The Cinéma du Réel film festival in Paris will soon present a 13-film retrospective of the work of Tacita Dean, with theatrical screenings in 16mm and 35mm. The retrospective is a special opportunity to discover the work of the British artist, usually only exhibited on loopers in galleries and museums. Dean is world-renowned for her analog film works and, since 2011, for her role in the fight to keep photochemical film alive and kicking. She was instrumental in setting up the website savefilm.org and has continued to campaign for an irreplaceable medium that, in her view, “has something to do with poetry”.
The program, curated by Rachel Rakes, will allow to us enter into Dean’s sense of time and space. An early piece, Disappearance at Sea (1996), takes us to a light house at dusk in anamorphic 16mm color, while The Green Ray (2001) captures the famous moment off the coast of Madagascar. The theme of disappearance, this time unwillingly, is also the center point of a piece simply titled Kodak, shot in 2006 in the soon-to-close factory of the well-known manufacturer in Chalons-sur-Saône, France.
In later works, Dean experiments with exposure-masking techniques in 35mm that allow different images to be combined into complex layers, mixing landscapes, close-up details, and multiple periods of time in the same frame. Shot in Utah and California, JG (2013) is a prime example of this technique, associating Robert Smithson’s iconic land-art masterpiece Spiral Jetty with the memory of British science-fiction author JG Ballard. Although profoundly visual, Dean’s films often make reference to literature and fine art, in the form of portraits of actors, dancers, poets and painters. Her films all explore the profound nature of the medium, its capacity to capture unique moments of time, and the potency and singularity of mechanical projection.
The program is complemented by a public conversation with the artist on March 24th moderated by art historian and critic Patricia Falguières. This coming spring, Dean will also be celebrated in London with a triple exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts. She is represented by Marian Goodman gallery.
Image : Tacita Dean, Craneway Event, 16mm colour anamorphic film, optical sound, 108 minutes, 2009 (Film still)
Courtesy of the artist; Frith Street Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris