Staff Picks: Shelly Silver

Staff Picks: Shelly Silver


Shelly Silver, Former East/Former West (clip), 1994. Courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

January 5, 2024
Staff Picks: Shelly Silver
Former East/Former West
January 1–January 31, 2024
Instagram / Facebook

e-flux Film is very pleased to present the January 2024 edition of our monthly series Staff Picks, featuring Shelly Silver’s film Former East/Former West (1994, 65 minutes).

Shot in Berlin in 1992–1993 after reunification, Former East/Former West is an essay about national identity in post-Cold War Germany. Hundreds of street interviews, conducted throughout the city, document how the people of Berlin view their lives, their city, their nation—three years after the fall of the Wall and two years after the reunification of East and West. For forty-five years, residents of the divided city lived radically different lives, both in terms of ideology and everyday experience. Silver questions the very notion of a shared language, focusing on changing definitions of words for political and economic systems—democracy, freedom, capitalism, socialism—and words used to describe nations and identity—nationality, Germany, history, foreigners, home. Uncovering personal and ideological concepts of boundaries and German identity (who belongs and who doesn’t), Silver explores the meanings and uses of national identity.

Former East/Former West will stream on e-flux Film from January 1 through January 31, 2024.

With special thanks to Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI).

Watch the film here.

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, Cité des Arts in Paris, Bogliasco, and Tokyo Art & Space/TOKAS. 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.

Staff Picks is a monthly streaming series on e-flux Film of recommended videos designed to disrupt the monotony of an algorithm. Before the end times of big data, we used to discover suggested content along dusty shelves in video rental stores, where Post-it notes scribbled by shift workers implored us to experience the same movies that made them guffaw, scream, or weep. Sometimes the content bored us, sometimes it overwhelmed us, and sometimes, as if by magic, it was just right. e-flux invites you to relive this rental store mode of perusal, with personalized picks curated through judgment that does not take into consideration your viewing history. 

For more information, contact program [​at​]

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January 5, 2024

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