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Work Samples

CUTS (16mm film, plexiglass, standoff bolts) 2021

CUTS was presented alongside my 16mm film, BALTIMORE (2021) in a gallery exhibition in the Fall of 2021. The object was part of a series of visual footnotes that I created to present alongside the 22 minute long film installation. The 16mm film strips are edits from a work print that did not make it into the final version of BALTIMORE. I find celluloid to be a beautiful object in itself and wanted to find a way to preserve and present the miniature images in a unique way.

BALTIMORE (4m excerpt)

BALTIMORE (2021) is a 22m nonfiction film that catalogs the landscapes and architecture of the filmmaker’s hometown of Baltimore City. Personal and observational, this 16mm film, shot from 2016 to 2018, explores exterior spaces, material and psychic fragments of historic buildings, many of which have been demolished or renovated since the completion of the film. Sound compositions by electronic musician, Bonnie Jones. All footage was shot with a 16mm Bolex Camera from June 2016 - July 2018.

One Document for Hope (excerpt)

One Document for Hope (2016) combines precious moments of gathering, celebration and protest in Baltimore from April 28 – May 3, 2015 alongside the sterile and procedural narrative of the Baltimore City Police Scanner recorded on Monday April 27. The film was shot with a 16mm Bolex and edited in camera during the week of the 2015 Baltimore Uprising. The footage was provided through The Ann Arbor Film Festival ORWO Award for Best Cinematography. Camera, Sound, Edit: Margaret Rorison Karl Ekdahl: BCP scanner recordings. Baltimore, Maryland 2015

PULL/DRIFT (excerpt)

PULL/DRIFT (2014) 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.

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About Margaret

Baltimore City

Margaret Rorison's picture
Margaret Rorison is filmmaker and curator from Baltimore, MD.  Her current work focuses on portraiture, memory, and landscape. Her work has been exhibited at  Anthology Film Archives, Miami PULSE Art Fair, Microscope Gallery, The Museum of The Moving Image, The National Gallery of Art, and The Walker Art Center.  Her short films have shown at The Ann Arbor Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Images Festival, SF CROSSROADS, Minneapolis St. Paul... more

BALTIMORE

BALTIMORE
16mm to digital projection | 22m | sound

BALTIMORE catalogs the landscapes and architecture of the filmmaker’s hometown of Baltimore City. Personal and observational, this 16mm film, shot from 2016 to 2018, explores exterior spaces, material and psychic fragments of historic buildings, many of which have been demolished or renovated since the completion of the film. 

Sound, Edit, Camera: Margaret Rorison 

Composer: Bonnie Jones Re-Recording Mix: Tom Boram

All footage was shot with a 16mm Bolex Camera from June 2016 - July 2018.  
Creation of this work was made possible in part by a Ruby artist project grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

Aside from film festival premieres and screenings, my film, BALTIMORE was exhibited in a two person show at Current Space Gallery from September 11 - October 2, 2021, curated by the gallery’s co-founders.  The film was exhibited with additional "visual footnotes": various maps of Baltimore City to provide a political and geographical context of the city, select still frames of filmed locations with accompanying unique histories of these locations, and two large “film objects” created from the edited 16mm workprint of the film. Documentation of this exhibit is included in this project. 

Select Screenings
Musuem of the Moving Image
The Maryland Film Festival 
El Festival Internacional de Cine UNAM 

  • Current Space Gallery Exhibition (street view)

    Hypogean (Two person exhibition with Monique Crabb & Margaret Rorison) September 11 – October 2, 2021 Working in a variety of mediums, both artists are concerned with personal histories, the mapping of experience onto surfaces, and the stains of memories through dyes and light. This exhibition focuses on stories cultivated to make sense of complex societal structures and the illusions, sadness, and beauty in the hidden subterranean landscape.
  • Gallery View

    Visitors take a closer look at my 16mm film objects.
  • Installation view of gallery projection of BALTIMORE

    Installation view of gallery projection of BALTIMORE (2021) Current Space Gallery Baltimore, MD
  • Visual Footnotes to the film, BALTIMORE

    Various maps of Baltimore City and stills from the 16mm film accompany the film in the installation. Film stills are presented with accompanying addresses and unique histories of the highlighted locations to highlight the complex and rich history of Baltimore City. Various Maps of Baltimore City include: “Plan of the town of Baltimore and its environs,” 1792 map by Surveyor: A.P. Folie; Engraver: James Poupard. Library; Special Collections; BCLM; Maps & Atlases.
  • Footnotes

