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Published in ARTFORUM, October 2009
Some time after we worked together on ‘“Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS”, Merce asked me to collaborate with him on an Event. Through CalArts, Merce and Trevor Carlston, the executive director of the company, had found this huge space in Richmond-a former Ford factory.
I didn’t want to film the performance but the rehearsal. I couldn’t even stay for the actual Event. I filmed for four days-the first day it was raining and Merce just looked at the space. The next few days, the dancers came. There were pelicans everywhere, and the craneway was surrounded by glass., it was stunning light. Coincidentally, we filmed November 3-6 last year to do it. Obama was elected on the first day in the film, but I resisted putting any reference to that.
Published in Art in America, 23 October 2009
I am in the unique position of still being able to work with Merce Cunningham. I encounter him daily, listening to him and taking my cues from him, as I spend my summer cutting the film we decided to make together last year. His death has meant I have lost the pleasure in imagining him watching it, so in that sense I have lost my muse, but the film cannot change as a result of this: it is about Merce and his dancers, in a particular place and at a particular time. I am just very sad that he will never see it.
Published in The Guardian, 10 August 2009
Tacita Dean’s film Presentation Sisters towers above everything else here. The 18th-century philosopher Denis Diderot argued that truly worthwhile art must reject the triviality of theatre – of conscious performance – and instead depict characters whose absorption in their activities makes us in turn forget ourselves. This was an Enlightenment definition of serious art, and Dean’s film, a portrait of women living in a religious community in Ireland, fulfils it. Presentation Sisters homes in on mundane daily activities and finds infinite beauty in them: doing the laundry, preparing breakfast, making a cup of tea.
Published in The New York Times, 21 August 2008
“Stillness” is about duration and change, which are the same thing and are also the substance of life and history. Ms. Dean’s film of Mr. Cunningham’s performance is about the sound and motion of history in action: the personal history of one man’s fidelity to the memory of another; the cultural history of a living artist transmitting and rejuvenating the creative essence of one who has died; the contemporary history of a younger artist preserving and honoring all this, and the two men (the piece is above all a portrait of Mr. Cunningham) in her art.
Published in Artforum, Picks, Summer 2008
Much of Tacita Dean’s recent work in film has been portraiture, and her scrupulous attention has brought forth a range of engrossing characters…
Published in New York Times, 27 July 2008
[Tacita] Dean’s installation looks amazing down here. Walking down the stairs from the museum galleries and stepping into the darkness, you can see only the flickering lights of the six projectors. They look like radiant stars in the night sky. As you get closer to each projection, the imagery comes into view. The soundtrack also begins to kick in, over and above the whirling hum of the projectors.
Published in Art Forum, December 2007
Published in Art World, October/November 2007
Her meditative, often elegiac films create a welcome pause amid the frequent cacophony and discord of contemporary art, their long edits literally stopping you in your tracks. They achieve, with great subtlety, the subversion that others so brazenly crave.
Published in Tacita Dean, September 2007
Published in The Observer, September 2007
‘Dean was forbidden to film the vitrines and objects on display and so she concentrated on the hessian wall coverings that have been there since Beuys installed his works but are now to be removed, despite marks on them made by the artist. This makes for an extraordinary 18-minute film concentrating on some patched, sun-bleached beige hessian with a past. Just as when she tracked down Donald Crowhurst’s wrecked boat for her 2000 work Teignmouth Electron, she has once again done us a valuable archival service.’
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