Since 2016, the non-profit project silent green Film Feld Forschung, with the support by the Goethe-Institut, has invited an artist to Berlin each year to research with and in the language of the medium of film. It is not the finished product that counts, but above all the engagement in the process of creating an artistic work. The residency is therefore not purpose-bound, but is intended to generate synergies with the unique location, the listed former crematorium Wedding and its cultural-historical significance. In 2016 and 2017, the film and media artists Maha Maamoun and Shelly Silver were guests, in 2021 the artist and filmmaker Oliver Husain and in 2022 the artist duo XiuXiu.
In addition to living and working spaces in Berlin, the Kuppelhalle and the Atelier spaces of silent green are also open to the artists for events. With our Centre for Audiovisual Research and the associated studio house, they are also provided with fully equipped and large-scale experimental fields since 2019. There, the audiovisual will be dissected, analysed and transformed into its building blocks of image, sound and language under laboratory conditions.
Xiu Xiu tries to make music for people opposed to and opposed by the horror and disquiet of life.
They have been called “self flagellating,” “harsh,” “brutal,” “shocking,” and “perverse;” but also “genius,” “brilliant,” “unique,” “imaginative,” and “luminous.”
Xiu Xiu draws upon musical traditions of British post punk, 20th century classical, industrial noise, experimental and traditional percussion musics, 50s rock and roll, field recordings, queer dance pop and kosmische musik.
Over the last two decades Xiu Xiu released 20 studio albums, collaborated with Merzbow, Dahn Vo, Eugene Robinson, Haitian drumming master Daniel Brevil. Mantra Percussion, and Lawrence English and recorded reinterpretations of the music of Nina Simone (NINA), American religious songs (Unclouded Sky), Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and the music of Twin Peaks (Plays The Music of Twin Peaks). They are also frequent contributors to the Berlin based art collective CHEAP.
Xiu Xiu has toured relentlessly all over the world. They have shared stages with Sun Ra Arkestra, Ben Frost, Zola Jesus, Deerhoof, Prurient, Liars, Swans, Matmos, Faust, Grouper, Genesis P Orridge, Angelo Badalamenti and thousands, perhaps billions, of other unstoppable musical fairies, dignitaries and saints.
They have created museum installations for the Berlin and Venice biennales, The Guggenheim, LACMA, the Getty Museum, Walker Museum and Laguna Art Museum.
Both members also work outside of Xiu Xiu. Hyunhye Seo is a video director and has a growing solo experimental and noise music practice. Jamie Stewart is a recording and remix engineer and will have his first novel published next year.
The band’s 21st album will be released in March of 2023.
Artist and filmmaker Oliver Husain is based in Toronto, Canada. Husain’s projects often begin with fragment of history, a rumour, a personal encounter or a distant memory. He uses a wide range of cinematic languages and visual pleasures — such as dance, puppetry, costume, special effects — to animate his research and fold the viewers into complex narrative set-ups.
Example of Work: DNCB
Kerstin Schroedinger & Oliver Husain
Multi-channel installation, 16mm, 5.30 min, silent / video, 9.50 min, sound / audio interviews, 10 min / 2021
DNCB stands for Dinitrochlorobenzene. It is a yellow-ish, crystalline, and highly toxic chemical used in colour film processing in analogue photography. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the substance was also used as a treatment in alternative AIDS therapies.
The installation combines layered images and sounds that reflect on the complex history of this chemical substance and the self-organised communities who used it.
There are three separate channels: A 16mm film, hand-processed with non-toxic organic ingredients such as coffee, Turmeric and St John’s wort; a video performance enacting gestures and actions taken from oral and written accounts about the specific use of the chemical; and audio interviews with HIV/AIDS activists about their experiences with DNCB in the 1980s and 1990s.
1999: Ron & Leo (video)
2001: Lavawoche / Krustenwoche (exhibition and performance with Claus Richter and Sergej Jensen)
2003: Q (video)
Betty Ford (video with Michel Klöfkorn and Anna Berger)
2005: Squiggle (video)
2007: Mount Shasta (film)
Five Thinking Hats (film and performance)
Two Half Reasons (exhibition and performance)
2008: Green Dolphin (video)
2009: Purfled Promises (video)
Leona Alone (video)
2010: Dear What's Your Face (video installation)
Hovering Proxies (exhibition and film)
2012: Item Number (Video)
Moth Maze (Video installation)
2013: Parade (video)
Pandy Ramada's Bendable Displex (exhibition and performance)
cinema aporia (exhibition)
2014: not wanting to make a decision, but taking a stance anyway (choreography)
C**kie M*nster *nterpreter (Livestream performance / with Amy Lam)
Foyer Forest Feelings (Livestream screening performance / with Victoria Cheung)
2015: Mondo Pale Grey / Nouveau Peony (performance)
beside the point (exhibition)
Ye Olde Oakville Multiplex est 1983 (exhibition)
2016: Isla Santa Maria (3D video and exhibition)
you are the gracious, toe-twirled stumbler (exhibition)
Galleria Cruise (video)
2017: were here (video and exhibition)
hair animation in Singapore (research residency)
Les Sheeks (drawings)
Three Hangers (Wandobjekte)
Model Economy (video)
2018: French Exit (video and exhibition)
performance about a woman (collaboration with and set design for Liz Peterson)
WEM Panorama (drawings)
2019: Garden of the Legend of the Golden Snail (imax 3D)
vista point (performance / with Anni Spadafora)
2020: Streamy Windows (Livestream performance)
Thonk Piece (Livestream with Mary Messhausen and produzentin)
2021: DNCB (3-channel-installation / with Kerstin Schroedinger)
The work of video- and film artist Shelly Silver (born 1957, New York) may best be described as something akin to experimental documentary. After graduating with a dual Bachelor in Intellectual History and Mixed Media from the University Cornell in 1980, she attended the San Francisco Art Institute’s Summer School and subsequently found the medium which still captivates her to this day: Film. She further engaged with the medium at the Whitney Studio Program, followed up by work as a film editor, the results of which are still visible in her meticulously composed films. Fellowships from Germany and Japan allowed her to visit both countries in the years following 1992. The resulting films Former East/Former West (1994) and 37 Stories About Leaving Home (1996) explore questions about the formation of cultural identity and gender. Silver's work in film, video, and photography spans an eclectic range of subject matter and genres, exploring the personal and societal relations that identify and restrict us. Besides her artistic work, Silver is Associate Professor and Director of Moving Image of the Visual Arts Program at Columbia University.
Her work has been exhibited at the MoMa in New York, Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Yokohama Museum, London ICA as well as film festivals in London, Singapur, New York, Moscow and Berlin.
Silver's experimental approach negotiates the structure and meaning of the documentary form itself. This already begins with Meet the People (1986), a video work in which the "talking heads" of seemingly autobiographical interviews turn out to be actors and raise fundamental questions about identity and self-presentation: To what extent is a persona created in front of and through the camera? And how do fiction and narration thus inscribe themselves in the documentary form? What does this mean for their postulated claim to truth?
Silver also confronts the other fundamental question of documentary in her works - the relationship between the observer and the observed. The voyeuristic device, which is composed of the filmmaker, the filmed and the viewer, does not appear static in her works, but is constantly observed and questioned in itself in a fluctuating manner. This is the case, for example, in TOUCH (2013), which takes the point of view of a fictional character observing his neighbourhood in Chinatown, or suicide (2003), in which a suicidal filmmaker embodied by Silver herself wanders through the alienating cityscapes of Japan. The characters behind the camera here could not be more different, and the lenses through which they perceive their surroundings are just as different.
Shelly Silver experiments with the power dynamics that exist between the filmmaker and her subject, bringing their operating mechanisms to light. And the viewers are also implicated in Silver's viewing arrangements: „The eye is an orifice, and we are changed by what we see“1 (S. Silver)
This fine line between distance and intimacy is also reflected in Silver's preferred setting: urban space as a contested territory between the public and the private. She forges connections between ephemeral spaces, both physical and metaphysical, and above all she creates material connections between people, points of intersection between the I and the We, the individual and the collective.
„Much of my work functions as a motor for contact between people who are randomly or loosely selected. My initial work is to set up a structure where meetings can take place, as well as fixing a question or subject around which to make contact and exchange.“2 (S. Silver) In Silvers Werk eröffnet der Film multiple Blicke auf die Welt, neue Artikulationsmöglichkeiten sowie einen veränderten Rahmen für zwischenmenschliche Begegnungen, in denen Geschichte(n) neu imaginiert werden kann: „Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt caught by the world. My way out is to look, to analyze, to ask, to go back and trawl for lost histories, and then to imagine something different. Film is good for that.“3 (S. Silver)
1986: Meet the People
1989: Things I Forget to Tell Myself
1989: getting in.
1991: The Houses That Are Left
1994: April 2nd
Former East/Former West
1996: 37 Stories About Leaving Home
1999: small lies, Big Truth
2004: What I’m Looking For
2008: in complete world
2009: 5 lessons & 9 questions about Chinatown
2015: The Lamps
frog spider hand horse house
2017: A Strange New Beauty
2001–2014: Hidden Among the Leaves/Caché Parmi les Feuilles
2004: What I’m Looking For
2008: exceptional happenings
Events at silent green
Silver was a fellow of the Film Feld Forschung residency programme in 2017 and used numerous opportunities to present new and old works. In addition, during her residency she specially shot two new short films, Turn and This Film, as part of the silent green project Stoffwechsel, which are part of an experiment to accelerate the so-called vinegar syndrome, a decomposition process of acetate film material. The experiment is scheduled to run for three years and can be seen at MARS.
