Critic and theoretician
The art historian George Baker, writing in ArtForum last year, noted, ‘It is a recurring experience. I am doing a studio visit, and there on the artist’s shelf is a book by Kaja Silverman.’ Baker goes on to describe Silverman’s lectures as being ‘greeted with the kind of wild enthusiasm usually reserved for performances and concerts’. To call Silverman a feminist film theorist and art historian rather misses the point of her writing. In Flesh of My Flesh, her 2009 book, Silverman charts the modern obsession with uniqueness – the identity of difference and departmentalisation – bringing the text to a head through the work of Terrence Malick, James Coleman and Gerhard Richter.
After the publication of that book Silverman left her teaching post at the University of California, Berkeley for the University of Pennsylvania; and this year the professor received the Distinguished Achievement Award – $1.5 million over six years – from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to add to her 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship. That money should see her through the completion of The Miracle of Analogy, a book on photography in which Silverman continues an ongoing reappraisal of the Renaissance idea of analogy as a philosophical methodology.