Hidden Among the Leaves
Caché Parmi les Feuilles
2001-14, 8 monitors, 3 projectors, 11 vcr's, walls, gravel, benches
A collaborative installation by Shelly Silver & Nika Spalinger for the Museum for Art & History, Fribourg, Switzerland
Comprised of projectors, monitors, benches and a multitude of walls, Hidden Among the Leaves sets up a labyrinth of connecting spaces for the viewer to enter. From dark narrow corridors to cavernous waiting rooms, the light from the video monitors and projections provides the only form of illumination. The visitor must thus navigating clumsily from space to space, brushing against unseen others as he or she moves unsteadily from room to room. At the center of the installation is an enclosed room, ablaze in light and devoid of video. A faux-outside, with a gravel floor and three pole-like trees, the space is almost entirely filled with two park benches, placed back to back. It is only here that visitors can see the other people sharing the installation space.
The videos on the monitors and projection screens are all of public areas: crowds on a train station staircase descending into darkness; people sitting on benches waiting for a bus; extreme close-ups of people riding on a tram (sunlit hair on the edge of an ear, wrinkles on the back of a neck).... Although shot, for the most part, in crowded outdoor spaces, the images seem extremely private, people's expressions marked by an intense introspection. The only scene where two people touch is a repeating loop of a mother ambiguously lifting her small daughter by her fragile neck.
Hidden Among the Leaves can be seen as an experiment in quasi-public space. Using the museum as a controlled environment where interactions can take place in safety, the installation focuses on the pleasures of distance and proximity, the fragility of the social fabric that binds us, and the ambivalent feelings evoked when one realizes that one is watching and being watched.
Museum of Art & History, Fribourg, Switzerland
Cinéma du Réel, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France