What next in the Turbine Hall?

Tacita Dean is the third British Artist chosen to take part in the Unilever Series in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall; she is one of the Young British Artists generation. Following in the footsteps of Anish Kapoor in 2002 – with his vast trumpet-like Marsyas – and then Rachel Whiteread in 2005, when she filled the space with 14,000 casts of cardboard boxes.

Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998 but pipped at the post by Chris Ofili. Dean is best known for her film work and recently completed a film portrait of the late choreographer Merce Cunningham – Dean also uses found objects, drawing, sound and photography in her work.

Over the years she has created some fascinating and elegiac works responding to light, space and history, with a keen sense of the cinematic and the sublime. Dean’s best-known films have included Banewl, which charted the effect of a solar eclipse on a farm in Cornwall, and Disappearance at Sea.  During the 1990s, the sea was a persistent theme in Dean’s work. Perhaps most famously, she explored the tragic maritime misadventures of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur English sailor whose ambition to enter a race to solo circumnavigate the globe ended in deception, existential crisis and, eventually, tragedy. Dean has made a number of films and blackboard drawings relating to the Crowhurst story, exploiting the metaphorical richness of such motifs as the ocean, lighthouses and shipwrecks.

Tacita Dean is best known for her work in 16mm film, her films often employ long takes and steady camera angles to create a contemplative atmosphere. Her anamorphic films are shot by cinematographers John Adderley and Jamie Cairney. She has also published several pieces of her own writing, which she refers to as ‘asides,’ which complement her visual work. Since the mid-1990s her films have not included commentary, but are instead accompanied by often understated optical sound tracks.

Her work and ideas are being kept under wraps for the 2011 commission for the Turbine Hall. Could it be that she will make a new film that enables visitors to linger longer as in previous commissions? For example in Doris Salcedo’s crack in the floor, visitors wandered alongside it; didn’t mid queuing to hurtle down Carsten Holler’s spiraling slides; or nervously walk into Miroslaw Balka’s intimidating dark chamber. Or maybe Dean will come up with something more like Olafur Eliasson’s 2003 The Weather Project when visitors came to Tate Modern and simply basked in the giant sun.


  1. Rob 22 February 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Personally, I like her trees…

  2. Rob 23 February 2011 at 1:14 pm

    “These” trees…

  3. Penny Cameron 24 February 2011 at 9:45 am

    I’m interested in her combination of art and writing – my OCA creative arts degree will combine the two which I was a bit doubtful about but this has given me a bit of confidence in my choice. It’s all story telling after all.

  4. rhonda 25 February 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Good to hear the Tacita Dean write up has been helpful to you and your studies. You might also be interested in the artist John Baldessari he works with images and text.

  5. Peter Haveland 25 February 2011 at 7:44 pm

    and don’t forget Roni Horn and Barbara Kruger, not to mention Victor Burgin

  6. rhonda 26 February 2011 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for that Peter those 3 artists are well worth looking at.


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