2001-2, video projector, screen, 4 dvd players, assorted monitors, synchronizer in English & Swiss German in Japanese (ONDORI)

Texts | Images | Video

"once there was a Prince who suddenly decided that he was a rooster...." 

Shelly Silver's video installation ROOSTER uses as its starting point an 18th century Jewish tale by Rabbi Nachman about a Prince who decides that he is a rooster, spending his time sitting naked under the dining room table eating stray corn that falls to the floor. All attempts to cure the prince are in vain, until a wise man appears, suggesting a different logic to him: to function as a rooster who acts like a prince....

As one enters the darkened cellar space of the Stadtgalerie, one is confronted by a larger than life-sized video projection of people from different origins, appearing naked and masked with crowns on their heads. In the backroom a deep soothing feminine voice recounts the tale of the prince. On various monitors,

Images of animated poultry, humans and everyday objects mingle to restage Rabbi Nachman's strange story. Scenes of magic, optimism and naive beauty mix with those of danger, subliminally alluding to both the thrill of changing into somebody completely different, as well as the destabilization, insanity and loss that such a change might engender. Shelly Silver uses this haunting folktale of a prince caught in an unreal reality to reflect on the fragility and vulnerability of fixed identities. –– Beate Engel, Curator, Stadtgalerie, Bern

What interests me in this strange story of roosters and royalty, is not only the sudden decision of the Prince, but also, if one takes the transformation of identity seriously, the anarchic euphoria and destabilization inherent in the idea of changing into something completely different. I insist on this euphoria, despite or even because of the precise change that is undergone in this story: from Prince to domesticated farm animal. 

Within the logic/economy of the story, a 'cure' is not made. This cure would go something like 'the Prince is convinced that he is not a rooster, realizing, once again that he is a Prince.' Instead, nothing of this sort happens. The Prince neither 'changes back' to a man, nor is 'convinced' that he is other than what he believes himself most firmly to be: a rooster. –– Shelly Silver

english/swiss german voiceover : Linda Geiser
japanese voiceover: Momoyo Torimitsu

Alison Cornyn, Eusun Kim, Raina Lampkins Fielder, Liza Johnson, Pia Lindman, Kara Lynch, Zain Mustafa, Pierre Louaver, Diane Ludin, Mark Maloof, Rachel Melman, Mandy Morrison, Maria Over, Bertha Palenzuela, Mary Patierno, Richard, Emily Roysdon, Eliane Rutishauser, Geoffrey Samuels, Go Sugimoto, Josi Stucki

thanks to
Eliane Rutishauser, Anne Hubert-Sigwart, Beate Engel, Stephen Sarrazin, Tokyo Gallery, Jorma Saarikko, Keiko Ueda, Jeremy Chien, Hiroko Muramatsu

selected exhibitions
Rooster, Stadtgalerie Bern, Switzerland
Truth be Told, Yokohama Portside Gallery, Japan

commissioned by the Stadtgalerie Bern, Switzerland for the Bern Biennale

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