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Tacita Dean

1965 | Canterbury, United Kingdom
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Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Photo: Jim Rakete

British filmmaker and mixed media artist.

Tacita Dean has lived and worked in Berlin since 2000, and uses the images and sounds she encounters during her travels as material for her photographs, drawings, installations, texts, and, most of all, her films shot in 16 mm – a medium that features predominantly in her installations, which highlight not only the image on the screen but also the reel and projector. T. Dean studied art at the Falmouth School of Art (UK), as well as in Athens and at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She has said that “for me, making a film is connected with the idea of loss and disappearance”. The passing of time and the narrative possibilities it offers are articulated around the notion of obsolescence. There is anachronism to be found in constructions formerly seen as futuristic, such as the Bubble House (1999), the acoustic mirrors installed in Dungeness, Kent (Sound Mirrors, 1999), and the television tower on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, a symbol of East Berlin that she filmed from the tower’s revolving restaurant (Fernsehturm, 2001); her work also features abandoned artwork, such as Robert Smithson’s (Trying to Find Spiral Jetty, 1997; From Columbus, Ohio to the Partially Buried Woodshed, 1999); and buildings awaiting demolition, such as the former government building of East Germany (Palast, “palace”, 2005); cracked picture postcards like fragments of broken dreams, or wartime opera programmes with each cover cut out to rid them of the infamous symbol (Die Regimentstochter, “The Daughter of the Regiment”, 2005). Obsolescence also pertains to what has been around for a long time, like the sinister story of Donald Crowhurst, an inexperienced sailor who falsely claimed to have sailed around the world and whose boat ran aground off the coast of the Caribbean (Teignmouth Electron, 1999) – which the artist uses as a pretext for filming the haunting vision of the regular pulsation of a lighthouse’s beam from dusk to dawn (Disappearance at Sea I [Voyage de Guérison], 1996), followed by Disappearance at Sea II (1997), filmed in Cinemascope from the Longstone lighthouse (Farne Islands) as a tribute to Tristan and Iseult.

The artist also treated this notion of the through line in Noir et Blanc (2006), which focuses on the final days of the Kodak factory, while also expressing her cinematic interest in elderly men, leading her to pause between the decrepit walls of a Joseph Beuys installation in Darmstadt, or among the vestiges of Marcel Broodthaers’ Section Cinéma (2002) (the piece was featured in Broodthaers’ installation Musée d’Art moderne, département des Aigles, a sort of travelling “museum” of impermanent collections presented at various events between 1968 and 1972). She has made films, among others, of the artist Mario Merz in 2002, and of the translator Michael Hamburger in 2007, shortly before they died. Also of note is her final and remarkable filmic redemption of Merce Cunningham and his choreographic modernity (Craneway Event, 2009). Her film J. G. (2013) pays tribute to her friend J. G. Ballard, using the cropping techniques of experimental cinema.

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Élisabeth Lebovici

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, FILM, 2011, 35 mm, colour and black & white portrait format anamorphic film with hand tinted sequences, silent, continuous loop, 11’ Tate Modern, London, © Photo: Marcus Leith & Andrew Dunkley, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, FILM, 2011, 35 mm, colour and black & white portrait format anamorphic film with hand tinted sequences, silent, continuous loop, 11’ Tate Modern, London, © Photo: Marcus Leith & Andrew Dunkley, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, Antigone, 2018, 2 synchronised 35 mm colour anamorphic films, optical sound, with a running time of exactly 60 min, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, Beautiful Sheffield, 2001, photo-etching on paper, 45 x 68.5 cm, © Tate, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, The Sinking of the SS Plympton, 2001, photo-etching on paper, 45 x 68,5 cm, © Tate, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, Crowhurst, 2006, gouache on gelatin silver print, 300 x 409.9 cm, © MoMA, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, Los Overpainted (The Friar’s Doodle) 15, 2010, gouache on gelatin silver print, 41.91 x 59.05 cm, Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, Silos Overpainted (The Friar’s Doodle) 4, 2010, gouache on gelatin silver print, 59.69 x 75.41 x 4.13 cm, Collection Albright-Art Gallery, © Tacita Dean

Tacita  Dean — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Tacita Dean, The Friar’s Doodle, 2010, 16 mm film, color, silent, 13’, Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, © Tacita Dean

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