This entry was posted on September 18th, 2018

By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Unpacking Guli Silberstein’s Never twice the same color, a portrait of his life in New York prior to 9/11, is a daunting task. Previous to this documentary, Silberstein had already created a body of work leaning quite a lot to the political spectrum, specially in his remarkable shorts Cry havoc (2017) and  Stuff as dreams (2016) where the resource of glitch media and noise (much abused gimmicks in contemporary moving image but proper tools of emphasis in Silberstein’s hands) is used as a testimony of the fragility of the image, as document and memory.

This element of deconstructing the image to accentuate its expressiveness is pivotal in Never twice the same color. Not only is the documentary quite powerful in itself (so much to digest: Israel – Palestine , 9/11, the political and personal) but the remnants of digital manipulation (used in a more moderate manner than his previous work) often creates images as ghosts, or as an insistence of memory which ultimately fades away. This matter of phantasmagoria escalates profusely, and it’s as if the documents prior to 9/11 were populated by the constant threat of disaster, by a hidden message of apocalypse. The camera follows a small plane through New York’s sky, captures the Twin Towers, and the physical presence of people dissipate like debris among the binary.

The brutal “realness” of digital video is also something that works in favor for Silberstein. While watching a fireworks spectacle with his family, the image of the explosions becomes an abstraction that immediately takes our memory to war footage of different conflicts, and the voices of the people watching the show remember the conflict in Israel. The mechanics of war and the mechanics of entertainment become entangled in the digital image. Footage that would’ve fit perfectly in a Farocki documentary.

Never twice the same color is about the personal, the weight of personal identity in a realm of conflict, a space of memory as a needle through a veil of tension, the everlasting memory of the image opposed to the fragile memory of men. It is a document of remarkable quality, and a testimony of trauma as a weapon of resistance.

Director: Guli Silberstein