Ghost Dancing

An award-winning artist who lives and works in Glasgow, Margaret Salmon’s work is said to often “examine the gendered, emotive dynamics of social interactions and representational forms.” So it goes for her latest project Home, a four-and-a-half minute short film that comes as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts series. Shot in Glasgow in June earlier this year, using 16mm colour stock, Salmon’s film begins as an unnamed woman (Monika Smekot) lies in bed with her children. As they sleep, she’s awake, a tear almost imperceptibly in the corner of her eye.

The film cuts to a shot, briefly, of her washing up then sitting at her table in her living room. The clock says 3.25am. Her surroundings are more worn than luxurious: clothes are scattered around, drying, and a Winnie the Pooh bear sits on the sofa. Perhaps fatigued, the woman rests her head on her arm – and then, ever so slowly, a hand creeps into frame. It should be shocking, but it’s done so gently, as the low, comforting hum of Victoria Morton’s score begins to play.

As the hand moves around her neck, the woman is pulled upwards, as Salmon then cuts to a wide shot of the living room. The mundane, the ordinary, meets the fantastical, as the woman and a female ghost (Iraya Noble) are pictured clasped in an embrace. Using analogue double exposure to give both figures a transparent quality, the two caress, dance and finally move to the floor, where the woman comes to lie down, before returning to her sleeping children in the bedroom.

Noble and Smekot are credited with the choreography, such as it is, in what is a beautifully touching, tender and simplistic moment – a restorative fantasy where the woman bonds with the spiritual. It’s a ghost story in the truest sense of the word, a piece that examines the possibility of the ethereal and just how close it remains to our temporal existence. Inside its brief running time, and with no dialogue, Salmon says so much about our relationship with the world around us.

To watch Home, visit here.

James Mottram