'37 Stories About Leaving Home' by Visual Arts Professor Shelly Silver at Basedonart Gallery

Nicole Saldarriaga
August 02, 2021

37 Stories About Leaving Home (1996) by Associate Professor Shelly Silver is screening both in person and online at Basedonart Gallery in Düsseldorf as part of the Resonances of DiStances exhibition through August 4, 2021. The film is available for viewing here.  

This experimental documentary follows a group of Japanese women—daughters, mothers, and grandmothers, with some women as young as 15 and others as old as 82—as they discuss their lives, memories, dreams, and the familial and cultural pressures with which they contend daily. Interwoven with the stories of these women is a folk tale about a little girl who is kidnapped by an ogre and must be rescued by her mother. 

37 Stories is being shown in the context of the second exhibition of Resonances of DiStances, which Basedonart Gallery has dedicated specifically to the work of Shigeko Kubota (1937-2015) and Hanae Utamura (1980-). According to the gallery, "Both artists are or were inspired by the relationship between nature, technology, and the human being—the transfusion of the organic with the artificial. In a poetic yet unsparing manner, the works exhibited at Basendonart explore the ephemeral."  

This motif is certainly present in 37 Stories About Leaving Home, which explores the transitions undergone by modern Japanese society after the war, the tensions for Japanese women as roles changed over time, and the nature of home. 

As a project, Resonances of DiStances "addresses the individual borders and transcultural experiences of Japanese artists who were or are active in Düsseldorf and North-Rhine Westphalia"—an area that has become both one of the largest Japanese communities in Western Europe and a center for contemporary art. The full exhibit will be available for viewing until January 16, 2022.

Shelly Silver is a New York based artist working with the still and moving image. Her work explores contested territories between public and private, narrative and documentary, and—increasingly in recent years—the watcher and the watched. She has exhibited worldwide, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Yokohama Museum, the London ICA, and the London, the Singapore, New York, Moscow, and Berlin Film Festivals. Silver is Professor and Director of Moving Image in the Visual Arts Program at the School of the Arts.