Video/Installation Work 2003
-- is a video installation that explores the memories of an eighty-year-old San Francisco woman who had many harrowing experiences during the McCarthy Era.
The stories presented herein are divided into three parts. In "The Story of Westover Field," Silver recalls her detention at Westover Field air base. En route to Germany to help with reconstruction efforts, she was held for several weeks without explanation or representation. "Patricia Silver on Her Father, McCarthy, and Hollywood Communism" recounts her reoccurring trials with federal agents as she tried to hide her father and friends. Her father, Val Burton, was a blacklisted screenwriter and a self-professed member of the Communist Party. (Silver herself did not share his political affiliations.) Her friends included Haakon and Barbara Chevalier of the infamous "Chevalier Incident." (This scandal broke when Robert Oppenheimer, of the Manhattan Project, was manipulated into naming members of the Berkeley leftist circles in which he once swirled, including names of his longtime friends. Chevalier was, consequently, falsely accused of being a communist spy.)
In part three of the video, "Patricia Silver on the Current Climate and Speaking Out," Silver draws parallels between the McCarthy Era and today's political mood. Citing examples such as the Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore, she reminds viewers that to speak out and voice critical dissent IS patriotic, as the freedom to do so is one of the very basic foundations of Americanism.
See an excerpt at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIqF-Q5uchg&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL.
Roane Redux: This piece was presented as a 3-projector installation.
There are many legends about roanes, also called selkies, in the British Isles. Selkies are seals in the sea, but they take human form on land to seduce humans. In my favorite selkie tale, a man falls so deeply in love with a female selkie that he hides her skin so she cannot go back to the sea and leave him. They marry and have children. Eventually, though, she grows very sad because she longs to return to her own element. She finds her skin hidden in an attic trunk and glides off into the night to reclaim her freedom and happiness.
As I went through the footage, I was concentrating on pushing and pulling it as a material. I was honing in on lighting, texture, space and gesture. Through the piece I also explore costuming as expression of identity; creating personal mythology; and constructing selfhood
UNTITLED: A-BOMB EXPLOSIONS; V2 FUSES: PARTS 1, 2 (no YouTube links)
I had intriguing scrap stock footage left over from my piece, PATRICIA SILVER'S STORIES. I was struck by how a-bomb explosions were so beautiful formally when they represented such ugly things: ugly decisions, ugly policies, ugly paradigms and the ugliest side of human nature. So I chose to push this formal beauty as far as I could by applying filters and superimpositions to make the footage as visually seductive and painterly as I could. Peers called it "creepy."
V2 Fuses: Parts 1,2 is another exploration of the same theme. Old grainy footage of these explosions falling from the sky was similarly beautiful, but not as readily recognizable as the ubiquitous image of the mushroom cloud. Again I worked as a painter with digital video, applying filters upon filters and stacking superimpositions high as a sky scraper.