Shelly Silver

In Shelly Silver's enigmatic narratives of contemporary identity, truth and fiction are constantly in doubt, the veracity of what is seen and what is not seen is questioned, and the modes by which information is disclosed, withheld and mediated hold meaning. Appropriating the structures and codes of television and cinema narratives, Silver relies on the viewer's complicity — the expectation of how media stories are "read," the desire to believe and identify with their conventions and characters.

Blurring authenticity and falseness, artifice and reality ("real as compared to what?" she asks), Silver often merges stylized black-and-white film with color video, fragmented images with written text and sound, elements of documentary and melodrama with comedy. From the elusive Things I Forget to Tell Myself (1988) to the multi-leveled melodrama of The Houses That Are Left (1990), her fragmented narratives are steeped in ironic inquiry. References to broadcast advertising and television formats are informed by Silver's experience as a commercial video editor.

Investigating how contemporary identity is both reflected and constructed by television and cinema, Silver questions storytelling, role-playing and the means by which popular narratives articulate fictions of the self.

In recent years Silver has lived for extended periods outside of the United States. Her experiences as an "outside observer" in Germany, France, and Japan have led to works in which she questions the myths and realities of cultural and national identity. Interweaving modes of documentary, essay, and story-telling in works such as Former East/Former West (1995) and 37 Stories About Leaving Home (1997), Silver explores how we negotiate cultural narratives to arrive at definitions of the self.

Silver was born in 1957. She received a B.A. and a B.F.A. from Cornell University, and studied in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. She has received numerous fellowships and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Media Bureau, the New York State Council on the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, 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, Yaddo, The Macdowell Colony and at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her works have been exhibited at festivals and institutions including Kunsthalle Wien, Austria; Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, China; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Kitchen, New York; Torino International Film and Video Festival, Italy; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; World Wide Video Festival, The Hague; Berlin Film Festival; Artists Space, New York; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Halle Sud, Geneva; Laforet Art Museum, Tokyo; Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Yokohama Museum, Japan; The London ICA, and the London, the Singapore, New York, Moscow, and Berlin Film Festivals. Silver is Chair and Associate Professor of Visual Arts, School of the Arts, Columbia University and lives in New York.