FAIR-PLAY logo Margaret Salmon (GB)
V I D E O   F E S T I V A L   2 0 0 3 » June 23 - 25

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> Jonah Freeman (USA) 16 - 18.6
> Matt Saunders (USA) 19 - 21.6
> Margaret Salmon (GB) 23-25.6
> Vesna Bukovec (SLO) 26 - 28.6
> Cecilia Lundqvist (SVE) 30.6 - 2.7
> Jón Saemundur
Auòrson (IS)
3 - 5.7
> Shahram Entekhabi (IRAN) 7 - 9.7
> Debora Hirsch (BRA) 10 - 12 .7
> Nuno Cera (PT) 14 - 16.7
> Johannes Maier (D) 17 - 19.7
> Nicolàs Serrano (ESP) 21 - 23.7
> Zhao Liang (CHINA) 24 - 26.7
> Wu Ershan (CHINA) 28 - 30.7
> Stella So (HK) 31.7 - 2.8
> GUP-py (JP) 4 - 6.8
> Sayaka Kasahara &
Kenji Kamoshida (JP)
7 - 9.8
> Cacciagrilli (ITA) 11 - 13.8
> Gina Tornatore (AUS) 14 - 16.8
> Chiara Pirito (ITA) 18 - 20.8

“Peggy”, 13’27”, 2003

The film Peggy has a structure loosely based on the common music video – a song propels the images forward, being both addressed and ignored by the film’s protagonist and subject, presumably Peggy herself. Split into 3 identical song rounds of the classic church song “Amazing Grace”, the piece digresses from this video formula and falls back on its soundtrack as a repetitive structure, accenting the recurrence of everyday events and the winding down of a lifetime. Relying on the poignancy of the lone woman’s quiet song, her singing establishes the voice as well as the rhythm of the film. The songs story becoming Peggy’s own testimony to aging, loneliness, and death.

The 3 sections are built on the course of a day and night; the film begins in the morning, with bright images in the kitchen and outside, and Peggy performing daily activities such as pouring tea or getting the post. The atmosphere flickers between a breezy warm spring/summer and a barren winter landscape. We see the passing of time and season merge within Peggy’s life, burning down the minutes into a fluid pattern of chores and contemplation and waiting. A working class character, she is only seen alone, or with an old wobbling dog, taking her time in her activities, walking around the garden, smelling the flowers in between chores.

She often addresses the viewer in song, moving in and out of synch with her own voice. At times glamorous in stark black and white, she then turns old and wrinkled, spotted and frail only to emerge again as heroine, proud and wise. The song “Amazing Grace” has a tradition in the United States as both a church hymn and folk song, and its story is said to have been of a prostitute who found salvation before her death by repenting her sins. There is a strong parallel between the wretched prostitute’s life course and any woman’s, especially one with Peggy’s background. Having always looked towards Christianity as a source of moral and emotional support throughout her life, she repeats the hymn over and over. A chant or mantra against darkness and disappearance.

When we reach the onset of the evening, colour emergences into the frame. First, Peggy is bathed in white light, her profile almost obscured, as she sings of salvation and sin. Then the film becomes darker and night descends into her home. She fills the time; washing her hair, pouring more tea, rocking in her chair. At the beginning of the last round of the song she is surrounded by candles, singing as a mystical storyteller in front of a campfire, the wise old woman at last. Conscious and dignified, the images become darker and less readable, as she descends into shadow and finally into sleep.

With Peggy and before this “P.S.”, I’ve been trying to develop a film language that draws upon both documentary and fictional devices. Always shooting on my own, in 16mm or super 8, I have been experimenting with the combination of sound and moving image, in this case using music as a platform for interaction between character and viewer. Having been inspired by Soviet and US propaganda films from the 40’s onwards as well as the Cinema Verite and New Wave movements in the west, I feel drawn to portraying the common struggle of working class subjects. Often filming the daily activities of people close to me, I attempt to reveal the dramas, tensions, and beauty within these characters.

Margaret Salmon


Born 1975 in New York, USA  
2003 M.A., Fine Art (photography), The Royal College of Art, London  
1998 B.F.A., Photography, The School of Visual Arts, NYC  
2003 Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna, Video Screening (group exhibition)  
  Wallspace, NYC, Photography for people, for us (group exhibition)  
  V.T.O., London, Urban and Suburban Stories (group exhibition)  
2002 Wallspace, NYC, Holiday Shopping (group exhibition)  
  Wallspace, NYC, “Montebello Road” (solo exhibition)  
  Bronwyn Keenan, NYC, BIG Magazine’s New Jersey Issue (group exhibition)  
  The Jam Factory, London, Sledge (group exhibition)  
2002 2nd Prize, Beck’s Futures Student Film and Video Award, The I.C.A., London,
2000 John Kobel Photographic Awards Exhibition, The National Portrait Gallery, London


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