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Xcèntric 2023-2024

Tait Constellation: Bricolages of Past, Present and Imagination


This programme explores the influence and revisiting of Margaret Tait’s cinema by means of 16-mm filming, carried out by a group of contemporary filmmakers related with her work, such as Ute Aurand, Peter Todd and Luke Fowler. Alex Pirie defined Tait’s work as bricolage of past, present and imagination, which is where this constellation is formed.

Tait, who self-financed almost all of her work, used to film alone and up close, recording separately the images and sounds of places she knew from her childhood and where she lived, particularly those of Orkney in Scotland: this intimate projection traces a familiar, warm and emotional autobiographical dimension in the spaces, making simple, everyday things—filmed as such—acquire mystery, also in their portraitist encounter with loved ones or close people (Three Portrait Sketches).

These films are formed on those landscapes and portraits. In his film Being in a Place: A Portrait of Margaret Tait (2022), Luke Fowler takes as a starting point an unfinished project by Tait, Heartlandscape, conceived as a landscape portrait of Orkney, to investigate and trace its documentary traces and potential filming today. Files and sound documents with the filmmaker’s voice-over, photographs, diaries and texts piece together a portrait and a biographical song in images, echoes and filmic textures.

Margaret Tait: “The contradictory or paradoxical thing is that in documentary the real things depicted are liable to lose their reality by being photographed and presented in that ‘documentary’ way, and there’s no poetry in that. In poetry, something else happens. Hard to say what it is. Presence, let’s say, soul or spirit, an empathy with whatever it is that’s dwelt upon, feeling for it—to the point of identification.”

Three Portrait Sketches, Margaret Tait, 1951, 16 mm, silent, 10’; Glimpses from a Visit to Orkney in Summer, Ute Aurand, 2020, 16 mm, silent, 4’30’’; a spoon, Peter Todd, 2019, 16 mm, silent, 2’30’’; Being in a Place: A Portrait of Margaret Tait, Luke Fowler, 2022, 16 mm, 61’ (Spanish subtitles).

Projection in DCP.

Copies from LUX.

Directors: Margaret Tait, Ute Aurand, Peter Todd, Luke Fowler

This activity is part of Xcèntric 2023-2024

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