Stalking the Image: Margaret Tait and her legacy
- Susan Mansfield
- 25 January 2019
Exhibition offers rare opportunity to experience the innovative work of the artist and filmmaker
Part of a series of events organised across Scotland to mark the centenary of Margaret Tait's birth, this is a rare chance to see a selection of work by the pioneering Orkney-born film-maker, alongside material from her archive.
In the main ground floor gallery at GoMA, a showreel of nine of Tait's films, varying in length from two to 32 minutes, is shown next to a programme of films by contemporary artists who have received the Margaret Tait Award launched in her memory in 2010, including Rachel Maclean and Charlotte Prodger.
While there are some practical challenges – noise bleed between the two screens, and the difficulty of working out where one is in the rolling programmes – Tait's work is absorbing. Working experimentally, and always outside of the mainstream, she turned down opportunities to work with major film-makers in order to pursue her own singular vision ('stalking the image' is a phrase she used to describe her practice, borrowed from Lorca).
While her work is diverse, and includes experiments such as colourful hand-painted animation, it is the longer films such as Where I Am Is Here (1963) and Place of Work (1976) which linger most powerfully. Episodic, fragmented in its gaze, the camera follows her eye, picking out details, gradually building up a nuanced picture. The lingering focus on everyday things and refusal of conventional narrative reminds us why her work is so popular with many artists today
GoMA, until Sun 5 May