Shelly Silver seems to totally lack humility in terms of the relevance and sustainability of her own project. She takes up space and time with an unusual self-esteem that oozes Reputable Art Filmmaker.
The New York-based artist, photographer and videomaker is previously known for works that deal with the uncertain boundaries between the “Private versus Public”, i.e., the private versus the public sphere. Silver has been represented at what one would call elitist venues – including MoMA, Tate, Berlin, London and the Moscow International Film Festival. Additionally, she is an Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Program at Columbia University.
Ambitious and arrogant? An empty luxury residence is presented in single shots and compiled video triptychs onto a black background. The section is small at the start, before it turns large. Video is being assembled with text. The video section changes within the image, skipping from one side to another. The text is supplemented or repeated by different voice-overs.
The lack of connecting narratives or a red thread creates a distance. At the same time, the overloaded and ambitious bombardment of text and images requires a lot of attention. Silver doesn’t care if we follow or if she takes up too much space. Nor does she care whether the editing, the lighting, the selection of filmed objects or text fragments keeps us interested. A tension occurs in the dissonance between the various elements.
In her insistent belief in the excellency of her own project, she creates a dynamic that offers an entrance. As a spectator, I give in, involuntary and impressed. Captured by the fact that she doesn’t open up to the slightest doubt. Silver works in a monumental way. Not only in terms of ambition, but also in terms of the conceptual interweaving of elements. She works on fine-tuning her inter-conceptual narrative rhythm and her video triptychs.
Seductive, self-ironic, meaningful. The stringency of the numerous triptychs has its own massive and seductive quality. As three coherent units in time with various cuts they both deepen, enrich and elevate each other. The synergy effect of the assembled video footage elevates them from being just observations and objects to become a higher, more striking expression pointing beyond themselves.
The single cuts do not hold the same vitality. It is in the multifaceted that Silver shines – also in a textual manner. She talks about a child’s experience of pain, and further about how a child learns that a cat also feels pain. She makes the spectator aware of the small nuances through an ever-insisting dissonance between the narrator and the text. Or maybe the nuances are not small at all?
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