Void Gallery is delighted to present Company – the first exhibition in Northern Ireland by US American artist Margaret Salmon. It is curated by Susanne Stitch.

Born in 1975 in Suffurn, New York, Margaret Salmon lives and works between Kent, London, and New York. The exhibition shows a selection of early works, including the award-winning Ninna Nanna, and the recent work Times Square (2010). Salmon studied photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Royal College of Art, London. Before employing the moving image (primarily 16mm film) as her main medium as an artist she worked as a photojournalist and editorial photographer.

The early works P.S. (2002), Peggy (2003), Ramapo Central (2003) and Ninna Nanna (2006) portray different individuals in their everyday worlds through complex orchestrations of sound and image (combining black and white with colour). They draw on the traditions of various cinematic movements (e.g. Cinema Vérité, the European Avantgarde and Italian Neo-Realism) and straight photography (e.g. the works of Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, and August Sander) but also minimalist storytelling as in the short stories of Raymond Carver. Salmon fuses these influences with an interest in poetry and ethnography, creating portraits that integrate individual detail, universal human themes and a powerful knowledge of the medium’s aesthetics.

Ninna Nanna, a triptych of three 16mm films, depicts the experience of three Italian mothers in different stages of early motherhood, filmed in their domestic surroundings and set to a soundtrack of a traditional Italian lullaby, the eponymous Ninna Nanna. Each of the films celebrate the tenacity and grace of the mothers while acknowledging the contradictions between the iconography of motherhood and the reality of bringing up a child.

Her recent work, Times Square (2010), presents an observational account of tourists gleaning mementos from the pulsing square; it was made in the tradition of New York street photography. People who come to this mythical place to witness the spectacle of bright lights and signs are filmed while they are in the ‘electronic bubble’. The film deals with the quality of light and glowing colours particular to Times Square while following the interactions and responses of members of the crowd to its spectacle of light and image. The lack of a soundtrack emphasises Salmon’s intention to reflect on contemporary cultures of image-making and public posturing.

Salmon’s recent solo exhibitions include Afternoons have to do with the World, Office Baroque, Antwerp (2011); Art Statements, Art Basel (2008); Whitechapel, London (2007); and Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2007). She also participated in many international group exhibitions, including the 6th Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst (2010) and the Venice Biennale (2007). In 2006, she won the prestigious MaxMara Women’s Art Prize, in association with the Whitechapel Gallery.

“Margaret Salmon creates stylised portraits that weave together poetry and documentary. Focusing on individual characters in their everyday habitats, her slow-moving films capture the minutiae of daily life, infusing them with gentle grandeur. Salmon portrays the common struggle of common people, constructing documents that represent characters in a social context. Her position is never aggressive nor intrusive but balances intimacy with respectful distance, creating laconic yet moving works that are at once sober and lyrical, filled with a fragile sense of humanity.” Nicolaus Schafhausen, Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam.