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Published in The Guardian, September 2013
Artist Tacita Dean talks to Adrian Searle about her epic search for Robert Smithson’s ethereal earthwork Spiral Jetty in Utah – and how she discovered that JG Ballard shared her adoration of the land artist. The former Turner prize nominee, who displayed filmic work at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2011, exhibits the new videowork called JG alongside a series of postcards from prewar Kassel in Germany, over-painted by the artist to show 70 years of change.
Related Exhibitions: Tacita Dean
Published in BBC Radio 3 , September 2013
Tacita Dean’s film JG is on display at Frith Street Gallery in London from 13th September - 26th October 2013. The film is inspired by the artist’s correspondence with author J.G. Ballard regarding connections between his short story The Voices of Time and Robert Smithson’s earthwork and film Spiral Jetty.
Related Exhibitions: Tacita Dean
Published in Frieze d/e, 7 May 2013
Before his death in 2012, Chicago gallerist Donald Young commissioned nine artists for an exhibition series of projects responding to the work of Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878–1956). Tacita Dean’s contribution, Berlin and the Artist (2012), is a series of collaged images using found postcards and drawings from around Walser’s time. The book In The Spirit of Walser is based on the exhibition series. Released this spring by New Directions Press, New York, it includes Dean’s essay Sluggardizing and illustrations from her project alongside stories by Walser himself.
PABLO LARIOS: I’ve been reading your essay Sluggardizing .
TACITA DEAN: Robert Walser uses that word in his story, Berlin and the Artist (1910). It refers to the hermetic element of an artistic life. What I love about the story is Walser’s intimation that you can effectively be doing work while seeming passive – when you’re lying in bed or staring at the ceiling. Walser understands something about the artistic process that is so often misunderstood or mischaracterized. Working on the images for this project, Berlin and the Artist, I was lying on my bed gazing up at a turn-of-the-century ceiling. To the outside world it would have looked like I was being lazy but, in fact, I was ‘sluggardizing’.
PL: Walser’s story is also an account of artistic life in Berlin, where he lived from 1905 before returning to Switzerland a century ago in 1913 (in his words, as a ‘ridiculed and unsuccessful author’). The suggestion – in both of your texts – is that there’s something unique about artistic life in this city. How did your project come about?
TD: Donald Young, who died three days before the exhibition opened in his gallery last year, had sent me a copy of Microscripts, a compilation of Walser’s coded texts that were translated into English in 2010. The miniscule notes had fascinated Donald. Some time after reading this book, I went with Lynne Cooke to a flea market in Berlin. Very strangely, we came upon hundreds of pencil drawings by an artist called Martin Stekker. It was a remarkable discovery: Berlin observations from a century ago.
Published in ArtForum, September 2012
In a short video made to accompany FILM, her 2011 piece for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London, Tacita Dean begins by describing the making of ‘The Green Ray’, 2001. The title alludes to the last flash of light from the setting sun - which is ‘just slower than the red or the yellow ray.’ To capture this elusive aura, often witnessed by sailors, she watched the sunset off Madagascar. Positioning her camera, loaded with its spool of celluloid, she began the exposure and waited. As the sun disappeared under the horizon, Dean ‘believed byt was never sure’ she saw a flash of green. Next to her were two observers with a video camera. They neither saw nor captured the phenomenon, and insisted their video proved that Dean had not seen it either. But when Dean’s film was developed, there - unmistakable in the fleeting movement of film frames - was the green ray. It had been too elusive for what she calls ‘the pixelation of the digital world’.
The rest of the article can be read in this month’s issue of ArtForum.
Published in The New Yorker, 2012-04-12 02:10 PM
Here’s what happens in “Edwin Parker” (2011), the English artist Tacita Dean’s twenty-nine-minute film of Cy Twombly: nothing much. He pads around his studio in Lexington, Virginia, in a herringbone tweed jacket and high-waisted linen trousers. He picks up a plaster object and sets it down. He opens an aerogramme and skims an article in the Financial Times. He goes to lunch at a local diner. Occasionally, he says a few words to an assistant, which we can’t quite make out. But mostly he sits, near his studio’s front window, behind drawn blinds in the fading light, impeccable and aloof, like one of his white-plaster sculptures.
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