In the 21st century our image of a globalized world seems paradoxical to the heavy increase in barriers designed to create or maintain divisions. The interpretation of the wall is just as striking from a geopolitical point of view as from the artistic. And it is exactly this point that captures our interest : let's think !
American video-artistShelly Silverproposes a groundbreaking work. The documentary Former East / Former West collected together interviews with Berliners made just two years after the fall of the wall. These reflect two realities now united in a single democratic government. There is an obvious need for a redefinition of identity, but they did not fully appreciate what this meant, and there is a palpable atmosphere of doubt mixed with willingness and nostalgia. Their testaments are fascinating, not only for their contemporaneity but also because they reveal to us this decisive moment of the end of the cold war.
The documentary has been shown in well-known institutions such as Berlin´s Berlinische Galerie, the Lincoln Centre and the MoMA in New York, the MUAC (University’s Museum of Contemporary Art) in Mexico...
Former East / Former West by Shelly Silver. Documentary film, 1994, 62 min. German OV, English subtitles
"Anyone who wants to better understand why it is so difficult to 'merge what belongs together' will want to see this film." Dr. Christopher Stomach, New Hampshire German Symposium
"Dealing with the early years of reunification, Shelly Silver’s hour-long film Former East/Former West (1994) presents a compelling portrait of the mental landscape that prevails in a persistently divided Germany. In interviews with a fascinating range of individuals on the street, Silver probes attitudes towards notions of de- mocracy, socialism, history, foreigners and nationality. Gradually outlining a substantial disparity in the experience of the “Wessies,” for whom little had changed, and the “Ossies,” whose daily lives were often transformed, the film’s value as a historical document is based on its ability to deconstruct stereotypes of East and West. However, it leaves the unsettling question of whether today’s responses might be at all different — a valuable starting point for a discussion worth pursuing."