SANTA – 1979 / 6:00 / 16mm

Santa gets his picture taken with an assortment of children of all ages – amateur sociology dredged from the Pacific Centre Mall. Gallagher’s deadpan treatment isolates the ritual moment of image making. As each mandatory souvenir photograph is shot, Gallagher captures a few feet of movie film. The soundtrack is a persistent laugh track; Santa’s repeated “Ho Ho Ho. Compare this film with his earlier Sideshow: that film’s sadistic/sardonic metaphor of the captive dummy-kid shut up in a box has mellowed here into a lighter hearted cynicism; the kids may mess up the show but Santa goes on having the last laugh.

— Tony Reif