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Margaret Tait by Ali Smith
Ali Smith
Margaret Tait
Again a proof of Tait's genius for portraiture, and a film about the notion of portraiture itself and the investure of love in the seen portrait.

What is film for? Why is it different from still photography, where it comes to seeing its subject? What can it tell us about someone?

How somebody moves. How somebody is still.

Her mother sits in a landscape, keeping time to a tune with her hand. Detail is how to know someone. How she smokes. How she smiles wryly, or looks away.

A close-up of her mother's hands and the delicacy of them taking the wrapper off a very sticky sweet tells us everything we can know about this woman, and the care and the necessary distance, both, with which we observe those we love.

A long-shot of her mother, from behind, almost running almost dancing along a rural road beneath a greyed-out rainbow is, in that miraculous Tait way, so placed, so unquaint and so natural, as to leave its viewer renewed and knowing again what it is, simply to be alive.

Still from A Portrait of Ga
by Margaret Tait, 1952
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