    "Scales of Light" (L) & "CUTS" (R) 16mm film, plexiglass, standoff bolts
  • Scales of Light (2021)

    "Scales of Light" 2021 20" x 26" 16mm film, plexiglass, standoff bolts
  • CUTS (2021)

    16mm film strips have been cut from a working edit of BALTIMORE and repurposed into an object using two planes of plexiglass and mounting hardware. The work is meant to be hung on a wall and experienced as a 3 dimensional object.
  • Current Space Gallery (Street View)

    Hypogean September 11 – October 2, 2021 Featuring Margaret Rorison Monique Crabb Working in a variety of mediums, both artists are concerned with personal histories, the mapping of experience onto surfaces, and the stains of memories through dyes and light. This exhibition focuses on stories cultivated to make sense of complex societal structures and the illusions, sadness, and beauty in the hidden subterranean landscape.
  • BALTIMORE (4m excerpt)

    BALTIMORE (2021) is a 22m nonfiction film that catalogs the landscapes and architecture of the filmmaker’s hometown of Baltimore City. Personal and observational, this 16mm film, shot from 2016 to 2018, explores exterior spaces, material and psychic fragments of historic buildings, many of which have been demolished or renovated since the completion of the film. Sound compositions by electronic musician, Bonnie Jones. All footage was shot with a 16mm Bolex Camera from June 2016 - July 2018.

One Document for Hope

One Document for Hope
2016 | 16mm to digital | B/W | 8m | sound 

One Document for Hope is a short film shot during the 2015 Baltimore Uprising. It incorporates the sterile and procedural narrative of the Baltimore City Police Scanner recorded on Monday April 27 against precious moments of gathering, celebration and protest in Baltimore from April 28 – May 3, 2015. The film was shot with a 16mm Bolex and edited in camera during the week of the 2015 Baltimore Uprising. The footage was provided through The Ann Arbor Film Festival ORWO Award for Best Cinematography. 

Documentation: Margaret Rorison 
Thanks to Karl Ekdahl for providing the BCP scanner recordings. 
Baltimore, Maryland 2015

Select Screenings
Affinities, or The Weight of Cinema curated by Kevin Jerome Everson & Greg de Cuir Jr., The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival 

  • One Document for Hope (still frame)

    Baltimore citizens participate in a large celebration in the streets of North Ave after the announcement made by Baltimore City State's Attorney, Marilyn Mosby on May 1, 2015 that her office had filed charges against six police officers after the medical examiner's report ruled Freddie Gray's death a homicide.
  • One Document for Hope (still frame)

    Protestors fill the streets to protest the death of Freddie Grey while armored Baltimore City Cops stand guard.
  • One Document for Hope (still frame)

    The National Guard officially leaves Baltimore City after a weeklong curfew and occupation during the 2015 Baltimore Uprising in response to the murder of Freddie Gray.
  • One Document for Hope

    2016 | 16mm to digital | B/W | sound | 8m The sterile and procedural narrative of the Baltimore City Police Scanner recorded on Monday April 27 against precious moments of gathering, celebration and protest in Baltimore from April 28 – May 3, 2015. Documentation: Margaret Rorison Thanks to Karl Ekdahl for providing the BCP scanner recordings. Baltimore, Maryland 2015

16mm Performances + Expanded Cinema

This body of work reflects my practice in expanded cinema (cinema as a performance) while lies heavily on collaboration with improvisors and experimental sound artists.  All three works were made on 16mm film, intended to be projected with an analog projector and experienced with a live sound component. 

departure (2020) is a short piece that I made with my own discovered process of creating 16mm cyanotype loops. I created a live soundtrack while projected multiple loops of 16mm film. The soundtrack included a synthesizer, electromagnetic pickups, and recordings of my grandmother speaking, reciting lucid memories at a later stage in her live. This short work premiered at The Red Room in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Of Our Mothers (2018) is a collaborative one-hour durational performance peice that musician, Audrey Chen and I premiered in Berlin, Germany during an artist residency in 2017.  The work incorporates dual 16mm projection of  hand-processed 16mm film loops that depicted images of my grandmother, mother, and sister, while incorporating sounds from contact microphones and electronics from the projection booth. As I project, Chen utilizes her voice, cello and electronics in a completely improvised response. 
 