Berliner Premiere of TOUCH, screening and talk
About Animals; Screenings, Reading and talk with Shelly Silver and Maha Maamoun
Forum Expanded 2018 opening, Premiere of two short films
1. Shelly Silver (2015), In the Studio, Interview mit Steel Stillman. In: Art in America, April 2015, S. 98-105. S. 104
2. Shelly Silver (2008), Three Questions for Shelly Silver, Interview mit John Menick. Blog: Art, film prose & politics.
3. Shelly Silver (2015), In the Studio
Maha Maamoun is an intermedial artist, working primarily in the medium of film and photography. Born 1972 in California, at age five her family moved to Kairo, where Maamoun has been living and working ever since. After completing her studies of economy, she graduated from the Masters Program in Middle Eastern History at the American University Cairo. In 2004 she co-founded the independent art initiative Contemporary Image Collective (CIC). Maamouns own work focuses on the impact and reception of photographic images and new media. Maamoun disrupts and renders visible structure of viewing through intervening in her photographic material, by means of techniques like collaging, cutting, editing, montage and digital rendering, using material ranging from found footage and Youtube videos to film extracts.
Maamouns work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; MoMA, ICP, New Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; MuHKA, Antwerp; MATHAF – Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Beirut Art Center, Beirut; Makan, Amman; Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Haus der Kunst, Munich. Her Solo-Shows include Lingering in Vicinity at the Gypsum Gallery in 2014, The Night of Counting the Years at Fridericianum Kassel in 2014 und The Law of Existence at the Sursock Museum Beirut in 2017.
Maamoun works with interventions in filmic-photographic materials to disrupt and make visible the gaze relationships inscribed in them. Her techniques include collaging through editing, montage and digital processing. She uses a variety of different sources, from historical film clips to found footage and trivial literature to YouTube videos. These juxtapositions serve her as starting points for a reflection on the cement that holds personal and national narratives together and the cracks that become visible in them. Reality and fiction are not clearly separated here, but are mixed, broken down and recomposed to create a complexity that defies simplistic attributions.
Work example: Domestic Tourism II
Maamoun's practice of critical image viewing exposes the intersections of different regimes of gaze, be they political, personal or global. In her film montage Domestic Tourism II, for example, Maamoun evokes the pyramids of Giza as a national political symbol. She combines excerpts from the history of Egyptian cinema from 1950 to the present in which the pyramids appear as a motif: "In these scenes, the pyramids are always visible in the background. [...] I was interested in how and when this symbol of Egypt comes into the picture as a background foil and to what extent its instrumentalisation and politicisation by the various political regimes comes into view in the process - the different political messages attributed to the pyramids over time." M. Maamoun A tension between the public and the private is opened up, an intersection of politics, emotion and memory. The chronological re- and progression of the images in Maamoun's montage reveals changes in political symbolism, as well as the diverse personal memories and emotions of the Egyptian public linked to these images.
But the Western view is also questioned: to what extent do the pyramids appear here in a different way than in the processed postcard perspective and in the sensational film images from Hollywood? What view do we take of the land of Egypt, what images of it are generated in the West, and how can these in turn be traced back to Orientalist practices? It is an activation of images in a new context that takes place here, a questioning of the present through the past.
Maha Maamoun's work combines the quality of transformation; familiar motifs are given a new value through minimal changes. It is a conversation of images with themselves, their reception and dissemination.
2003: Cairoscapes (photo series)
2004: Secure, In a
Furnished Flat in Cairo (installation)
2005: Domestic Tourism I (photo series)
2008: Most Fabulous Place (film)
El-Sayyida Park #1+2 (photography)
To the Future and Back (photography)
Domestic Tourism II (film)
2010: 2026 (film)
2011: Night Visitor: The Night of Counting the Years (film)
2013: Shooting Stars Remind me of Eavesdroppers (film)
2015: Untitled (Parrot) (photography)
2016: Dear Animal (film)
2017: The Subduer (photo series)
Events at silent green
During her scholarship stay, Maamoun spoke several times about her artistic work in the context of workshop talks and screenings, presented her own works as well as films that are references and starting points for her works.
Like Milking a Stone workshop talk with Maha Maamoun, 29.05.2016
About Animals Screenings, reading and talk with Shelly Silver and Maha Maamoun, 08.09.2017
Retreat - A Rehearsal An evening with Maha Maamoun; guests: Haytham el-Wardany and Mohamed A. Gawad, 11.09.2017