Readings of American realist fiction

To mark American independence day, Witte de With presents an evening of readings from American realist fiction and drama, including Raymond Carver, John Steinbeck and Arthur Miller, to accompany Margaret Salmon’s exhibition.

Adopting an almost anthropological approach in her filmic portraits, Margaret Salmon observes and records her characters in their usual habitats. She views them as representatives of universal types featured throughout the history of art, literature and cinema: “I think these archetypes transmit everyday truths and experiences to which we can all relate. This is the essence of my work. I am attempting to explore, deconstruct and celebrate these common human themes.”

Stylistically, Salmon’s influences include several key pieces of American realist fiction and drama. For example, “The conversation in P.S. obsesses over work and money and sacrifice, so I filmed the main character working the land, almost like some Great Depression character from a Steinbeck novel.” In addition to its imagery, she also draws upon the sparse yet compact dialogue of realist fiction, notably from the short stories of Raymond Carver or the works of Arthur Miller.

The aesthetic of her work is clearly American, from the architecture she portrays ‘ the clapboard houses in Peggy and Ramapo Central ‘ to the settings she chooses: the summer barbeque or the woman laying in the sun on her front porch. Her films portray a contemporary America, but one steeped in its own history and contained within small, semi-rural or suburban communities, far from the more brash version of America that we see in today’s media and mainstream cinema.


Alexis Blake
Roberta Enschede
Esther Kurtz

Format of the evening:

Raymond Carver’s Everything Stuck to Him, from What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981)
Extract from John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row (1945)
Scene from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949)
Tillie Olsen’s As I Stood Ironing from Tell Me A Riddle (1961)
Extract from John Fante’s Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938)
James Leo Herlihy’s Pretty on the Bus at Night-time, from The Sleep of Baby Filbertson (1959)


Margaret Salmon’s exhibition will be open from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to enable you to visit the show immediately prior to the reading. The exhibition is normally open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, until 19 August 2007.


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