Recent 16mm Films by Margaret Rorison
Filmmaker in Attendance!


The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
Friday, November 18th, 7 pm, $7-10

The Nightingale welcomes Margaret Rorison to present a program of short films shot on 16mm from 2012-2016. Many of these works have developed from travel and explorations through rural and urban landscapes and function as odes to memories of experience. Some films are explorations of the relationship between time and the frame, between pacing and cut and of memory … Sound is an important component to these works as well. Rorison has composed many of the soundtracks with the use of field recordings, contact mics and lucid narrations made by her grandfather. One of her most recent films, Memory of August is an ode and portrait study of her 95 year old grandmother, Margaret Bennett, the widow of Harry Bennett who has been another strong influence in Rorison’s earlier work. Prior to filmmaking, Rorison worked primarily with painting and poetry and is interested in exploring these methods of language and thought through the medium of 16mm film.

“Rorison’s works frequently wander through empty or seemingly empty spaces. Her soundtracks—often consisting largely of electronic music on the drone/noise spectrum—often create a sense of warm alienation, coloring the films’ empty landscapes. Rorison’s films abound with “negative space” compositions—shots which frame a “nothing” (for example an empty sky, a wall, water) against borders of dark (shadows, bridges, walls)… this seems to suggest something of a turning away from the world of the social and a turn towards a state of introspection. These films relish solitude and alone-ness, and even while this solitude is sometimes tinged with dread or alienation, even as the filmmaker’s visions tend toward the apocalyptic, this solitude is asserted often as a source of strength.” — Steve Polta, Artistic Director, San Francisco Cinematheque

Program Details:

Gowanus Haze
2012 | 16mm to video | 5 min | sound

The filmmaker returns to her old neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. The footage captures a landscape known as The Gowanus Canal, an area of Brooklyn, which was once inhabited by a productive port and industrial compound. The area is now overly polluted and is officially registered as a superfund site by the US environmental protection agency. The film’s soundtrack incorporates personal narrations as well as recordings of the filmmaker’s grandfather who recalls his own memories of New York City. Additional sounds include recordings of a lumberyard and wind in Northern Vermont, keyboard, recordings of the projector projecting the film itself.

2013 | 16mm to video | 9 min | sound

This film documents a unique choreographed performance that took place one late Summer afternoon in Patapsco State Park in Baltimore, Maryland. Choreographed by Clarissa Stowell Gregory and performed by The Effervescent Collective. Soundtrack composed by Josh Millrod.

The Waiting Sands
2013 | 16mm to video | 5 min | sound

My grandfather, Harry Bennett was a huge influence on me as a young artist and thinker. He was a painter and had made a living as an illustrator for gothic and romance novels in the 1960s. In the last month of his life, he was omitted to the hospital with terminal conditions. Unable to film him, I began to capture the harvest moon outside his bedroom window as a way to cope with the emotions I was experiencing. A few hours after the footage had been shot, my grandfather passed away. This footage serves as a document of his last breaths. Soundtrack composed by Josh Millrod.

Dark Logic
2015 | 16mm to video | 5 min | sound

An ode to the restricted space and surveillance in the skies. Sound derived from a live performance by Mario de Vega.

Shot in Los Angeles, Summer 2015

Funes el memorioso
2015 | 8mm to 16mm to video | 2 min | sound

The final footage of a painter, slowed down to lengthen the memory. Sound by Audrey Chen (voice and cello) & Flandrew Fleisenberg (percussion)

The Road to Kalmar
2015 | 16mm to video | 7 min | sound

This piece is an ode to Anna Karlson, who was born in Kalmar, Sweden and immigrated to North America in 1909 to start a new life. She was born to a family of poor farmers, many of whom died early on. Anna moved to the United States by herself when she was 19 years old. The footage was shot in Kalmar, Sweden by her great granddaughter, Margaret Rorison 94 years after Anna left her homeland. The footnotes of text are taken from recorded childhood memories of her grandchildren, Debbie and Pamela. Soundtrack by Josh Millrod.

The Birds of Chernobyl
2012 | 16mm | 7 min | sound

This piece was originally made as a performance with a live collage soundtrack. This is an ode to my grandfather, Harry Bennett and our shared interest in solitude and landscape.

2014 | 16mm | 3 min | sound

This short film is a study of the wind turbines along the shores of Amager, Copenhagen. Triple exposed on one roll of color film, then finding four generations of grain. The soundtrack is a recorded live improvisation by artist Mario de Vega using unstable media and acoustic resonators.

Memory of August
2016 | 16mm | 5 min | sound

A series of moments captured in room 139. Intimate spaces of time spent with my grandmother, Margaret during a month long recovery in a rehabilitation center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Lichtenberg Skies
2016 | 16mm | 3 min | silent

Studies of the Klingenberg Power Plant during a month long residency in Berlin. November 2015

2013 | 16mm | 3 min | sound

This film documents long walks throughout Berlin, Germany during the cold days of April, 2013. The film is edited in camera and composed of single frame snapshots along with longer moments of glance, captured on one 100’ roll of film. The title comes from a story by Robert Walser.

One Document for Hope
2015 | 16mm | 8 min | sound

The sterile and procedural narrative of the Baltimore City Police Scanner on Monday April 27 against precious moments of gathering, celebration and protest in Baltimore from April 28 – May 3, 2015.

Smoke, shadows, gliding further when alone
2016 | 16mm | work in progress | sound
An excerpt of a longer piece in progress.
Restoration of a memory: a short 16mm film that focuses on the landscape and architecture of Baltimore City.
MARGARET RORISON is an artist and curator originally from Baltimore, Maryland. She has been making short 16mm films since 2012. She is interested in the visceral nature of memory and the act of memorializing our relationships to space and experience. Sound and walking are important components to the rhythm of these film structures. Often her work comes from solitary walks through rural and urban landscapes, using in camera editing techniques and filed recordings to create form and find structure. Rorison, has been curating and running the experimental film series, Sight Unseen since 2012 and has been a member of the High Zero Foundation and Maryland Film Festival Screening committee both since 2011. Her work has been shown at Anthology Film Archives, Ann Arbor Film Festival, CROSSROADS, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Images Festival, Mono No Aware VI & VII, Sonic Circuits Festival, Microscope Gallery, The Moscow Museum of Modern Art and The High Zero Festival.

Programmed by Lorenzo Gattorna

Filed under: 16mm, 8mm, archival, artist in attendance, autobiography, documentary, essay, experimental, film, found footage, geography, hand-processing, landscape, literature, music, performance, place, poetry, social justice, sound, surveillance, travel, Uncategorized, video