Max Mara Art Prize 1st Edition: 2005 - 2007

Margaret Salmon, Ninna Nanna


The inaugural edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women was announced in June 2005 at the British Pavilion of the 51st Venice Art Biennale. The first shortlist was then announced in September 2005 as Anne Hardy, Donna Huddleston, Rachel Kneebone, Margaret Salmon and Anj Smith.

The prize was unanimously awarded to video artist Margaret Salmon by a panel of judges, chaired by Iwona Blazwick, former director of the Whitechapel Gallery and comprising Jennifer Higgie, editor of Frieze magazine; Victoria Miro, gallerist; Gillian Wearing, artist and laureate of the Turner Prize; and Anita Zabludowicz, collector and gallerist.

Margaret Salmon’s six-month Italian residency was divided between the American Academy in Rome and the Pistoletto Foundation in Biella, where the artist completed her project. In January 2007, the work was exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.


Born in Suffern, New York, in 1977. Lives and works in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She began her career as a video artist at the age of twenty, while pursuing a BFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her style of expression is cognizant of various moments in the history of cinema, from Neorealism, to New Wave and Cinema Verité. In 2007 she took part in the Venice Art Biennale and in the Berlin Biennale in 2010. She was also featured in individual exhibitions at Witte de With in Rotterdam and won the Vincent Prize in 2007.


Ninna Nanna is a video triptych, shot in 16mm in colour and black and white, and presents three young Italian mothers filmed in their homes while singing an endless lullaby, a ‘ninna nanna’, to their infants. The work celebrates the tenacity and grace of these women as they go about their daily lives, and draws attention to the gap between the iconography of motherhood and its reality.

Ninna Nanna is now part of the Collezione Maramotti and was selected by Robert Storr for the 52nd Venice Art Biennale. Margaret Salmon was also nominated for the coveted Vincent Prize.

Image Credit: Margaret Salmon, Ninna Nanna, Whitechapel Gallery, 2007. Installation view, courtesy Whitechapel Gallery. Photo: Patrick Lears