Circle is a survey of works by the American-born, Glasgow-based artist Margaret Salmon, who works primarily on 16mm and 35mm film. Using an intuitive and often improvised approach to the camera, Salmon trains her eye on an intimate cast of family, friends and local subjects. Her films are a chronicle of the everyday, of the emotive connections between people, and of their relationship to the worlds they inhabit.
The exhibition aspires beyond merely re-presenting existing works made over the past 20 years. It draws a line around Salmon’s practice as a whole, circumscribing what exists in between the works or in their shadows: the sketches, the research, the remnants. A new six-channel sound piece, Part-time (2018), brings together fragments from the artist’s aural archive, recordings accumulated over the years that never found a place within any singular work. Camera tests, studies and outtakes punctuate the weekly film programmes, offering glimpses into moments of enquiry, reflection and reconciliation. At the opposite end of the gallery, the video installation Company (2018) is a synthesis of four earlier works into a new choreography that plays out across nine screens.
The central screening area houses an installation of Salmon’s films alongside peripheral material, organised into a series of four programmes entitled Here, there, everywhere… outside over there. ‘Here’ locates the first chapter in the artist’s native New York, whose Arcadian suburban towns form the backdrop for a series of studies on the American vernacular. Drawing influence from traditions of American realist literature and new documentary photography, these filmic portraits also unravel nuances of character in the daily lives of middle-class America. Programme II brings us to the South East of England, where Salmon resided for several years before making Glasgow her home. The films made there are marked by a shift towards a more universal gaze as she investigates the social, cultural, psychological and gendered aspects of domestic space in the context of the everyday. Programme III, entitled ‘Everywhere’, is based on ideas around people and place, integrating ethnographic and observational approaches to filming both human and mammalian subjects. The final programme turns to the real and fantastical spaces of the natural world, featuring Eglantine (2016), Salmon’s debut feature narrative for adults and children alike.
Margaret Salmon (b. 1975, New York) lives and works in Glasgow. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at institutions including Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (2015); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, USA (2011); Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2007); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007) and Collective Gallery, Edinburgh (2006). Her work has been featured in film festivals and major international survey exhibitions, including the Berlin Biennale (2010) and Venice Biennale (2007). Salmon was the recipient of the inaugural MaxMara Art Prize for Women in 2006.
Presented in partnership with Glasgow Film Festival, Circle is co-produced by Tramway and LUX Scotland, and is curated by Nicole Yip (Director, LUX Scotland).
…it evidences Salmon’s care for the transmission of the subjects – her ‘behind-the-scenes’ or ‘lives overlooked’ subjects. Her mechanical cameras become a literal ‘medium’, a camera clairvoyance, as she draws, through the screen, a psychic or mind-reading bond between herself and these portraits and these places….
…As a filmmaker, Salmon is always attentive to light and atmosphere. Her analogue methods at once bring us closer to her subjects and, at the same time, make sure we never forget the camera’s presence. She draws deeply on realist film traditions, and on the history of art (Peggy, standing by a lighted window, is surely straight out of Vermeer), to create poetic celebrations of the commonplace…