrete world in distorted patterns of blue, green or glittering black, the Tatekawa transports a shifting procession of birds, shoes, condoms, crabs, plastic bags, flowers, big fish, little fish, death, life.

For more information, contact [email protected].

Accessibility –Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue. –For elevator access, please RSVP to [email protected]. The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space. –e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the Screening Room and this bathroom.

Shelly Silver is a New York-based artist working with the still and moving image. Her work explores contested territories between public and private, narrative and documentary, and—increasingly in recent years—the watcher and the watched. She has exhibited worldwide, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Yokohama Museum, the London ICA, and the London, the Singapore, New York, Moscow, and Berlin Film Festivals. Silver has received fellowships and grants from organizations such as the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, the Jerome Foundation, the Japan Foundation and Anonymous was a Woman. Her films have been broadcast by BBC/England, PBS/USA, Arte/Germany, France, Planete/Europe, RTE/Ireland, SWR/Germany, and Atenor/Spain, among others, and she has been a fellow at the DAAD Artists Program in Berlin, the Japan/US Artist Program in Tokyo, Cité des Arts in Paris, and at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her most recent film Girls | Museum (2020, 71 minutes) was awarded the 3SAT Prize for Best German Documentary. Silver is Professor and Director of Moving Image in the Visual Arts Program, School of the Arts, Columbia University.

Living Together With: Screening and Discussion with Shelly SilverDateLiving Together With,Shelly Silver Revisiting Feminist Moving ImageFilmsMeet the PeopleThings I Forget to Tell Myself We a tiny place that is hard to touch (触れがたき小さな場所) Accessibility Shelly Silver