The twelfth commission in The Unilever Series at Tate Modern in London has been realized by the Berlin-based artist Tacita Dean. Tacita Dean conceived a piece that consists of an eleven-minute silent 35mm film projected onto a monolithic wall erected at the end of a darkened Turbine Hall. The work is entitled Film and deals with the typical nature of the analogue film in contrast to the digital image. Tacita Dean’s film is the first work in The Unilever Series that is devoted to the moving image.
Tacita Dean created Film as a portrait of the analogue, photochemical, non-digital medium of film. Dean wanted “to show film as film can be – film in its purest form”. The images the film shows have been created during the film shoot and not in post-production. Classic in-camera and studio techniques such as masking, double-exposure and glass matte painting have been used.
Film takes the appearance of a filmstrip with sprocket holes exposed onto the emulsion. It’s in Cinemascope format, but rotated through 90°. The film shows images of nature (lightning, flowers, seascapes) and architecture. It combines black and white, color and hand tinted images. She created associations with Mondrian painting and surrealist art; and deliberately used what is normally considered waste in filmmaking, such as the picture fading at the tail end of a roll.
In an interview with Simon Schama, Tacita Dean expressed her concern about the decline of analogue film as digital technologies mostly replaced it. With her work for The Unilever Series she wanted to both stir this debate and create a testament to the unique qualities of the medium film.
Tacita Dean was born in Canterbury, Kent, in 1965. She is considered as one of the “Young British Artists”, and was a nominee for the Turner Prize in 1998. Tacita Dean lives and works in Berlin. She had solo shows at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (1997), MACBA in Barcelona, Schaulager in Basel (2006) and other major art museums. She participated in the Venice Biennale in 2003 and 2005.
The exhibition at Tate Modern is curated by Nicholas Cullinan, Curator of International Modern Art, Tate Modern, assisted by Iria Candela, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern.
The Unilever Series: Tacita Dean: Film. Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, London. Press preview, October 10, 2011.
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