PULL/DRIFT (2014) is a short 16mm dance film that was edited in camera. The film documents a site-specific dance performance that took place on September 8th 2013 at Patapsco Valley State Park, Daniels Area. The 16mm film is accompanied by a live score created by musician, Josh Millrod and was selected to premiere at Mono No Aware an annual festival of expanded cinema that takes place annually in Brooklyn, NY.

  • 16mm cyanotype frame

    This still frame was scanned from a 16mm film that I had created by hand-coating clear leader with cyanotype emulsion, then creating a contact print using the original black and white negative and the coated film strips, to create a final positive cyanotype image. I am very interested in incorporating alternative photographic processes and 16mm filmmaking to experiment and create unique new forms of the moving image.
  • departure (excerpt)

    departure 2020 | 16mm | handmade cyanotypes | sound | performance departure incorporates the alternative 19th C. cyanotype process with my passion for 16mm film and darkroom experimentation.
  • Of Our Mothers (still frame)

    This image was created with an optical printer. I rephotographed some black and white 16mm negatives with an optical printer during a residency at Crater Lab in Barcelona, Spain. I worked to slow down my footage to create 16mm film loops for a durational performance that took place at ausland in Berlin, Germany. All footage is hand processed.
  • Of Our Mothers (still frame)

    This image was created with an optical printer. I rephotographed some black and white 16mm negatives with an optical printer during a residency at Crater Lab in Barcelona, Spain. I worked to slow down my footage to create 16mm film loops for a durational performance that took place at ausland in Berlin, Germany. All footage is hand processed.
  • Of Our Mothers (still frame)

    This image was created with an optical printer. I rephotographed some black and white 16mm negatives with an optical printer during a residency at Crater Lab in Barcelona, Spain. I worked to slow down my footage to create 16mm film loops for a durational performance that took place at ausland in Berlin, Germany. All footage is hand processed.
  • Of Our Mothers (performance at ausland in Berlin, Germany)

    A collaborative work between Audrey Chen (cello, voice, electronics) that was developed and performed during an 2017 artist residency at ausland, in Berlin, Germany. In this project, I projected hand-processed 16mm film loops that depicted images of my grandmother, mother, and sister, while incorporating sounds from contact microphones and electronics from the projection booth. As I projected, Chen utilized her voice, cello and electronics in a completely improvised response. TRT: 60 minutes
  • Of Our Mothers (excerpt)

    Of Our Mothers is a collaborative work between Audrey Chen (cello, voice, electronics) and Margaret Rorison (16mm film projection, contact microphones) that was developed and performed during an 2017 artist residency at ausland, in Berlin, Germany. The collaboration between Audrey Chen and Margaret Rorison works inside the intimate worlds
of their maternal lines, as experienced through the myriad sounds of the human voice and 16mm
film projection.
  • PULL/DRIFT (still frame)

    Dancers progress into the woods as part of their site-specific performance, PULL/DRIFT which I was hired to document.
  • Projecting PULL/DRIFT at Mono No Aware VII in Brooklyn, NY

    Projecting PULL/DRIFT Mono No Aware VII Light Space Studios Brooklyn, NY 2013
  • MONO NO AWARE VII at Lightspace Studios in Brooklyn, NY

    Overhead view of the crowd during the Saturday night performance and set up of Mono No Aware VII, Festival of Cinema Arts where I premiered my performance piece, PULL/DRIFT with a live music component performed by sound artist, Josh Millrod.

DER SPAZIERGANG

DER SPAZIERGANG
2013 | 16mm | 3m | sound

The film is shot on one 100' roll of 16mm color film, all of which was composed and shot in-camera. The film is made of up single frames taken during extensive walks throughout the layered historical landscape of Berlin, Germany in April 2013. 

The title, DER SPAZIERGANG (The Walk)  comes from a story by German-Swiss writer, Robert Walser.

Select Screenings 
27th The Images Festival, Toronto, ON
52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, MI
NEW YEAR, NEW WORKS, The Filmmakers Co-Op, NYC 

understory

understory
 2019 | 16mm film to digital | 10m | sound 

This short film is a personal navigation through four seasons of loss.  A series of memory frames shot on expired and donated 16mm film. An ode to navigation, an adaptation to silences and deafening cries.  

All footage was shot during the years of 2012-2016 in Los Angeles, Gettysburg, and Baltimore. 

