Shelly Silver

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Silver is a New York based artist who uses video, film and photography. Her work explores the multifarious connections that tie us to place, identity and gender; the tortuous routes of pleasure and desire; the stories that are told about us and the stories we construct about ourselves. 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. 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. 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. In the 1990's, Silver 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 of documentary, essay, and story-telling techniques in works such as Former East/Former West (1994) and 37 Stories About Leaving Home (1996), Silver explores how we negotiate cultural narratives to arrive at definitions of the self. Her most recent work, the feature-length fiction suicide (2003) follows a woman's strange intercontinental voyage, chronicling her fiercely hopeful search for a reason to continue living. Shot in the genre of a personal journal film, and starring Silver herself as the fictional filmmaker heroine, suicide is an audacious act of flirting with the revelatory autobiographical. Shelly Silver was born in 1957 in Brooklyn, NY. She received a B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) in History and a B.F.A. in Mixed Media from Cornell University. She subsequently attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Her work has been exhibited throughout the US, Europe and Asia at venues such as MoMA, MoCA, The Pompidou Center, The Kyoto Museum, The ICA London, The London Film Festival and The Singapore Film Festival. Silver has received numerous fellowships and grants including from the NEA, the DAAD, NYSCA, NYFA, the Jerome Foundation and Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation. Silver currently lives in New York where she teaches at The Cooper Union and the MFA Program of Photography and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts. She is an organizer of Nomads & Residents, a group of artists, organizers and curators involved in organizing informal evening events around contemporary issues: