Former East/Former West

Shelly Silver

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Staff Picks Former East/Former West
Shelly Silver

62 Minutes

Staff Picks

January 1–31, 2024

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.

Presented as the January 2024 edition of e-flux Film’s monthly series Staff Picks.

With special thanks to Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI).

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Film, Nationalism, Capitalism, Ideology
Documentary, Cold War, Germany, Post-socialism
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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.


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