Memory of August

Memory of August 
2016 | 16mm | 6m | 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. 

Special Jury Award for Best Experimental Short, New Orleans Film Festival, 2017 
Edinburgh International Film Festival, International Premiere, 2017 

  • Memory of August (still frame)

    My grandmother, Margaret looks out the window of her room in a recovery center.
  • Memory of August (still frame)

    My grandmother, Margaret lost in thought.
  • Memory of August (still frame)

    Margaret looks at an old family album my mother brought to help her with memory loss and recovery after a fall.
  • Memory of August (still frame)

    Margaret looks outside her window as I film her recovery process.
  • Memory of August

    Memory of August is a short 16mm film shot on two rolls of 100' film and edited in camera. The film documents a series of intimate moments spent with my grandmother, Margaret during the first of many hospital trips due to her Alzheimer's diagnosis.

PULL/DRIFT

PULL/DRIFT
2013 | 16mm to video | 10m | sound

PULL/DRIFT is a collaborative project that evolved into many parts. In 2013,  Clarissa Stowell Gregory and Joshua Wade Smith collaborated on dance & sculpture for a performance involving: water, woods and raft. Clarissa & Joshua created the site-specific performance PULL / DRIFT on September 8th at Patapsco Valley State Park, Daniels Area.

For six months, Baltimore photographers/filmmakers Liz Donadio, Carr Kizzier, and myself documented the evolution and execution of this site-specific performance, which finalized in a gallery exhibition, Pull / Drift: In the Slipstream at Gallery CA from December 6 2013 - January 10, 2014.

The documentation that I captured from the dance performance became a 16mm film with a live sound accompaniment by sound artist, Josh Millrod. This piece premiered at Mono No Aware Festival of Expanded Cinema in December of 2013. 

Throughout my documentation process of Pull/Drift, I focused on the flow of the human form and its relationship to its surrounding environments. I was interested in discovering a dialogue between limbs and hips, the curves of the land, the mechanics of flesh, the rhythmic channeling through water, grass and earth. I was captivated by how the development of motion sculptured a new sense of time and established a magical sense of ritualistic bliss.

  • PULL/DRIFT (excerpt)

    PULL/DRIFT (2014) 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.
  • PULL/DRIFT (still frame)

    The Effervescent Dance Collective performs "PULL/DRIFT" in the wooded area of Patapsco State Park in Baltimore County.
  • PULL/DRIFT (still frame)

    The Effervescent Dance Collective performs "PULL/DRIFT" in the wooded area of Patapsco State Park in Baltimore County.
  • PULL/DRIFT (still frame)

    The Effervescent Dance Collective performs "PULL/DRIFT" in the wooded area of Patapsco State Park in Baltimore County.
  • PULL/DRIFT (still frame)

    The Effervescent Dance Collective performs "PULL/DRIFT" in the wooded area of Patapsco State Park in Baltimore County.
  • PULL/DRIFT (still frame)

    The Effervescent Dance Collective performs "PULL/DRIFT" in the wooded area of Patapsco State Park in Baltimore County.
  • Spawn

    Archival pigment print from a 120 black and white negative film. I shot this image with a medium format camera that had a broken frame counter. I embraced the dysfunction and explored what the images would look like if I experimented with multiple exposures and random advancement of the film. This image is the result of this exploration.
  • Pull/Drift, 35mm

    Documentation of PULL/DRIFT live performance at MICA's Cohen Plaza July 2013
  • Exhibition view of PULL/DRIFT at Gallery CA (2013)

    Entrance of the exhibition of PULL/DRIFT (2013) With support from Effervescent & friends, Clarissa Stowell Gregory and Joshua Wade Smith collaborated on dance & sculpture for a performance involving: water, woods and raft. Clarissa & Joshua created the site-specific performance PULL / DRIFT on September 8th 2013 at Patapsco Valley State Park, Daniels Area.
  • Gallery CA installation view

    Pull / Drift: In the Slipstream Gallery CA December 6th 2013 - January 10th, 2014 Pull / Drift: In the Slipstream is a collection of photographs, video, and film from the sculpture-dance performance Pull / Drift - a collaboration between choreographer Clarissa Gregory and sculptor Joshua Wade Smith. For six months, Baltimore artists Liz Donadio, Carr Kizzier, and Margaret Rorison documented the evolution and execution of this site-specific performance, that took place September 8th, 2013 at Patapsco Valley State Park's Daniels Area.

