SUSAN SILAS
     

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© 2011 by Susan Silas
           

video


The two words I know in Arabic, 2014

The two words I know in Arabic
, 2014 is an HD video.

Running time: :32

The Woodpecker's Dream, 2013

After more than a decade shooting found birds, they have begun to come to me as gifts. The first such gift was a bird from a Brooklyn yard, found early one morning by my friend Ellen, who spends a good deal of time tending her small but somehow regal fenced in garden. Many years later, my friend Dawn happened upon a newly dead raven on the roadside in upstate New York. She hastened home for a plastic bag and preserved that majestic creature in her freezer for me until I could come up and fetch it. And most recently my friend Roger came upon this solemn and beautiful red headed woodpecker in the middle of Manhattan. He instantly thought to email me to see if I would like to have it. My friend Lisa froze a small bat for me. I photographed him too, but less successfully.

The Woodpecker's Dream is a two-channel HD video and is part of the ongoing series found birds, 2000 - the present.

Running time: :24

The Woodpecker's Dream has its premiere exhibition at Dinter Fine Art Project Room, May - June, 2014.

fly like the wind, 2013

fly like the wind, 2013 is an HD video. It was shot in Everglades National Park and is part of the ongoing series found birds, 2000 - the present.

Running time: 4:01

Treblinka Song and The Happy Wanderer, 2012

(text in German)

One of the folk songs I remember from my childhood in America is The Happy Wanderer. The song was composed in Germany after the Second World War, perhaps in an attempt to fill the void created when folk songs handed down for generations became associated with National Socialism. The song was composed by Friederich Wilhelm Möller and was called Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann or Der fröhliche Wanderer. It was broadcast on the BBC radio the year I was born and became an instant hit. The song was sung by the Obernkirchen Children's choir; a choir composed mainly of German orphans, making an arresting impression and solving the problem of Nazi parentage. In the United States, they sang the song on the Ed Sullivan show, once in 1964 and again in 1966.

I thought about this "clean" folk song when I heard Franz Suchomel sing for Claude Lanzmann in Shoah. He sings a song that he claims Jews were forced to memorize when they arrived at Treblinka. Then he comments with some pride; "That is an original. No Jew today knows how to sing that anymore!" And I imagined people stepping into the gas chamber with that Treblinka Song stuck in their heads.

My parents endured the war in Eastern Europe, my father in a labor camp and my mother in a Jewish ghetto. They emigrated to the United States in 1949. I have passed both of these songs along to my daughter, born in the United States in 1993.

Running time: 5:17

Shown here - an excerpted clip
Running time: 1:31

THAW II, 2012

THAW II, 2012 is a 2 channel HD video and is part of a series I have worked on for over a decade entitled found birds, 2000 – the present. In this case, the dead bird — a pigeon — is encased in ice and what we see with the passage of time is not the decay of the bird, which is preserved by virtue of the cold, but rather its gradual release from something akin to the suspension of time. And where it bleeds anew, even after death.

Running time: 7:13

A child of sixties television singing songs that got stuck in her head, 2010

A child of sixties television singing songs that got stuck in her head, 2010 depicts me singing popular opening theme songs from late 50s and 60s television shows. My isolated serenade is captured as I sing to my reflection in a large mirror.

In 2011, I showed this video at CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles. It is made up of eleven clips. You can see a low res version of the tape at the link above. They are now also posted as individual songs on YouTube. Here are the links to all eleven songs in the order in which they appear on the original full length tape. Danger Man, Rawhide, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Branded, Superman, Bat Masterson, Flipper, The Mickey Mouse Club, Star Trek, and The Roy Rogers Show.

Total running time: 13:30

embrace, 2010

embrace, 2010 is a stop motion animation HD video. It is part of the ongoing series entitled found birds, 2000 - the present.

Running time: :07

fly like the wind, 2009

fly like the wind, 2009 is part of the ongoing series; found birds 2000 - the present.

Running time: 3:00

untitled (11-14 May 1998), 2001


untitled (11-14 May 1998), 2001 was shot in Poland at:  Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzéc, the four camps whose exclusive function for Nazi Germany was the manufacture of death. This four channel video slowly drains itself of color to leave a set of black and white images while the ambient sound of birds singing is gradually replaced by the sound of film moving through a projector gate. While shot in the present, the footage, once drained of color, simulates the archival imagery that has formed the collective memory of the Nazi genocide, despite the absence of the archival footage to which these specific images would refer.

Running time: 8:20

Re unifications, 2001

Re unifications, 2001 is a three channel video that was shot in Berlin. One channel was shot in "West" Berlin on the grounds of the Olympic Stadium built for Hitler's 1936 Summer Games. When I was there, the stadium was in the midst of preparations to host a Rolling Stones concert. The other two channels were shot in "East" Berlin inside the Jewish Cemetery at Weißensee. This large urban cemetery survived both the Third Reich and the Soviet domination of East Germany. While largely untended, the cemetery remained intact.

Running time: 1:23