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Frith Street Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of new works by Tacita Dean. One of the most celebrated artists of her generation Dean is known for her compelling 16 mm films, drawings, photographs and presentations of found objects. Here Dean has chosen to show a selection of works related to both British and German subject matter under the title of Wandermüde. Unlike the better known, Wanderlust, which is a desire to travel, Wandermüde implies an exhaustion at the prospect of travel – tired of wandering.
Commissioned to make a work in relation to the writer, W. G. Sebald, Dean took as her subject the poet and translator Michael Hamburger whom Sebald meets in a chapter of his book, The Rings of Saturn. Her 28 minute film, Michael Hamburger (2007) concentrates on Hamburger’s love of apples, and on the orchard he grew himself in his Suffolk garden, mostly from the pips of apples he either found or had been given. The rambling house and its encroaching garden, the sunlight, the rattling wind and then the appearance of a rainbow all act as metaphor to the man as poet.
“Although Hamburger is said to have despaired of reviews of his poetry which declared that he was ‘better known as a translator,’ we might detect a similar deprecation of his self, by himself, in the film which shares his name. Unwilling, perhaps unable, to talk of his past and his migrations, most especially fleeing Nazism in 1933, he talks poignantly, instead, of his apple trees, of where they have come from, and of their careful cross-breeding. Purity is dismissed, and one senses with an awkward pathos that the poet is translating himself.” – Jeremy Millar
Darmstädter Werkblock (2007) is filmed in the rooms, which make up ‘Block Beuys’ in Darmstadt’s Hessisches Landesmuseum. This installation of objects and vitrines was composed and reordered by Joseph Beuys from its establishment in 1970 until his death in 1986. For some time now the museum has wanted to renovate the galleries because the jute walls (a leftover from the pre-Beuys medieval galleries) are badly patched and stained. However, this decision has upset many who believe the walls add a very particular and unique atmosphere to the Beuys installation. The controversy lies in the fact that Beuys never made particular reference to the walls so making them impertinent to any renovation question. Dean’s film entirely concentrates on these soon to be replaced walls, carpet and details of the gallery décor, seeing them as analogous to the entropy in and of Beuys’s art, whilst carefully avoiding any sighting of the work itself.
In 2005, Dean began work on a series of found postcards featuring trees, which she transformed by painting out all the background detail with white gouache. Inspired by the success of these smaller works, Dean sought out famous and ancient trees in southeast England. The resulting large-scale works include, Majesty (2006) and Crowhurst II (2006), the oldest complete oak tree in England and a yew estimated at 4000 years old respectively. By isolating their form, the subject becomes even more imposing in its solemnity.
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