Sympathetic Bodies

Sympathetic Bodies
2018 | 16mm to video | 5m | sound

This film was made for the track, "Sympathetic Bodies" by Byron Westbrook from his 2017 Body Consonance LP on Hands in the Dark Records. All footage was hand-processed and shot on 16mm B&W reversal film, incorporating rephotography with the JK Optical Printer. This work was made with the support from Crater Lab in Barcelona. 

"The body is an ever-compassing approach to empathy through the DIY philosophy, the hand-processing of material which allows the touch to be truly felt. The film’s rhythm corresponds to Byron Westbrook’s song of the same title -which the film was made for- but perfectly works as its own creation. Rorison’s tactile universe, in process and in the image itself, is always tangible, even in its out-of-context digital screening. Nature mirrors time, time is mirrored in our body, as the prescience of the imminent is expected with subtle calm."

- José Sarmiento Hinojosa, "CROSSROADS 202O.PROGRAM 4: ALL THOSE THINGS YOU USED TO FEEL", desistfilm , September 4, 2020

  • Sympathetic Bodies (still frame)

    My mother grasps my grandmother's hands.
  • Sympathetic Bodies (still frame)

    This film was made for the track, "Sympathetic Bodies" by Byron Westbrook from his 2017 Body Consonance LP on Hands in the Dark Records. All footage was hand-processed and shot on 16mm B&W reversal film, incorporating rephotography with the JK Optical Printer. This work was made with the support from Crater Lab in Barcelona.
  • Sympathetic Bodies (still frame)

    An abstraction of my sister's hands.
  • Sympathetic Bodies (still frame)

    My sister holds a mirror up to the woods where I grew up.
  • Sympathetic Bodies (still frame)

    A glass object reflects the wooded landscape.
  • Sympathetic Bodies (still frame)

    Winter reflections in a stream.
  • Sympathetic Bodies

    This film was made for the track, "Sympathetic Bodies" by sound artist, Byron Westbrook from his 2017 Body Consonance LP on Hands in the Dark Records. All footage was hand-processed and shot on 16mm B&W reversal film, incorporating rephotography techniques with the JK Optical Printer. This work was made with the support from Crater Lab in Barcelona.

SCANSION

SCANSION
2012 | 16mm installation | color | sound 

SCANSION is a short 16mm film composed of extensive walks through various Baltimore landscapes. The film has been hand edited like a poem, where cuts function like line breaks, working to establish inherent rhythm and meter. 

The film was created for a gallery and is intended to run on a continuous loop with an accompanying surround sound speaker installation. The soundtrack has been compiled of field recordings taken on my walks through Baltimore City. Additional sound by musicians, C. Spencer Yeh and Lea Bertucci, voice by Kelly Laughlin.

“…in complete consciousness I understood what for me walking travel and cinema had in common. Sometimes I preferred walking, that is to say, talking with my legs over speaking, which is to say, walking with my mouth- but basically, it’s the same thing”
-Serge Daney

TRT of film: 8min
Soundtrack: 12min
Both run on a continuous loop.

SIGHT UNSEEN Screening Series

Another significant part of my filmmaking practice involves the curation and operation of Sight Unseen, a Baltimore based experiemental film series which I have been running for almost 10 years now. The film series focuses on bringing contemporary image-based work to Baltimore audiences. In 2012, I co-founded the series and have been curating and operating the series on my own since 2014. Since June of 2017, Sight Unseen has found a permanent location at The SNF Parkway Theatre, home of the Maryland Film Festival.

The series has brought notable filmmakers, curators, and artists to Baltimore to present their work including: Peter Burr, Nazli Dincel, Sky Hopkina, Mark Toscano (film preservationist for the Academy Film Archive), Ephraim Asili, Greg De Cuir Jr., Madsen Minax, Laura Parnes & David Dinnell to name a few. 

Since 2012, Sight Unseen has formed partnerships with various Baltimore-based organizations including, Area 405, Current Space, Enoch Pratt Library, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Metro Gallery, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Creative Alliance, & The Red Room Collective. In additional to film screenings, Sight Unseen has hosted a series of affordable workshops on analog practices including handmade emulsion, film as performance, and experimental hand processing techniques. 

The 2021/22 Season of Sight Unseen is made possible by a generous contribution from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. 
 
 

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