Meet the People
1986, 16:32 min, color, video

Texts | Images | Video

Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, truth and artifice, Meet the People presents fourteen 'characters' who face the camera in talking head close-ups and speak about their lives and dreams. The intimacy and honesty of their fragmented, 'autobiographical' storytelling is illusory; the credits reveal that these people are professional actors, playing fictional roles, reading a script. 

The work points to the complicity on the part of the viewer in his desire to believe and identify with the traditions of and characters on TV. The same television that mimics a perfected form of identity of the 'average person' is also in part responsible for creating this identity; it both researches, uses and manufactures this 'average person's' hopes and dreams. And so the question of the existence of a 'real' person becomes 'real' compared to what?

"The fictions of the self overtly concern Shelly Silver in her tour-de-force Meet The People. In video verite style, she swiftly intercuts what appear to be her interviews of 14 individuals representing contemporary New York types: a cabby, a waitress, a housewife, a stripper, an Italian construction worker, a black army officer. At the end the credits reveal that all 14 are actors and all were apparently reading Silver's script.... Silver wittily questions the very idea of the authentic - ultimately she implies, 'personal truth' is a momentary and collaborative invention, a triborough bridge between actor, author-director, and audience - on TV and on the street." Anne Hoy, Curator, International Center of Photograph

starring: Carol Weinstein, Gahan Haskins, Lisa Wo, Peter Onorati, Leila Kenzle, Lloyd T. Williams, Jeremiah Bosgang, Camille Marshall, Kurt Ericksoon, Annie Rae Etheridge, Brenda Lynn Bynum, Elizabeth Rose, Maureen Curtin, Rita Perrault.

written, directed, edited: Shelly Silver
director of photography: John Kraus
production manager: James Ovitt
assistant director: Deborah Bonner
makeup/hair/stylist: Laurie Aiello
production facility: Rough Cut Video
post-production facility: Rebo Associates

select screenings
Tendance Multiple, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Images of American Pop Culture, Laforet Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; D&S, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany; Centre For Contemporary Art, Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, Poland; Video Viewpoints, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The New Who's Who, Hoffman Boorman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Fake, The New Museum, NYC; The International Center for Photography, NYC; Torino International Film Festival, Italy; Order Of Facts, Achim Kubinsky Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany; A Few Minutes Before the Year 2000, Capp Street Project, San Francisco, CA; The Center for Photography, Woodstock, NYC; Houston International Film Festival, Texas; The World Wide Video Festival, The Hague, The Netherlands; Pacific Film Archives, CA; Buying In and Selling Out, Artists Space, NYC; real[work] Werkleitz Biennale, Germany

Silver Award, Best Experimental Fiction, The Houston International Film Festival
Grand Prize, Daniel Wadsworth Video Festival, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT.